Established in 1907 just a few yards from their current premises, Cameron-Robb originally made a name for itself in formed wire baskets, shelves and scoops aimed at the fish and chip and catering trades. It was in 1979 that David Snell’s father Brian purchased Cameron and moved it to the current busy premises. Since then the company has expanded through acquisition and now covers a large works’ area in Lombard Street, Birmingham.
Wire bending and welding is in the blood of MD David Snell, his enthusiasm and attention to detail is in evident as we walk around the works, checking quality and answering operator’s questions; all the time surrounded by shiny coiled wire feed stock or the shrink-wrapped end products destined for caterers, supermarkets, pos display companies or white goods’ manufacturers.
It was back in 1994 that David was tasked by his father to source a wire frame, form and butt weld machine fed from coil. The then current method of manual operated BTC cutters and Gensch hand benders were not up to the increasing production demands.
A visit to the Dusseldorf show in that year saw David visiting the Whitlegg Machine stand where he quickly realised that the speed and quality of their CFM bending and forming machine was what he needed for his company.
An order for the first CFM was quickly followed by a second and third offering 6 and 4mm wire dia. capacities. In 2015 a CFR ring former and butt welder completed the inventory; this replaced the time-consuming method of hand-forming rings by hand or cut from spirals which were bought in.
The Whitelegg machines were easy to set up enabling previously untrained staff to quickly learn their way around the interactive touch screens. They can be adapted for strip or wire and incorporate straighteners and a highly accurate feed system to the freely programmable bend head. A huge variety of shapes are possible thus squares, rectangles, ovals and rings can be manufactured complete, without the need for second operation.
Asked about challenges to the business, the inevitable answer was, “China!” Along with so much of UK manufacturing, China has taken the mass-produced high-volume production of items such a supermarket baskets, trolleys, racks and bins.
But despite this, how does David keep 50+ staff employed with a turnover approaching £2.75M.? Quickly comes the answer: “Hard work, attention to detail, customer service and quick turn round of shorter run items which cannot be matched by overseas suppliers”.
David continues: “We are getting shorter and shorter lead times. I recently had an order for a supermarket which asked for 100 units which required 4 primary operations, a ‘T’ weld, 2× bar welding, nibbling a MIG weld and plated all within 3 days! Likewise an order for chicken cookers, (those on which the chicken is placed upright and rotate around the heater elements). The order was for 160 units in stainless 6mm wire, and it was here the Whitelegg machine showed its credentials. From the forming to delivery we had 11 days including weekends to produce the goods.”
For more information about the CFM bending and forming machine and other Whitelegg equipment, please visit www.whitelegg.com.