Learning the hard way

The M Team

In early June this year we ventured deep in to the great greenery of the illustrious Surrey Hills for a company development day.

From a life-size game of minesweeper to a 40 foot high leap-of-faith from a tiny platform to a swinging trapeze, it was definitely a day full of thought-provoking and challenging activities requiring teamwork, communication, trust, co-operation and leadership. Together, we persevered through each task with our minds fixed on the desired end result.

It was definitely a day full of laughter and learning – and there was no better way to wrap things up than with a complimentary BBQ buffet. Yum!

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Magnet Schultz’s Merry Christmas

DSCN8944At this time of year when we celebrate and appreciate our friends and family, neighbours and loved ones, it is also important to remember all those around the world who aren’t as privileged as we are.

Each year Samaritan’s Purse – a non-denominational organisation, run Operation Christmas Child which provides an opportunity to brighten lives thousands of children in a tangible way in over 100 countries all over the world.

At Magnet Schultz here in Woking each employee has put together a beautifully-wrapped (except Kevin’s!) shoebox or two filled with all sorts of goodies for a little boy or girl.

Above we have our lovely Clare beaming amongst some of them; we hope that the young recipients will also be grinning from ear-to-ear then they open their shoebox/gift.

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Looking back on IFSEC

DSCF2298aIt’s been three months since we ventured to London’s ExCel exhibition centre, a new venue for IFSEC, which is one of the largest annual shows we attend. At its former home in the NEC near Birmingham, IFSEC filled several halls. It was no different in London, except that the layout of ExCel with all its halls in a row made the show look bigger still. In our analysis of our endeavours at IFSEC 2014, we must declare the show a success for Magnet Schultz Ltd.

Our stand was on a busy aisle to one side of the hall. As a result, there was plenty of passing traffic and our new displays attracted the attention of many passers-by as well as visitors who had specifically sought us out. Some of these, rather rewardingly, came as a result of our pre-show promotions where we announced the launch of no less than eight new products.

We blogged daily from the show back in June, so you can see our live reports below. Just scroll down to read about some of our prospects’ intriguing applications from Gate Locks for Kenya, Turkish Turnstiles and Shutter Latches for supermarket distribution trucks to overhead door locks, ten thousand Cabinet Locks for Australia and Shotbolts to eliminate pirate radio!

In true engineering fashion, the most meaningful measure of success for Magnet Schultz Ltd’s trade show participation comes in the form of visitor statistics and a comparison of our enquiry database metrics against the previous year (which we deemed a successful show). At IFSEC 2013, we fielded 142 enquiries of which 60 came from overseas and 82 from UK businesses. This year, we stretched that total by 7% to 152 enquiries. Interestingly, exactly 82 were again from the UK. Mathematically, we could therefore conclude that overseas enquiries were up by 16.6%. We are now in the process of converting these leads into real business. More on the outcome of that in future blogs.

However, an extra dimension that makes these figures more satisfying is that this year’s IFSEC event took place over three days; previous years have been at least four days long.

The show itself also enjoyed some reassuringly positive statistical facts, which must surely be a good sign for the industry and the economy: Total visitor numbers exceeded 30,750 representing a 5% increase on last year (and of course over just three days); plus an impressive 87% of the 2015 exhibition floor space was booked by exhibitors while still on site, before the close of the show. Magnet Schultz Ltd is among that number, so be sure to visit us at ExCel next year. IFSEC 2015 takes place from 16th to 18th June.

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IFSEC Day Three – Wrapped up well.

IFSEC 2014 last dayOur last day at IFSEC was a fitting end to a rather fine show. We like the new venue and visitors seemed to like it too. We await the organiser’s report of the final visitors numbers; suffice to say that there were plenty. It’s probably a good thing that we didn’t get to see every one of them, but we did harvest our fair share of leads – and let’s face it, that’s why we go to exhibitions.

