© Jaltek Systems_manufacture Electronics Production | December 02, 2020
UK CEM weathers the storm – new investment throughout 2020
When UK-based CEM, Jaltek Systems, was leaving 2019 for the current year, it ended with an investment in a shiny new 3D AOI from CyberOptics and a promise that investment would continue in 2020.
This was of course before COVID-19 was a full blown pandemic. Once the pandemic became a fact the company’s investment plans for 2020 – which included additional Test, AOI and x-ray capability and a new Material Requirements Planning (MRP) system – would potentially need to be reviewed. Back in April, when COVID-19 related deaths were spiking in the UK, the company was still operating to support key industries including Medical, Defence and Homeland Security. Not only that, Jaltek Systems, being an ISO 13485 certified manufacturer, was working on the production of vital medical equipment to help in the fight against COVID-19. Once qualified, production would ramp up to thousands of systems. Jaltek’s engineers supported the customers engineering team prior to and during the builds, reviewing options for volume production. So while the pandemic initially posed a severe business threat – and in many ways it still does – Jaltek’s continued business operations meant that its investment plans for the year was still on and in May an investment in a new Automatic Cleaning system was already up and running. Following a selection process, the choice ultimately landed on the Trident ZDO fully automated cleaning system by Aqueous Technologies. Adding to this, Jaltek also invested in a Gen3 Systems Zero Ion G3-24 Contamination testing machine, which allowed the company to monitor board cleanliness. As the summer was coming to a close it was time once again to add to its machine park, this time focus was on quality & reliability with the installation of a Xi’an LIB Environmental Simulation Industries THR10-225A test chamber, which has allowed the company to perform temperature and humidity testing in-house. The machine, which has a capacity of 225 litres, tests; cold resistance, thermal cycle, ultra low temperatures, high temperatures, storage condition, and calibration function, to suit the many different types of harsh environments that critical products could be found. The investments Jaltek has made throughout 2020 has – as Thomas Aird, Commercial Manager puts it – “enhanced our existing offering through continual investment in capital equipment making us even more of a complete full turnkey service provider.” Evertiq reached out to the CEM to get a clearer picture of how 2020 – with all its bumps in the road – has really been for business. From an outside perspective it looks like Jaltek has managed to get by rather unscathed in regards to the effects of the pandemic, how is that? “We went in to the year with a good order book and despite the pandemic, with the support of our customer’s and suppliers, we have been able to fulfil it. We had a primary growth strategy backed by a long term plan of capital investment and as a result have been able to proceed as projected,” says Steve Blythe, Business Manager at Jaltek Systems. Blythe continues to explain that as part of this strategy the company has transferred some of the knowledge it has gained in serving the needs of its larger customers to support smaller enterprises. “The team has enjoyed working with these new disruptive technologies and partnering with high-potential start-ups.” The Business Manager brings up the UK Ventilator Challenge as an example where the company had the opportunity to apply its skills. “The whole team were enthusiastic to lend their support. The projects involved NPI, quick turnarounds, long hours and the team really valued and felt privileged for the opportunity to contribute and work together for a common cause.” The fact that the company was able to stick to its investments plans made back in 2019 throughout the pandemic is the result of the business having evolved and grown significantly in recent years. “This success is largely down to our customers and suppliers and of course our brilliant team. However, the fact that we were able to stick to our investment plans made in 2019, despite the uncertainty and challenges of 2020, can also be attributed to the longevity of our investment strategy, it dates back a number of years and is a long term strategy,” Steve Pittom, Managing Director explains to Evertiq As mentioned earlier, another key element was the fact that Jaltek entered 2020 with a good order book that it were able to fulfil. The company’s customers operate in a variety of industries and market sectors, which also played a role. “In line with the long term investment strategy we were able to take the opportunity to add to our business development team in 2019 and 2020, which has allowed us to further support new business introduction now and going forward as well as to delivering our current commitments,” the Managing Director specifies. Another major factor, as the Managing Director explains, was the fact that the team was quick to adjust and adapt to the working conditions. “Social distancing in place for those in the factory and using technology for those working from home. This has allowed us to stay on track providing our colleagues and customers with on-going support whilst working closely together to meet targets.” With these recent investments in new capabilities and capacity, Steve Blythe says that the company is working on some exciting projects with both new and existing customers. “Our ongoing investment will allow us to continue to support these projects even better than before. We have expanded our capacity and capability which will in turn benefit our customers. This has also allowed us to further develop our export from a design and manufacturing perspective, which is an exciting area full of opportunity,” Blythe says. The company has naturally developed more of an emphasis on the medical industry, partly due to the current environment, something that the Business Manager foresees will continue as the company is in discussions with some innovative medical prospects that Jaltek hope to partner with in the near future. As we are leaving a year that has been everything but a normal business year, and entering 2021 with uncertainties and volatilities still lingering, Jaltek is confident in its skills and position. “We are working closely with customers to support them as their requirements change. We are also discussing new opportunities which should help us to continue planned investment in to next year as well. We are in the process of installing a new MRP system which will be up and running in the new year,” says Pittom. “With many industry events being cancelled and the requirement for remote working we changed our strategy. We have been able, and will continue to support our customers, trusted partners and suppliers, just in a very different way,” the Managing Director concludes.