One company, two support programmes

Grant funding to support productivity and new product development

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The Company

KJN Automation Ltd was established in 1997 specialising in precision engineering. Since then the company has become one of the UK’s leading suppliers of extruded aluminium profile, accessories and associated products.

What they do

KJN’s products are suitable for many applications which include workbenches, production cells, racking, test cells, enclosures, guarding systems, conveyors, trolleys and much more.

They offer design services covering:

  • full product design or modification
  • manufacture of one-off prototypes or batch components
  • assembly and installation
  • supply of flat packed components.

Their engineering workshop has extensive machining capabilities including: turning; milling; grinding; spark eroding; sawing; fabrication; and welding.

The Challenge

KJN identified that lack of innovation and growth was resulting in competitors closing down. They knew that to avoid this fate they needed to evolve, expand and develop new products. There were two strands to these plans:

  • Productivity and efficiency improvements: they needed to reduce the lead times from order to dispatch
  • Innovation: they wanted to develop a range of new products (foam inserts to complement their existing product range) and develop a new process for accurately and remotely capturing insert dimensions.

KJN Foam Inserts

KJN manufacture and sell aluminium modular systems/work benches to aerospace, motorsport, and pharmaceutical industries. Their research identified that once delivered, these companies then sourced foam inserts from other suppliers to fit KJN’s benches/trays. KJN wanted to be able to provide a whole solution to the end user and believed it would add value to their current products and create a further revenue stream for the business.

Although foam inserts are not a new product to the market, it would be a new product and service for KJN. To develop this product range they needed to research: foam quality, procurement, the market and pricing.

They also needed to solve the problem of collecting accurate measurements for the complex profiles of the items to be stored in the foam. Their research had confirmed that there is no technology that can capture the information and transfer it in detail without the need to visit the customer site, sketch and measure the item. Pondering this problem they had come up with a possible solution and wanted to develop and trial this process. They were hoping that the process would provide a significant saving both in time and cost.

The Solution

KJN Automation Ltd applied to ERDF Productivity and Capability Enhancement (PACE) for grant funding to support their efficiency improvements. The funding was used towards the purchase of a new CNC router. This router allows KJN to machine their own worktops and similar products on demand. This will reduce the amount they have to outsource, reduce costs and improve turnaround.

They also applied to ERDF Smart Innovation and Networking for Growth (SING) for grant funding to support their new product development which went towards the purchase of a CNC knife cutting machine and associated IT equipment required for their new product development project. This represents the first step in being able to manufacture prototype foam inserts and develop the data capture process.

The Outcome

KJN anticipate that the productivity improvements will help support up to 3 additional jobs over the next 1-2 years.

In August 2018 KJN launched their new Protective Foam range – providing packaging for safe storage of sensitive parts or equipment. Since the launch, KJN has engaged with, and is now taking orders from one of the largest electrical component suppliers in the world and this will only grow over the coming years.

In the longer term KJN hope that their foam insert customers will benefit from a massive environmental saving and this has been demonstrated with the electrical component company, reducing the effort and waste associated with decanting, transferring and repackaging items as they move in, around and out of the factory.

the sing and pace funding has allowed us to purchase a new foam cutting machine which has in-turn had a significant impact on what we can now offer our new & existing customers. Not only that, as we can also use the machine on our core work, it has allowed us to speed up work flow and shorten our lead times. The impact of which has generated more business and the need for further staff to operate and manage the work output

Richard Andrews, KJN Automation Ltd
About the client

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KJN Automation Ltd
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