Continuous investment is the defining factor to Kentec’s ambitious growth plans as it looks to continue providing the global market with quality and robust life-safety systems
Celebrating its 30th year in business this year, Kentec Electronics has established itself as a leading player supplying open protocol fire panels to the global market. With demand for life safety control systems ever on the rise, Kentec is seeing growth in all of its markets around the world. By implementing a constant programme of investment, the company ensures it is able to exploit this demand and as such has experienced record growth over the past year. This year, the company expects to turn over close to £14.5 million, with a sales split of 45/55 to domestic and export markets, respectively.
“The company is best known in the global market for quality, simple to use products delivered with a fast turnaround,” begins General Manager, Jonathan Gilbert, highlighting the foundations of the company’s exemplary reputation. It is a reputation that sees its system installed as the predominant platform on the London Underground, in royal residences and in every application from marine to student accommodation sites.
At the heart of this reputation is research and development, which, like everything else in the company, is managed and operated in-house. “The founders of the company came from the fire industry originally, and this ethos has continued so that much of our management also comes from this sector,” explains Jonathan. “This means we have a good background in and understanding of the market and its requirements. We keep close contact with all our customers and listen to their feedback in order to develop and deliver the best products.” As such, in 2016, the company will be launching the Taktis panel, an innovative panel that has taken all the recent comments into account regarding existing products and future needs.
With the gradual emergence of internet connectivity and intelligent buildings, the Taktis focuses particularly on integration and can be re-configured to realise many other control and indication applications, whilst retaining the quality and ease of use that so defines the company’s offering. “This is typical of our approach to development. We don’t ever want to put to market something that isn’t needed – we need to develop things that we know are needed and will be of benefit to the market,” Jonathan adds.
Quality is paramount within the fire industry, and with a current output of 40,000 panels a year set to grow, it is key to the company’s performance to deliver this consistently. “We of course have a lot going on in terms of quality and safety checks at every stage of the process,” continues Jonathan. “We also do a lot of our own pre-release valuation and validation tests to ensure everything works and is implemented properly. This is in addition to meeting the wider market standards in the fire industry, which we always strive to exceed.” In order to have complete control of the manufacturing process, Kentec is responsible for every stage from sheet metal work through to the end product and continually invests to make sure it is able to do this as efficiently as possible.
“We have ambitious growth plans and over the last few months the factory has been shipping 40 per cent more than it was this time last year,” explains Jonathan. “This year alone we have invested in an additional surface mounted machine, a selective soldering system, which automates part of the tricky soldering processes freeing up personnel to be redeployed elsewhere and a second flatbed printer. We are also upgrading the original printer so we have two of these latest models. In addition to this we have done lots of in-house studies looking at how to achieve greater efficiencies in factory layout and other aspects of the lines.
“We have also invested in a new computerised system called KIPPS (Kentec Intuitive Production Planning System), which has been tailored specifically to our needs and is continually being developed accordingly. Implemented early this year we are already seeing huge differences in flow rate, factory planning, and quality, including a new bar-coding system to track the parts and assembly at each stage.”
Jonathan highlights that one of his goals for Kentec is to increase exports to 75 per cent of the company’s total sales, in line with further growth in the UK as well, and investment into capacity increases are vital to achieving this. “It is a challenge to increase the volume of manufacturing without affecting quality and delivery, so investing in more people and machinery, and getting more out of the facility is really important,” he says. “It is about being able to fulfil our growth plans, not just by getting more people to buy, but by actually being able to manufacture for and supply the demand that is continually increasing.”
And this very much defines Kentec’s vision. The next year will be focused on introducing Taktis to the market as well as driving further investments into the facilities in its never-ending quest for continues improvement. “In its simplest form, our long-term vision is to ensure that we continue manufacturing more products to grow our business and that we are recognised as a key global supplier of fire panels,” Jonathan concludes.
Kentec Electronics Ltd
Services: Specialist manufacturers of life safety fire control systems