Moving up a gear
Specializing in the delivery of sophisticated mechanical and electrical installations for the automotive industry, adi Automotive Services is benefiting from more staff, a repurposed facility and an invaluable ability to adapt
A member of the adi Group, adi Automotive Services profits from a different way of doing things. By focusing on a sector, rather than a specific discipline, the company is able to pool the abilities of its parent firm, helping it provide complete mechanical and electrical installation packages for the automotive sector.
Whether working on a single component or a complex, large-scale project, the company prides itself on a customer-centric approach and a detailed knowledge of the automotive industry’s manufacturing processes. The result is that, for nearly ten years, adi Automotive has been delivering highly tailored and bespoke solutions to meet the individual requirements of a huge range of automotive firms.
“We are a unique part of the adi group,” declares Ritchie Webb, adi Automotive’s Managing Director. “We have been successful because of the way we work, which involves coordinating a variety of services and using them to serve the automotive sector.
“There are various strings to our bow,” he adds. “This includes an electrical contracting division; installing anything from a small power supply to a new substation, with particular skills around specialist inspection lighting, ATEX work areas and complex installations supporting dynamometers and test facilities, steel fabrication division along with a site installation team, who specialize in the design and fabrication of bespoke platforms, handling steelwork, personnel protection or the like. We also have a data network division, who specialize in the installation and testing of fiber and copper infrastructures, and we recently added a vehicle charging business, who install vehicle charging systems into various customers’ premises, and are in turn, helping to develop EV infrastructure in the UK. As a business, we are used to and particularly adept at, navigating our way around millions of pounds’ worth of product, painted bodies or prepped vehicles whilst maneuvering and installing tons of steel or pulling cables.”
The recent growth in adi Automotive has been derived through the company’s fifth division – a lean manufacturing and design unit producing bespoke assembly machinery, Poke Yoke assembly benches with integrated automation systems, mechanical jigs and fixtures, and collaborative robots. Although in 2017 it accounted for less than ten per cent of the company turnover, it now represents the largest division in the company. Overall turnover in the Automotive business was expected to grow in 2020 as more vehicle manufacturers began to release new electric vehicles or convert older models. However, the Covid-19 outbreak led to a reduction in automotive investment and vehicle sales. This could have been viewed as a huge setback for adi Automotive, but instead thanks to the diversification of customer base in the Lean division the company has recorded its biggest year to date.
“Our Lean manufacturing business started out as a way to enable Tier 1 manufacturers to assemble products that would be scheduled into OEM’s production lines,” Ritchie explains. “For example, we would design and build a machine to assemble an Instrument Panel (that would be built by an external Tier 1 supplier) ensuring the right components and parts specified by the customer are included in the build and the completed product is then scheduled in to the correct place in the OEM’s build plan.
“The Lean side of the business had been steadily growing since we began in 2011, but in 2017 we took a big step forward when started working with an automated warehouse and home delivery provider, meaning that despite the virus causing the automotive sector’s demand to drop, we have continued to grow our business.”
Thanks to securing some exciting and long-term orders with the new customer base, adi Automotive was able to increase investment into its operations in late 2020. As part of the funding, the company repurposed a third of its 30,000 square foot Erdington facility, allowing its lean workshop to expand to fit the new demand whilst creating a better, more user-friendly facility for the steel fabrication team in their newly fitted out unit.
“At Erdington, we had our electrical warehouse and mechanical division sitting in a couple of the units, we have now moved these out and re-housed them in a unit close by, meaning we could have the full production facility for lean manufacturing all under one roof,” Ritchie reveals. “In addition, we are currently in the process of negotiating a lease on another new facility, this will give us another 30,000 square feet, taking our total to around 75,000 square feet of manufacturing space. It’s all about increasing efficiency, the lean products and services we provide are all about making production as efficient as possible for our clients, the sensible approach was to apply the same principle to our own facility, hence the need for the move. We have already more than doubled the size of the Lean team in the last two years and with the addition of the new unit and order book, we need to recruit more.”
With the company’s customers requiring more and more innovative solutions, adi is working with emerging technologies – collaborative robots, for example, are playing an increasingly instrumental role in driving efficiencies through automation – adi Automotive’s project volume in this area continues to rise unchecked.
“Previously, for customers in the automotive sector, we might build one or two individual machines, which would feed into or be part of a product line, if we were particularly successful this may mean a full production line of up to 20 or 30 machines or stations,” Ritchie says. “However, with the home delivery service, we are producing a number of the same machines, changing us from a machine builder to a manufacturer of a product, it makes the pricing more challenging but it secures the workshop facilities and ensures that we have a continuity of work for the team. With the current products we supply, we will design and build a machine to our customer’s specification, performance criteria and cost model based against a particular volume. Our plan is always to exceed those expectations, by generating savings and ensuring that we are able to provide the volume build beneath the budget, whilst continuing to look for savings in the supply chain. This ensures the relationship can continue to grow by us securing future manufacturing requirements.”
Expecting growth of the business to continue, the company will be making further investments into its manufacturing space, CNC capability, and workforce. According to Ritchie, the latter of these elements remains most important for adi Automotive. People – both clients and customers – are the firm’s beating heart.
“We have a really good team with a really strong work ethic, so we always make sure to employ the right people with the right attitude and right approach to business,” Ritchie asserts. “Our key focus is on delivering the best customer service we can. That involves making the customer feel like they can trust you and providing them with the confidence that you will deliver what has been requested.”
adi Automotive’s impressive track record with clients lies not only in the company’s technical competence but in its ability to manage its supply chain. From planning to purchasing to delivery, Ritchie believes a project’s positive outcome relies on transparency and communication at all levels.
“We are proud to work with some extremely reliable suppliers, such as Midwest Automation, Carbon 60 Global, Anixter, CED and Hire Tools & Sales to name but a few,” he states. “Along with our purchasing department, these suppliers help us to make customers look good, and that is what we aim for.”
Over the next few years, adi Automotive hopes to combine more of its services under one roof as it continues to take advantage of interest from new markets. If one thing is for sure, it’s that Ritchie and his team’s plans for the firm won’t be short of ambition.
“We’re really keen to continue our progress and expand the business in line with our current growth,” Ritchie proclaims. “As my CEO says, ‘If you’re standing still, you are going backwards,’ so ultimately, in order for us to continue to move forwards, we have to keep growing.”
adi Automotive Services
Services: Mechanical and electrical installations