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MTC helps crop sprayer maker double turnover

One of Chafer’s iconic crop-sprayers

One of the UK’s leading manufacturers of agricultural crop sprayers has doubled its turnover without increasing overheads with the help of experts from the Manufacturing Technology Centre, part of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, supported by Innovate UK.

Chafer Machinery, which can trace its history back more than 100 years, has reduced the time needed to build its crop-spraying machines from 370 hours to 205 hours, resulting in major savings and improvements in delivery times.

An SME team from the MTC’s Manufacturing Support Services operation, based in Coventry, worked with Chafer to help them meet delivery times, reduce build hours, increase capacity and improve flexibility, ensuring on-time delivery to customers.

The MTC team improved the factory layout at Chafer’s Gainsborough manufacturing plant, reduced work in progress, reduced production costs and identified areas where investment in technology could bring about productivity and profitability gains. Chafer’s workforce was involved in the improvement programme which reduced man hours per machine by 45 per cent.

Chafer Managing Director Rob Starkey said, “We’ve managed to double our turnover in two years without significantly increasing our overhead costs. We’ve been able to adapt to big changes in an environment that’s already busy. Having the MTC behind us has made the changes easier and more achievable.”

Chafer builds technologically advanced spraying equipment for the agricultural and aviation industries. The company was established in 1901 and designs and manufactures all of its sprayers in the UK.

Dean Baker, Director of the MTC’s Business Launch Centre and Manufacturing Support Services team, said the work with Chafer had demonstrated how MTC teams could use their expertise to improve productivity and competitiveness in established SMEs.

He said, “We were delighted to help Chafer, one of the many SMEs we are working with, to improve their profitability and productivity and maintain a successful and sustainable business.”

The MTC’s Manufacturing Support Services team works with SMEs to improve productivity and processes. They have access to the MTC’s world-class advanced manufacturing and research facilities, as well as the MTC’s team of engineering and manufacturing experts.

The team has worked with more than 500 SMEs, and at any one time has more than 150 live projects.

The MTC was founded by the University of Birmingham, Loughborough University, the University of Nottingham and TWI Ltd. The MTC’s industrial members include some of the UK’s major global manufacturers.

The MTC aims to provide a competitive environment to bridge the gap between university-based research and the development of innovative manufacturing solutions, in line with the Government’s manufacturing strategy.