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Making magic in the middle

18 March 2011

FP Express reports on a visit to Brammer's National Distribution Centre in Wolverhampton, where he was given a tour of the Centre of Excellence and spoke to Jeremy Salisbury, marketing manager

Each month Brammer applies a levy of £1 to each employee and the total pot goes to the lucky staff member who draws the winning ticket. It's an idea that makes perfect sense - who wouldn't be happy knowing they're in with a chance of scoring hundreds of pounds each month, for a paltry quid they wouldn't miss anyway?

The winnings are divided between the lucky employee and the Make A Wish Foundation.

This sums up Brammer's ethos better than any other example. The company, which was founded by Harry Brammer, an innovator in belts and power transmission, in 1920 in Leeds, is a Europe distributor of industrial maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) products and services.

It says it specialises in providing fast, friendly local service and offering same or next day delivery of the parts needed by manufacturing companies to keep production running smoothly.

Ian Ritchie, MD of Brammer, is responsible for 800 people in the UK, based across its 83 sales and service centre locations, its head office and National Distribution Centre (NDC) in Wolverhampton. The company remains British-owned, registered on the London Stock Exchange, and has operations in 13 countries, employing 2,400 people in 300 branch locations.

I recently visited the NDC and spoke to marketing manager Jeremy Salisbury, who gave me a tour of the Centre of Excellence, which Brammer uses to showcase its suppliers such as Bosch Rexroth, Siemens, Festo and Rocol Lubricants.

This 5,800sqft facility is said to be unique in the MRO world. Not only does it showcase the suppliers' products but it also demonstrates them in use in a range of applications, while providing a 21st century training environment and conferencing facility.

Unusually in the world of food processing, Brammer has a vested interest in both machinery suppliers and end-users. ''We assume the supplying job, which may be done by several small companies,'' says Jeremy, ''and incorporate it into a single, cost-saving task. Once we have all the supplies, we become the go-to company for the end-users who need the parts in their factories. We make their job easier and save them money.''

In fact Brammer is targeting the food and beverage industry to the extent that it's familiar with the key issues that have an impact on the parts used in production.

Here, for instance, is an example of how it applies its expertise to help companies in the bakery sector across Europe: A large bakery in the UK, producing more than one million sandwiches a week for leading supermarkets, suffered a belt breakdown on one of its sandwich lines which would cost the business £5,000 per hour in downtime.

After placing an urgent inquiry with the machine manufacturer, a quote was received citing delivery in 24 hours, which would represent a significant cost to the business. Faced with this, the bakery's chief storeman contacted Brammer to source a workable solution, and through its extensive stock and sales & service centre network was able to source and deliver the required parts within three hours.

The customer was then able to get the machine operational again 21 hours ahead of schedule, which resulted in a considerable cost saving to the business in downtime and lost production.

But bakeries aren't the only sector in food and drink into which Brammer applies its expertise. It has worked with a large brewery in the UK which was having problems with the efficiency of the geared motors on its conveyors. The conveying system was originally equipped with a helical-worm drive, rated at 1.5kW at 82 rpm, giving an overall drive efficiency of more than 59%.

Brammer, working with its supplier partners, carried out an efficiency survey on the conveyor systems, and recommended installing a helical beval geared motor configuration. On following Brammer's recommendations, the conveying systems have now been optimised to 0.55kW, which has increased efficiency to 81%, delivering significant savings in energy for the brewery.

Finally, there's the example of Brammer's work in the soft drinks industry. In this case, the Flattop chains used in the PET bottles line at a carbonated drinks plant in Spain, which fills 25,000 bottles per hour was being lubricated with soap and water.

The company could see no other solution but recognised this represented a health and safety risk to workers, as floors were often slippery. In addition, there were environmental concerns relating to the need to recycle the soap used. The Brammer sales staff proposed an alternative lubricant free chain that eliminated those problems together.


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