Dales Fabrications Ltd

Funding used to upgrade machinery has enabled the business to increase capacity and deliver quality improvements that have supported business growth.

Based in Ilkeston, Dales Fabrications Ltd works with architects and contractors across the UK to enhance the appearance of buildings. Specifically, this includes designing and manufacturing an extensive range of standard and bespoke aluminium building products.

Why engage with Invest to Grow?

To support its next phase of growth Dales Fabrications identified the need to install an improved in-house powder coating plant and an updated guillotine operation.

Although Dales’ had a small existing powder coating machine, its limited functionality and capacity meant the majority of its powder coating was undertaken by external suppliers. As much of the company’s work involves powder coating, this reliance on external organisations limited the control, speed and capacity of its activity. The company’s existing guillotine had been operational for over 16 years and was becoming less reliable whilst also constraining capacity.

Having identified these key investment needs, Dales Fabrications was awarded over £42,000 from Invest to Grow towards purchasing them.

What has been the impact of Invest to Grow?

The new powder coating plant was installed by Haviland Ovens of Ilkeston and became operational in November 2018. Whilst it was not designed to undertake all of the company’s powder coating needs in-house, it has significantly increased in-house capacity and is also used for the most important and time-sensitive jobs. This has provided immediate benefits by increasing the level of control and reliability that Dales Fabrications has over the speed and quality of its work. It also means the business can avoid the significant minimum order charges for its many smaller jobs by undertaking these in-house.

The quality of the plant has since been recognised through the business becoming one of only around 30 organisations in the UK to receive the prestigious full applicator approval from industry coating leaders, Syntha Pulvin. Craig Wilson, Business Development Manager of Sherwin Williams (which owns Syntha Pulvin) commented:

“Dales’ very tight tolerances and quality control was evident during the tests - the metal oven temperature gauge used in the Dales’ plant is the most accurate I have ever seen…allowing consistent quality at all times. I actually took the temperature trace graph away with me to use in our training to demonstrate what is possible!”

Karl Prosser, Managing Director of Dales Fabrications, also commented on the plant’s high quality and the benefits this provides:

“After the first few weeks we realised the high levels of quality and consistent finishes coming from the plant. By undertaking key jobs in-house we can also monitor our quality, identifying and rectifying any defects immediately.”

A further benefit of the new plant stems from its positive environmental features, including the avoidance of using chromate.

The new guillotine was delivered in March 2019. This has provided the benefits of increased capacity, speed and reliability. For example, two cutting activities can now occur simultaneously, increasing efficiency. At the same time the new machine has greater functionality, for example enabling the business to run bigger girth material through it with absolute precision due to its high-tech measuring equipment.

The increased capacity, speed, reliability and quality which has occurred as a result of the Invest to Grow funding has led to additional positive impacts for Dales Fabrications. These have included the creation of four new jobs, representing around ten per cent of the business’ workforce. Karl Prosser commented:

“The funding from Invest to Grow has directly led to four new jobs. This has included two new apprentices, an additional person in the factory and an additional driver. This is due to increasing sales and turnover as a result of the new equipment.”

Dales Fabrications expects its turnover to continue to increase over the next year and beyond. Without the funding from Invest to Grow, it was anticipated by Karl Prosser that the investment would have been delayed considerably, given the potential difficulties that are anticipated in the wider national-economy in the coming months.

The support received through Invest to Grow provided a very positive experience of the University of Derby for Dales Fabrications. Furthermore, one of the business’ apprentices has recently completed a degree programme at the University. Karl Prosser is now hopeful that one of the apprentices recently employed as a result of the Invest to Grow funding will commence a degree programme at the University from September 2020.

“Our apprentice had a great experience on the degree programme at the University of Derby, achieving a 2:1. We are now looking to put one of our new apprentices through an engineering degree course at the University next year. It is a great process as they get to complete a degree whilst also gaining valuable experience in industry.”


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