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SCM: We've gone from strength to strength

02 May 2012

Jon Boulton, MD of SCM Handling, tells FP Express about the company's history and objectives, and details its work with the food industry

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Can you define what SCM is?
SCM is a high tech engineering solution provider working within the FMCG environment, designing and installing end of line robotic systems. Outside of this area SCM has a wealth of knowledge in bespoke materials handling globally, in association with many major Blue Chip Companies.

What is it about SCM's process that makes it better than its competitors?
Other than the obvious answer that we produce on some of the best cost effective, well engineered systems with Europe's number one robot supplier (KUKA). Within our business we work closely as a team - all fully trained engineers. We work very closely with our customers, not selling them a solution, but engineering them a system. It is our policy to have engineering input from the beginning, monopolising on the wealth of technical experience we have in-house. Customer feedback has always been very positive and we're always getting complimented on our team approach.

Detail a case study involving SCM and the food industry
The Premier Foods sauces production facility at Bury St Edmunds recently commissioned a major upgrade for improved efficiencies and capacity on a key brand within its portfolio. The Lloyd Grossman line has been re-equipped with several installations including the latest end-of-line robotic palletising system from SCM Handling/Kuka robotics. The robot cell built and tested at SCM in Taunton, Somerset utilises the high performance proven palletising KR180 robot from Kuka alongside custom built product handling and empty/full pallet handling systems within a self-contained cell configuration. The robot with its 180KG payload capacity handles three sizes of sauce jars in shrinkwrapped formations at up to 50 trays per minute and palletises onto GKN or Euro pallets.

How does SCM regard the fragile economic climate for the rest of the year?
It has been a difficult economic climate over the past two years, of which we have still not seen the end. However as a business SCM have gone from strength to strength throughout this period, we have found that automation has been key with customers wanting to increase their productivity whilst reducing overheads.

Is lean manufacturing something in which SCM is interested?
SCM operates a very strong lean manufacturing policy (just in time engineering). This is carried out through call off orders with suppliers and consignment stock for consumables. As SCM out source all their in-house designed components, lean manufacturing continues through the supply chain (keeping waste to a minimum).

Does the company invest in skills development?
SCM allocates a large portion of its budget in skills and personnel development, from apprentices through to utilising the most advanced design 3D software. There is a continuous skill improvement procedure within the business as part of our H&S policy.

Could you elaborate on the hierarchy of the UK office?
Jon Boulton is managing director (owner), Alan Larcombe is MCIPS general manager and Lorraine Boulton is company secretary.

What is the history and origins of SCM UK?
SCM originally stood for (Simon Corrugated Machinery), a very old company with an excellent reputation in the corrugated industry. I bought the business about 10 years ago as a material handling company, primarily working on the paper film and foils sector. Today SCM is operating out of a state-of-the-art purpose build facility and is a successful material handling company and one of KUKA robots' leading affiliate integrators.

Could you tell us more about your background with respect to the food & beverage sector?
Material handling is where we started in the food and beverage industry, providing handling solutions from basic manipulators to fully automated systems. This has been going on since the company started with companies such as Greencore, Premier Foods, McVities, Walkers and Procter & Gamble to name a few. This side of the business has grown considerably over the past 18 months, increasing the robotic automation side of the business. Primarily the UK has been very slow in embracing robots in comparison to the rest of Europe. We're seeing a significant change in this mindset with customers realising the benefits of automation. Resulting in significant cost savings while improving throughput and reliability.

How important are exhibitions such as PPMA, Foodex and Pro2Pac, and international fairs?
In this modern technological driven world that is becoming smaller by the day, the question has to be asked about the importance of exhibitions. SCM are fairly prudent when it comes to exhibiting owing to the escalating costs associated with them. Having said that we always attend the PPMA and are active PPMA and BARA members. We also attend Total which we find very beneficial. Owing to the diverse nature of our customer base we do carry out open-house seminars demonstrating new technology to dedicated customers. We find this works well as it allows us to spend more time in a relaxed manor with our customers.

Is there anything else you'd like to add about your company?
SCM is a specialised, family owned company, which has been trading from our Taunton base for the past nine years. We're very proud of our reputation and employee skills. In fact most of our staff have been with SCM since the business started. Over the years, we've been involved with many major large blue-chip organisations with continued, ongoing relationships providing material handling solutions to the highest level.

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