On the subject of leads, our last day heralded a raft of enquiries, two of them particularly promising. One is from a vehicle company that does clever things with transportation for a leading supermarket. They need 760 (yes, seven hundred and sixty!) roller shutter door locks to secure the rotating handle – you’ve probably seen them on the back of their delivery trucks. How incredibly fortunate then that we chose IFSEC to launch our new Type 61L shotbolt – a product specifically designed for roller shutter security with its extra-long 20mm bolt travel? We could hardly have planned it better!

Another organisation came to our stand in search of security solutions for Cash-in-Transit vehicles – hmm, there seems to be an automotive theme emerging. This is something with which we have significant experience. We already provide bespoke solutions for similar vehicle security requirements. Several of our standard mechanism products fit this bill, in particular the new Minibolt, which is ideal for this sort of application – and another product launched at IFSEC.

By the end of the day, as we’ve come to expect, the visitor footfall dropped away, allowing us to pack up on time and leave the show behind for another year and be home in time to watch England in the World Cup – which turned out to be far less rewarding than our results from IFSEC!

Hopefully you’ll be pleased to hear that we have booked for IFSEC 2015, which runs at ExCel from 16th to 18th June 2015 where we expect to showcase more solutions for the security industry. But sadly, we have no solution for the England football team’s lacklustre performance.

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IFSEC Day Two – Raiding Parties from other Exhibitors

Surprisingly, the second day of IFSEC here at the ExCel centre was, we think, a little quieter than the first day. In our not inconsiderable trade show experience, that’s unusual – the middle day of most three-day events is often the busiest. That’s not to say that it wasn’t busy as we had another good day. But there were fleeting moments when we could afford to sit down and take a short break – witness the picture of Rob and Dorthe with their well-earned refreshments.

IFSEC 006

Could it have been this momentary lull in the normally manic proceedings that allowed some of the other exhibitors to get off their stands and mooch around the show? We’ll never know, but we were delighted to entertain a small group from a Turkish turnstile company with a stand further down the hall. They raided our exhibits (in the nicest possible way) in search of solenoids. It transpires that the existing solenoids they deploy are letting them down on a regular basis. Clearly not up to Magnet Schultz’s exceptional quality level! That’s a problem we can solve. In fact, we saw a fair number of visitors seeking solenoids and standard shotbolts.

Among those interested in our bespoke design skills was a gentleman from Kenya (we’ve had a few enquiries from Kenya recently) who will purchase 30 electric Gate Locks if we can engineer a Eurocylinder as the manual override instead of the triangular key. Well, customisation is what we do, so he’s going to be a very happy chap having found the perfect solution to his locking challenge.

We also entertained a visitor who needs a custom solenoid mechanism design for 360 locks. His requirement is broadly similar to a design from one of our competitors, but that design is standard and therefore inflexible. In contrast, we will produce a custom design for the professional overhead door lock system he’s developing. A very rewarding enquiry that’s right up our street.

Talking about rewarding, it’s good to receive some tangible feedback from our pre-show marketing campaign managed by Dorthe. Several of today’s visitors mentioned our emails and two individuals came specifically to our stand as a result of seeing the previews of the eight products we’re launching at the show. One is interested in the gleaming and glamorous Marine Bolt; the other in our small-but-beautifully-formed Cabinet Locks.

Check back tomorrow for our review of IFSEC 2014’s final day.

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IFSEC Day One – A Great Start & Royal Feedback

The first day of IFSEC at its new venue in London Docklands’ ExCel exhibition centre shaped up pretty well. The initial impression for those of us arriving was the enormity of the event. With all the exhibition halls taken by IFSEC and its related shows, you get a real perspective of the size, probably due to the halls being in one long row. It makes for some long aisles.

The smart, newly designed graphics panels for our stand looked great. They added some extra professionalism to our presence. Between them, the five panels allow us to display fifteen interactive products for visitors to play with. And many of them did!

