All fired up

When Ours Sanitaryware acquired the former Ideal Standard Middlewich plant just over one year ago, the plan was not only to manufacture their Impulse Bathrooms range of products for the UK Market, but also to build business making and supplying OEM ceramic sanitaryware for UK and world markets.

The company has now reached a milestone in production levels which has led to bringing the 85 metre tunnel kiln into 24/7 operation. In order to be cost efficient, tunnel kilns need to be in permanent operation with a continuous feed of product running through the placing firing and inspection process around the clock. Consistent and significant order volume has now been established through the addition of UK and export OEM business, together with growth from Impulse Bathrooms.

This growth plan has come steadily and quietly into effect and Ours Sanitaryware now supply a number of bathroom customers in Europe, America and now Australia.

“By recruiting an expert and skilled workforce gained with Ideal Standard and Twyfords, both of which closed their ‘pottery’ factories around the same time, we instantly gained technical knowhow and a very healthy ‘can do, will do’ attitude which has been instrumental in helping us to gain this OEM business”

says Ours Sanitary Ware Global Manufacturing Director Brian Standbridge.

“At the same time we have been able to bring back manufacturing to its spiritual home in the UK”.

In fact the plan is working very well indeed and the company is growing quickly, fuelled by exporting as well as developing UK products – which is very much in tune with the country’s needs to work its way out of its current economic climate.

“The OEM business is not taking work from other British factories”

adds Brian

“It is bringing in new business from abroad – business which would previously have been going to China or other low cost production countries. Over the last year or so we have successfully generated a sustainable Impulse and OEM order book to make bringing the tunnel kiln into operation an economic proposition.”

This growth of business has been achieved because of the flexibility of the employees at Ours Sanitaryware and its in-house capability for managing the whole process from modelling to production in a short lead time.

The plant now employs a 160 strong workforce and has a capacity to produce up to 750,000 pieces of high quality ceramic sanitaryware a year. New product development is also underway to add to the Impulse Bathrooms ranges to meet the ever changing style requirements for the UK market.

In addition the production team has been strengthened to cope with the planned increase in demand with the employment of more production operatives and Brian Keeley returning from his overseas role in production at the China factory to run the Middlewich production.