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Allen Brothers

Investing for the future: New machinery at Allen Brothers

by Mark Jardine 22 Jan 15:00 GMT
Allen Brothers new Haas VF-2 Vertical Machining Centre © Mark Jardine

Exactly a year ago, Allen Brothers purchased a Haas VF-2 Vertical Machining Centre or VMC for short part of a major investment for the company of over £100,000. This has doubled their capacity for producing some of their top-end fittings which require extremely high accuracy, such as the XHL blocks.

Fittings such as the forestay fitting for a 49er require exacting standards due it being an Olympic class, and is exactly this kind of production which has earned Allen such a good reputation for quality components.

With demand for these fittings increasing, so too is the lead time for production, so the investment they've made will satisfy the increased demand from their customers.

"Investing in this machine has made differences in both quantity and quality. In terms of quantity it has doubled our capacity, and so has giving us the capacity to increase our range in products, such as our flagship XHL blocks, expanding from the original 30mm block to now include 20mm and 40mm sheave sizes. In terms of the quality, serving both businesses, such as Ovington Boats, it's enabled us to turn around their requirements, for both prototypes and production runs much faster and with high precision. It has been a real game-changer for us.", explained Liz Adams, Managing Director at Allen Brothers.

Allen has expanded rapidly in the last few years, and it seems every time they increase capacity the demand grows with it, a trend which looks set to continue:

"Ask me this time next year! Certainly 2018 delivered growth and in terms of our resources we haven't just increased capacity by adding new machinery, but we've also invested in IT systems which will allow us to schedule jobs and keep better control of our raw materials purchasing and marketing. We're trying to run a leaner and more efficient operation as well as increasing our overall capacity.", added Liz.

When the A2030XHL block was originally launched it was regarded as a niche product for applications such as the International Moth kicker systems, but the uptake has surpassed expectation with usage through several classes, including a number of keelboats, as Liz describes:

"When you launch a market-leading product, you create a niche. We were relatively confident that by creating our strongest, best and highest performance block that we'd find new markets. We initially thought we'd be selling them in tens, and now it turns out we're selling them in hundreds, and as time goes on, I don't think it's unrealistic to say we'll reach the stage where we're selling them in thousands."

This flagship product is also putting Allen on the radar with marine companies who may previously have looked at other manufacturers to supply their needs. The company has historically enjoyed very strong relationships with the leading businesses in the UK, but it has given them the capacity to go abroad and deal with manufacturers and boat builders throughout the world:

"Boat builders can now be confident that we can now not only supply the quality and precision engineering specifications they demand, but also can provide the number of components they require and give them the customer service to go with it. With new boats, we get involved at the earliest stage possible with the boat builder, advising on how our products can be incorporated into a design."

With Allen's growing reputation both domestically in the UK and overseas we hope to see this expansion continue!

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