Fabrication Provides Safer Access

Normally when we walk around, we do not tend to take much notice of the gratings and manhole covers in the roads and pavements. However, for one company, Fabweld Steel Products (FSP), of Madeley, Telford, they have proved to be the key to an extremely successful business.

According to managing director, Richard Hilton, “The business has been going for over 20 years. We have now put into place a firm business plan covering the next five years and this provides for us to grow by about 35%. Within this plan is a commitment to develop a range of specialist products for niche markets. Over the last 20 years, we have built a solid reputation for customer service, based upon rapid quote reaction, rapid technical feedback, rapid manufacturing lead times and on time delivery.”

The five-year plan includes two major investment programmes. The first is for the purchase and installation of a new Trumpf laser cutting and profiling machine. This will offer improved quality and the opportunity to develop current products and future designs. The second investment is in R&D. For a number of years now, Fabweld has had a successful partnership with the University of Wolverhampton. Previous collaborations have involved two Knowledge, Innovation, Technology Transfer Schemes (KITTS) and a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP). In 2006 the KITTS helped FSP to develop its first website and improve its Computer Aided Design technology. In 2009 the KTP improved FSP’s website further and also helped to introduce the FAB brands to the market. The latest partnerships involve four design projects which include recessed access covers.

According to Richard, “There is a growing trend towards an aesthetically pleasing recessed cover, where the top is filled with concrete, tarmac or paviours to match the surrounding area. There are currently two major problems – one is cheap imports while the second is the sheer weight of these covers when filled, which could be as much as 150kg. We had long discussions with the utility companies and believe we have now come up with two designs, which will meet the market needs. This is essential as there is now a new British Standard – BS 9124 – for access covers larger than 1m by 1m and our first design will meet these requirements. The second one is for recessed covers that are filled with blocks. The new ‘Fab Pave’ covers will lift and then slide out, thereby meeting requirements for manual handling.”

The fabrication shops at Madeley produce a wide range of products for the access and drainage industry in both mild steel that is subsequently galvanised (currently about 75% of production) and stainless steel (25%). One of the strengths of the company is its in–house CAD department. Customers can bring their initial designs and Fabweld’s design team can simulate loads without the expensive requirement of building test samples. They will then look to see if it can be improved or redesigned in such a way as to facilitate fabrication. The fabrication shops are equipped with cutting edge machinery that enables them to produce not only the access covers but also gratings, ladders and even flood alleviation products. The FAB range of products are used in shopping malls, schools and sports stadiums to swimming pools, dockyards and other heavy industrial sites.

For further information please telephone 01952 581430 or visit www.manholes.co.uk

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