Press investment at Barkley Plastics marks 55 years in business

2 min read

A £250,000 investment in presses and robots is proving to be a perfect birthday present for a plastic injection moulding and tool-making specialist. Barkley Plastics, which employs 120 people at its Highgate facility in Birmingham, is celebrating 55 years of business by increasing its capacity to help take on orders it has secured in automotive interiors and lighting. The latest installation takes the company’s total capital machinery spend to over £800,000 in the past five years and highlights the firm’s desire to move into more cosmetic and technical products that require processing accuracy.

Barkley Plasticsstarted life after founder John Barkley placed a job advert in the Birmingham Evening Mail for four tool makers. In the 55 years that followed, the company has evolved its offer to remain a strategic supplier to the automotive sector, while also building a strong reputation in the domestic product, construction, electrical and leisure sectors, not to mention producing 20,000 plastic baubles for the world’s largest chandelier, used at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

“Things have never been quiet over the past 55 years, but I suppose that’s UK manufacturing for you,” states Mark Harwood, managing director. “We always try to stay one step ahead of what the customer wants, and this is reflected in the latest process, which gives us additional capacity and production control to take on more automotive work. There will also be news of a ground-breaking development in injection moulding before the end of the year.

“The £250,000 investment is a perfect birthday present and will immediately be put to use supporting a new project that will see us manufacture a selection of small, high-volume JLR parts that will go across its range of vehicles,” continues Harwood. “There’s no getting away from the fact that capital spend is vital, but our people continue to be crucial. We’ve got more than 10 people who have been with us for 40 years and David Challinor, son of one of the founding members, only retired from the tool room at the end of the year having given 48 years of service.”

Barkley Plastics, which is IATF16949 accredited, has one of the largest tool-making facilities in the UK, producing tools capable of delivering 50 million mouldings. The company can support its expanding client base with initial design and product development, right through to manufacture and assembly, with over 40 modern moulding presses ranging from 5 to 650 tonne. This capability is evident in the creation of a dedicated interior lighting assembly cell to mainly support a new project for the Nissan Juke, which has now gone into full production.

Technical director Pete Tedd, who will take over as managing director when Harwood moves to the position of chairman in April, says: “The increasing range of new electric and hybrid vehicles presents some exciting opportunities that suit our expertise, while work is being undertaken to increase our share of the construction, electronics, medical and retail sectors.”

He adds: “We’re predominantly a subcontractor, but over the past few years have been looking to develop our own range of products, such as Plasfloor floor tiles and an anti-static ESD option.

“This is an exciting year for Barkley Plastics and I’m looking forward to moving into the MD role next month. Succession planning is a priority for the business and we have been working hard to develop our senior management team, which will culminate in a number of new directors being appointed in October to support our growth plans.”

Barkley Plastics is a founder member of the Manufacturing Assembly Network (MAN), a 10-strong collective of subcontract manufacturers and a specialist engineering design agency.