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Ascott’s 30-year-old chamber still in perfect working order

The 30-year-old Ascott chamber in the factory demo room, next to one of the latest climate testing models

A corrosion test chamber manufactured 30 years ago by a Midlands factory has arrived back at headquarters – in perfect working order. 

One of Ascott Analytical Systems Ltd’s long-standing customers, a US-based aerospace and power generation company, wanted to upgrade its old salt spray chamber, used to test the climate resistance of its products.

So Ascott sold the company a new model and brought the original back to its factory on the Lichfield Road Industrial Estate in Tamworth.

Staff discovered that, 30 years on, the 2m-wide chamber – complete with PATT testing stickers and service records – was still in perfect working order.

It was due to be re-calibrated this April, for another year of daily use.

Tim Hearn, Business Development Manager for Ascott Analytical Systems Ltd, said staff were delighted a piece of company history had returned to HQ.

“We opened the factory here in Tamworth in 1989,” he said.

“And this was one of the first chambers we ever built.

“We were very happy to ship a new chamber out to our customer’s facility when they said they wanted to upgrade their existing one.

“But we were absolutely staggered when the old chamber came back here and we realised it was one of our originals, and that it had been in daily use for all that time, right up until we delivered the new one.

“It really is testament to the quality of products we manufactured then, and the quality of products we manufacture now. All that’s changed is the technology we use to produce them and the extra capabilities our customers now require.”

Ascott, which celebrates its 30th birthday this year, was founded by Chairman Chris Gates as a specialist manufacturer of corrosion test cabinets.

Now it employs more than 30 people and has recently expanded its base to include a vast new factory floor, offices and a demo room – where the original chamber now sits in pride of place.

“I couldn’t believe it when the chamber arrived back here,” Chris added. “We had no idea until it was brought back in that it was one of the first ones we ever made.

“In fact, I can remember spraying the panels in my back garden.

“The factory is very much more high-tech today – our chambers speak several different languages and test to some of the world’s most stringent standards – so it’s great to be reminded of our beginnings.”

Today, Ascott is one of the leading designers and suppliers of test chambers in the world, exporting 95% of its equipment to more than 100 countries.

It supplies its chambers – which allow manufacturers to monitor the corrosion resistance of aircraft and vehicle components – to most of the globe’s major aerospace and automotive groups.

Household names include Jaguar Land Rover, Volvo, Tesla, Bentley and Ford along with Safran, Airbus and Boeing.

Major markets are the US, India, China, Japan and Europe, with a growing presence in the Far East and Australia.

Chambers range from small, 120l machines to vast 2,600l-capacity cabinets large enough to take a whole car, motorbike or major aircraft component.

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