Broadbent’s liquid assets
When Thomas Broadbent formed his company of general engineers in 1864, little did he know that 144 years on Thomas Broadbent & Sons Ltd would grow to be a specialist in the design and manufacture of centrifuges including support of solid to liquid separation systems and laundry equipment.
Employing approximately 250 people and with a turnover of over £30 million, the company works closely with process industries to develop its expertise, including chemical, petrochemical, pharmaceutical, mineral, oil and gas, sugar, sweeteners, laundry, and textiles as well as related environmental management and protection sectors. Over 4500 of its centrifuges are installed in over 100 countries and its extensive in-house manufacturing facilities provide equipment to international standards.
“We’re an engineering company that manufactures centrifuges for the spectrum of process industries and the majority of our production is bespoke,” says sales director John Wright. “Our headquarters are in Huddersfield in the UK, where our manufacturing plant is and we have a wholly owned subsidiary in China and the US, Broadbent Inc., as well as several joint ventures around the world in countries such as China, Spain and Japan. We cover the rest of the world with representative agents.”
In order to support particular market segments, the company is structured into five main divisions: sugar and sweeteners, industrial processes, its laundry business, the customer service and support division as well as Broadbent’s manufacturing division.
In its sugar division, Broadbent’s range of batch and continuous centrifugals is one of the most modern and extensive in the world. In addition to processing sugar (Sucrose), its products can be adapted to process other crystalline products such as Dextrose, Fructose and Nitrates. Backed up by a team of highly skilled, knowledgeable individuals, the company provides a full service of design and specification, supplying a single unit or complete centrifugal stations, as well as offering upgrades and conversions for both Broadbent and other makes. Offering over 50 years’ collective experience of centrifugals and associated equipment in the sugar industry, Broadbent’s work is underpinned by its meticulous attention to detail and the careful consideration of safety in the operation of its products. Its range meets the very highest standards and conforms to both British and European standards.
Delivering bespoke centrifuge solutions suitable for a growing range of industrial applications, Broadbent’s industrial processes division brings together unique and outstanding individual expertise to create proactive partnerships with clients all over the world. Its commitment to increasingly deliver effective, cost-efficient centrifuge systems is underpinned by the group’s fully integrated resources of design, manufacturing and its global network of post-installation services. Its laundry systems division maintains an extensive portfolio of equipment providing appropriate solutions for all aspects of laundry processing – from continuous washing to final packaging. Offering total integrated systems, this division’s range of products are designed and manufactured in accordance with international standards such as EN 10472, ISO 9001 and CE regulations to meet HSE and HACCP standards for linen hire, hospital, sterile services, garment and clean room projects. One of its newly developed wastewater treatment systems has proven to be very successful amongst its clients. As an autonomous division of the group, it combines design, mechanical, electrical and electronic technology with precise scheduling skills to give the optimum result – on time, every time.
Broadbent’s customer services division provides the essential logistical base for the reliable delivery of multi-market services worldwide, serving the chemical, pharmaceutical, mineral, sugar (cane and beet), sweetener, laundry and textile industries from its comprehensively equipped on-site manufacturing facilities and associates around the world. The need to recondition and upgrade existing machines and equipment depends on various factors, apart from just age and condition. The speed of change today means that advances in technology must be incorporated into existing plant, while there are definite budgetary and financial advantages to the upgrade option.
The fabrication department of Broadbent’s manufacturing division is equipped with a large selection of plant to cope with medium to heavy fabrication requirements of centrifuges and similar equipment. Overhead lifting facilities with the capacity of 25 tonnes up to a maximum lift of 50 tonnes and flexible positioners ensure that optimum welding arrangements are used, leading to high integrity welds. Extensive use of both internal and external NDT test houses confirms the weld quality and ensures it conforms to the agreed quality plans and weld procedures.
The ability to adapt quickly to change has contributed to Broadbent’s longevity and currently it is reacting to the market shift towards Asia: “The active markets are in the Far East – China, Asia in general, and India – certainly for the petrochemical plant products,” says John. “Because sugar cane is predominantly produced in the US, South Africa, and Indonesia, the market for the sugar industry tends to be the tropical equator belt. Our business has changed over the years and we now export a significant 97 per cent of what we manufacture, compared with 50 per cent 20 years ago and this is because there’s been no real development in the UK market.”
Backed by a team of highly skilled, knowledgeable individuals, R&D is at the forefront of Broadbent’s strategy for growth and its experienced in-house design team comprises over 25 engineers and laboratory staff. “R&D is crucial if we are to progress and we aim to conduct three major R&D projects per year. It is important tokeep abreast of technology and ahead of the competition,” states John. “Machines have improved significantly in terms of quality, cost and performance with major changes particularly in the types of materials available. For example, standard stainless steel has progressed towards super duplex alloys, and there have been significant advances in abrasion protection in terms of ceramics and adhesives. There is a definite trend in increasing equipment size to cope with the everchanging demands in the industry, and with the production plants we serve increasing in capacity, we have had to develop larger centrifuges. We actually have the largest commercially available centrifuge for certain processes. With extensive dedicated in-house manufacturing facilities, we are able to provide our clients with equipment built to international standards.”
Being in a very competitive market, Broadbent, like every other company in the industry is battling through a challenging phase. Despite these ongoing concerns, the business is quietly confident of its future. Focused on its objective of being rated by its clients as their foremost supplier for reliability, delivery and service, Broadbent constantly works to deliver to its customers on time, every time and to keep its products running at all times. These goals are embodied in the philosophy of the company, forming an integral part of everyone’s training and day-to-day objectives.
Thomas Broadbent & Sons
Products: Solid-liquid separation systems, centrifuges and related equipment
Sites: Huddersfield, UK