Tidyco Ltd, based in Derby, has over 40 years’ experience of supplying hydraulic and pneumatic products and services to the rail, defence, utilities and manufacturing industries. It is a fully certified major distributor for the Parker Hannifin product range and has the following six core divisions; Tidyco Rail, Tidyco Hydraulics, Tidyco Pneumatics, Tidyco Hose Doctor, Tidyco Tube Bending and Tidyco Climate Control.
Why engage with Invest to Grow?
The provision of high quality products is a key component of Tidyco’s offer to its customers. It therefore became concerned when the quality of parts it was purchasing were not to the standard it required; this specifically related to the provision of stainless steel tubing with bends to meet critical measurements. Tidyco could only undertake limited small batch tube bending in-house as it only had one basic semi-automated bending machine, with all measurements needing to be measured manually. For larger orders Tidyco would sub-contract the tube bending and welding, meaning it was less responsive to immediate customer requirements and was reliant on external providers who would often not meet the high standards the firm’s customers have come to expect.
Tidyco therefore made the decision to invest in a fully automated tube bending machine so it could undertake all tube manipulation in-house. The business has enjoyed a good relationship with the University of Derby for a number of years and had been discussing their investment plans with Invest to Grow for some time. This ongoing relationship gave Tidyco the confidence to submit a successful bid to access grant funding of £44,589. This contributed towards a wider project to:
- purchase a CNC tube bending machine and associated tooling;
- purchase a robotic measuring arm;
- develop a dedicated weld bay and extraction system; and
- purchase a modelling programme.
Following the support from Invest to Grow, Tidyco has also engaged with the University through an export programme, prototype development and a ‘job swap’ with an undergraduate. Philip Mason commented that Tidyco was keen to continue this positive working relationship, particularly in relation to emerging new products and services.
“Working with the University has been a positive experience that I would be keen to repeat. For example, we recently did a project to look at how we could increase our exports. I worked with the University and asked them to set it as a task for their business class. I went to talk to the students about what we currently do for exports and asked them to create a plan. That went really well.”
What has been the impact of Invest to Grow?
The machines and equipment arrived in April 2018. The immediate effect has been Tidyco’s increased ability to provide high quality tube manipulation services for its clients. As it can now deliver this service in-house, Tidyco can also respond more quickly to customer need. This increase in production speed, together with greater accuracy of measurement enabled by the new equipment, provides the business with a unique selling point.
Although the project is in its early stages, Tidyco has achieved its year one turnover goal for tube bending in less than 7 months and have set a year three turnover target of £1million which the company is confident will be achieved.
The project supported by Invest to Grow funding is expected to create six new jobs, two of which have already been filled; one in sales and one in customer services. Furthermore, the business has recently appointed a Quality Assurance (QA) apprentice, who will start their role in September 2018. In addition, Tidyco is considering the appointment of a full-time sales manager focused solely around the business’ tube manipulation activities, with the potential for this to become a specific sixth service division of Tidyco.
Part of the overall project included the provision of training for staff focused on the new tube bending machine and modelling activity. This has enabled significant additional knowledge to be developed within Tidyco. In particular, it now has the ability to utilise and operate CNC technology, having never previously owned a CNC machine. Philip Mason explained that this had taken the business to another level:
“The Invest to Grow award has made a huge difference for our company. We now have a state of the art modelling arm and CNC tube bender, the same as many very big companies...we are using the latest technology to get level with them.”
It is anticipated that Tidyco will purchase additional CNC machines in the future, utilising its new transferable skills. Indeed, it is keen to continue investing, recognising it now has high quality infrastructure and technology that it could use to progress other products. Tidyco also anticipates using its new capability to consider wider markets, having to date focused upon existing customers.
Philip Mason stated that Tidyco had been considering purchasing its own CNC machinery for a number of years. He felt that, without the support and financial incentive provided by Invest to Grow, the business would probably not yet have gone ahead with the project. He commented:
“We have been talking about this for over ten years. Invest to Grow enabled us to move ahead with confidence. It’s a big commitment and a lot of money to do this and the funding from Invest to Grow made us say ‘yes’.”
Philip Mason spoke highly of the University of Derby and the Invest to Grow team, referring to its ongoing support regarding the project. There was also recognition of the University’s significant and increasing engagement with the local business community:
“Through the University of Derby I organised an undergraduate ‘job swap’ with one of the students from the IT department. He wanted work experience and I wanted a better understanding of IT. He showed me things I could do a lot better and I showed him what the life of work was about. It was great for both of us. We worked as a partnership with the University.”