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PCB | September 18, 2009

PBSI invests £400,000 in new PCB production plant in Manchester

PBSI Ltd, the Manchester-based manufacturer of control systems, has invested £400,000 in a new production plant as it seeks to break into the US market and expand in the Middle East.
The Gorton-based business says the new printed circuit board (PCB) production plant represents a major investment for the firm and will quadruple current relay production capacity.

On the back of the investment the firm is in talks with potential partners to sell its equipment in the US and has recently applied to establish a sales office serving the Middle East in the Knowledge Oasis Muscat, a technology park located outside the capital city of Oman.

PBSI, owned by family shareholders and management, was created following the merger of switchgear maker P&B Engineering and engineering firm WM Shakeshaft in 1987. Earlier this year it was ranked 34th in the Crain’s Manchester Business Fast 50 after growing turnover from £6m in 2006 to £9.2m in 2008, a 47.4 per cent increase.

The company, headed by managing director Keith Hamilton, makes intelligent protection and control systems for offshore oil platforms, oil refineries, gas plants, petrochemical plants and gas-fired power stations. The small company competes with major multinationals such as ABB, AREVA and General Electric while customers include Wartsila in Norway, Schneider in France and Siemens in Germany. One of its largest customers is Indian engineering and construction conglomerate Larsen & Toubro Ltd who currently buys several thousand relays a year.

Hamilton said: “We compete against most of the major multinationals and relish the battle as we believe our willingness to react quickly to market movements or new system requirements gives us an edge.” He said the new PCB plant, which will be fully operational at the end of October, will offer the company the chance to grow and win new markets. He added: “We have expanded quite quickly over the last few years and to cope with this we have over this year invested heavily, for a company of our size.

“The payback should we get the orders is that the new plant will allow us to triple or perhaps even quadruple our current relay production capacity. We are attempting to enter the US market and are currently in discussion with one or two potential partners. “Some will see us as a manufacturing dinosaur that should have gone to China, India or Eastern Europe years ago like everyone else. We have always believed that UK product design is amongst the best in the world and if you design it here why not make it here too and then sell to those expanding markets? I believe things can be made as cheaply as the Far East provided automation production techniques are used.”

The company has recently won new contracts in Oman, Abu Dhabi and in Dubai, where it has supplied relays to the new airport. Adam Buckley, head of programmes for The Manufacturing Institute said: “PBSI is a shining example of the sort of resilience and far sightedness we see every day in regional manufacturing. They demonstrate that it is possible to compete against lower cost economies and win through knowledge, efficiency, innovation and determination. It is excellent news that PBSI is investing for the future and seizing global opportunities ‚ÄĒ ready to take advantage of an upturn in the economy. We applaud their success.”
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