Alderman Tooling

Innovative Devon-based company invests to target new opportunities and connect with potential customers 

Alderman Tooling is an SME company which specialises in bespoke metal fabrication. As with many manufacturers, the company has experienced changes in demand due to COVID-19.  

 “We have customers across a wide variety of markets,” commented Managing Director Karen Friendship.  “Whereas demand in some sectors has declined, others have increased, so we have sought opportunities to serve the growing areas.”

Aldermans has developed a diverse and flexible service, which includes CNC laser cutting and punching, metal bending and folding, CNC turning, fabrication, and assembly.  This versatility has enabled the company to respond quickly and apply its skills to new products. 

By speaking to existing customers, Aldermans found opportunities to supply into key markets, which included assisting the urgent call for NHS equipment. The company has recently supplied metalwork to produce extra components for Assisted Care beds and chairs and has helped a customer in the new production of sample parts for mechanised breathing aids.

Metal assembly for mechanical breathing aid

Aldermans identified a need for investment to ensure their systems were equipped to meet new demands, both those brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, and for future customers. SWMAS were able to help with fundamental IT developments by providing a grant towards the upgrade and replacement of all key manufacturing computer hardware. This has helped improve Aldermans’ design capabilities and internal communications by implementing a live shop floor data collection system for better productivity. “This major overhaul of computing capability has added an additional layer of resilience to our operations going forward”, Karen continued.

This forward-thinking company has now turned their attention to the products needed as lockdown restrictions continue to ease. Further innovative developments include a portable hand washing station which can provide additional hygiene facilities wherever needed, but would be particularly beneficial as schools re-open, and the hospitality sector adapts to safely organise events and open attractions in the ‘New Normal’.

The Jengu portable sink

Karen concluded, “We have adapted our offering to suit current conditions and will continue to do so as the situation changes over the coming months. It’s important to maintain good relationships during these difficult times, to support and learn from fellow manufacturers and find new opportunities for collaboration in the future.”

Aldermans are a great example of innovation and adaptation. We have worked with them for over 15 years and have built a great relationship over this time. It is always refreshing to hear their new ideas for business growth and help in any way we can. This latest investment has enabled them to grasp new opportunities and will ensure they can continue to effectively meet changing customer needs. We look forward to providing further support as and when they call for it.

Phil Halse, Manufacturing Specialist

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Support has been provided through the High-Value Manufacturing Advisory Programme (HVMAP) in the Heart of the South West, which is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

Fully-funded business development support and grants are available to small and medium-sized manufacturing companies across the South West - read more here.