Optimal Industrial Automation, a leader in data management for PAT (Process Analytical Technology), and a designer, builder, programmer and installer of PLC, SCADA, DCS, MES and vision systems, celebrated its 25th anniversary on 1 January 2012.
Founded in 1987 by Martin Gadsby and David Richards – both ex-KRAFT research employees – Optimal is now a leading developer and integrator of process analytical technology (PAT) for the life sciences and chemical sectors, using its own in-house developed synTQ data management software. The software is now used all around the world, following the conclusion of a Global Marketing Alliance with Emerson Process Management in February 2009.
Optimal is also a leader in vision systems – manufacturing its own 21 CFR Part 11 compliant packages – and is in the first rank of UK systems integrators, evidenced by its appointments as a Tier 1 Solutions Provider for Siemens, an Approved Systems Integrator for ABB, and a Software Solutions Provider for Rockwell Automation. In addition, Optimal has for some years been an approved Siemens WinCC Professional and PCS7 Integrator. Only a very select number of companies have been audited, examined and approved as high-level integrators for the Simatic WinCC and PCS7 product ranges including FDA 21 CFR Part II compliant projects in the pharmaceutical industry.
Martin Gadsby says: "We are a well kept secret at Optimal, due to so many of the high-level projects we undertake being covered by non-disclosure agreements. We have worked with most of the top-tier life sciences suppliers on automation and PAT projects, and have designed and implemented automation projects across many sectors – automotive, food and drink, chemical, power generation, aerospace – that improve quality, throughput and time to market. But the nature of these projects means that we are never allowed to go public with them.
"However, industry insiders talk to each other, and our success in one project has resulted in many more, simply via word of mouth – third party recommendation, which is very gratifying and shows that we are delivering exactly what our customers are demanding."
International developer of special-purpose machinery
Over 25 years Optimal has grown from a UK-only developer of special-purpose machinery into an international organisation, handling projects globally. Mr Gadsby says: "We now work all over the world: this first started by clients taking us abroad to replicate projects that we had executed for them in the UK and Europe. The expansion of our technology base that accompanied our growing international outreach also resulted in a growth of skilled personnel. One consequence of this was our first project in Machine Vision technology undertaken about eight years ago. This took us full circle, in that clients often require the complete machine as well as the vision system, and so we now once again design and build special-purpose machines."
Evidence of Optimal's continuing growth is provided by the company's modern purpose-built factory, strategically located on the Westerleigh Business Park, at Yate near Bristol. Built early in the new millennium, the facility represented a considerable investment by Optimal in its future. It offers some 12,000 square feet of offices and workshops, providing excellent facilities for the company's employees and clients. The new factory enables Optimal to provide a complete in-house design and build capability covering all automation aspects. These include: a broad-ranging software capability for its projects and products; electrical design and build; special-purpose machinery design and assembly; complete unit operation assembly and test in the factory; documentation and validation services; international installation and commissioning; and a range of training and post-sale support offerings.
Martin Gadsby adds: "Our employees are the key to our success. Some have been with the company for over 20 years, and many more have over 15 years' service. This ensures real continuity of our operations and preserves our skills base.
"In addition, despite the company having grown through the years, it still retains its core beliefs and ethos, providing our clients with first-class automation solutions designed to suit their needs. Our customers and their requirements come first: the technology is just the enabler."
About Optimal Industrial Automation Ltd
Optimal is a well-established system integrator with many years of experience, specialising in automating manufacturing systems for the food, pharmaceutical and life science industries to ensure that their production processes remain at the highest level of efficiency.
The demands being placed on manufacturers in relation to production costs, product quality and business sustainability are ever increasing; hence, the company's primary aim is to deliver measurable improvements in all these target areas.
Optimal employs a wide-ranging skill set covering automation technologies, manufacturing processes and industry experience in highly regulated environments. As part of the implementation of these services Optimal has also developed the synTQ PAT Data Management software package and the widely used integrated synTI Print and Inspect system. To find out more, go to www.optimal-ltd.co.uk.