Feeling the heat
Croydon-based Chromalox (UK) Ltd is currently in the midst of a significant period of expansion and investment as it targets significant growth over the next several years
For Chromalox, what started with the efforts of a self-taught engineer, who more than 100 years ago invented the first metal-sheathed resistance heating element, has since given rise to a leading, global thermal technology company developing advanced solutions for the world’s toughest industrial heating applications. Today, the company serves an increasing number of global markets and industries, excelling in those with particularly high expectations by delivering products that exceed specifications, limit risk and reduce operating costs.
Today, Chromalox itself is owned by Spirax-Sarco Engineering, which specialises in the control and efficient use of steam, and in peristatic pumping and associated fluid path technologies. Chromalox’s products typically fall into the categories of heat trace, industrial heaters and systems, and component technologies, while it has also become known for its technologically advanced cold weather temperature management, process heating and component heating solutions.
Chromalox’s history of activity in the UK dates back to the early 1970s, when it acquired a manufacturing facility in Grimwood in 1971. Expansion in this market continued at a pace, typified by its acquisition of the company Eltron in 1987. “These days, the activities of Chromalox in the UK revolve around its work as a design, engineering and project management house, specialising in thermal industrial heating solutions,” explains Country Head, Paul Skidmore. “Within our facilities, we are able to provide various marketing, sales, design and project management functions, as well as carrying out some light-assembly and shipping from stock.”
At present, the vast majority of the company’s work is carried out on behalf of the oil and gas sector, with its customer base being predominantly made up of major EPC contractors and global oil and gas producers, but also including contractors and OEMs. However, as Paul goes on to reveal, Chromalox does have a desire to further diversify into other sectors. “As a global organisation, we already have a presence in almost every market in which there is a demand for electric heat, be it the power, water, construction, rail, or food and beverage industries,” he says. “What we want to do now is build upon our parent company’s experience – as well as our own – to forge new partnerships and win contracts across these fields.”
Forming a part of the company’s future growth efforts has been the opening of its new Quick Response Centre warehouse in Croydon. “The primary reason behind this particular investment was that previously we struggled to service customers with certain short lead time products, which would have needed to have been imported from our factories in either France, the United States or Mexico,” Paul details. “Most of our work is made to order, we realised that there was a gap in the market that we needed to fill. What these efforts now mean for us is that, whereas before if a customer required a screwed immersion heater, for instance, they would probably face a lead time of between six and 12 weeks, we can now supply finished products within two weeks, and sometimes even on a next day basis.
“In addition to the aforementioned investment, we have also increased our stockholding capacity, added additional lines such as heat trace cables and other accessories to service niche markets, brought several new sales people into the business and installed the latest software to assist with things like electrical drawings. We are also excited to have recently developed a brand-new range of control panels, which we look forward to launching later in 2019.”
Chromalox predicts that 2019 will indeed be a significant year of growth from a UK perspective. “We have budgeted for, and are targeting, a growth rate of around 18 per cent for this year, which will be quite an achievement if met,” Paul states. “We set ourselves tough targets, but all of the investment we have made in recent months in the form of infrastructure and human resources is expected to help us reach our goals, and we look forward to see the fruits of our labour appear during 2019.
“It goes without saying that we would like to continue to grow going forward, and in an ideal world this will also see us increase our efforts when it comes to research and new product development. We envision that this, in turn, will allow us to put more financial resources into in our people, provide them with specific training and thus widen our considerable knowledge base. The more we grow, the more we can invest, and that will give Chromalox further scope to expand its UK operations in the years to come.”
Chromalox (UK) Ltd
Products: Thermal technology products and solutions