We had a notable visit from a happy customer – the sales manager of TSUK. This is the organisation responsible for the installation of our first Floor Locks in the entrance way to the 19th Century Old College building at Edinburgh University. And he had some royal news…

The Duke of Edinburgh officially opened the refurbished building earlier this year. Well known and beloved for speaking his mind, the Duke complained about the amount of glass used for the entrance to the otherwise ancient edifice. He was told that the glass was there for security reasons, at which point he retorted: “Show me the security.” The Duke was then treated to a demonstration of the Floor Lock in action, and gave it his approval.

IFSEC 003In addition, our man from TSUK reports that the Floor Lock is used regularly, most recently to keep out some “odd characters” who appeared on campus during the Edinburgh Fringe festival.

Tim spoke to an Australian gentleman looking to source some of our new Cabinet Locks – ten thousand of them!

Rest assured that we’ll be following up this enquiry very closely after the show. There was also a nice chap from Lewisham whose objective is to use our shotbolts to put a stop to Pirate Radio. Puzzled? We were too until he explained that the shotbolts will allow him to secure access hatches to the roof of his building, thereby preventing people secretly installing aerials. You can’t make this stuff up!

Look out for our next IFSEC update blog tomorrow.

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Getting Superyacht Standards

We attended the Superyacht UK seminar at London’s Boatshow to get to grips with the standards and specs of this lively sector. It was a fine seminar in every respect, but standards appeared to be conspicuous by their absence.

It’s always a struggle to get to meet the designer or the customer’s representative of a superyacht to discuss specifications when we’re designing bespoke electromagnetic assemblies. On the few occasions we have made contact, there were no standards for lower-level items like locks. The industry hasn’t got round to dealing with them yet.

Now, on the one hand that seems like a surprising oversight; it certainly doesn’t help us in developing specifications to unify our designs across marine applications, which would save everybody money. On the other hand, it puts us in a great position to help drive new standards.

BMF logoAt the Superyacht UK seminar, attendees were encouraged to come forward with standards that would be appropriate for the industry. Music to our ears – we don’t need to be asked twice! Our expertise in marine applications is already extensive, and we’re more than happy to share it. There are many critical factors to consider when locks and holding devices are used at sea, including seal technologies, corrosion resistance, environment issues, usage of power, the formation of salt crystals in mechanisms, etc.

We’ve dealt with all this many times over. So now we’re looking forward to contributing to the definition of standards and specifications – for the benefit or all.

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Coming Alongside the Superyacht Community

Superyacht UK logoOver the years, we’ve designed, developed and manufactured many unique assemblies for use in the marine industry, including electric locking mechanisms for hydraulically operated platforms, electric releases for engine room fire dampers and boxed electromagnets for internal fire doors. Others are security applications deployed on various craft and vessels. That’s why Magnet Schultz Ltd is a member of the British Marine Federation and two associations within it: Superyacht UK and Commercial Marine.

But perhaps our most intriguing designs are highly secure electric locks that are key components in anti-piracy lockdown systems for Superyachts. These are technically demanding modules and we supply them to leading Superyacht brands. We’re working on two new designs right now.

As we all know, piracy is prevalent in certain regions of the world, particularly the waters around the Middle East where many of these magnificent craft end up. The idea is that the entire Superyacht can be rapidly secured against invaders boarding the vessel. Just hit the emergency button on the bridge and all external doors, hatches and access points are immediately locked thanks to our electromagnetic units. It’s a nasty situation but at least the crew is secure inside the vessel.

We recently attended the first Superyacht UK seminar held at London’s ExCel centre alongside the London Boatshow. We wanted to get up to date with the new and revised standards being introduced, which turned out to be more of a challenge than we imagined. Seems the industry is not as standards-led as you might expect. More on that in my next blog.

superyacht Also on the agenda was networking with the good people in the industry and to learn more about the sector – how it fits together, who decides what, how to spec, where to source, and so on. On that level, the seminar was top notch. A learned panel explained how a superyacht is built. The panel included an Owner’s Representative, a Designer, a Flag & Class specialist, a Lawyer and the Technical Manager from the Princess Yachts boat yard. Couldn’t have been more helpful!

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More Space for More Business

Memmingen Extension

There are many measures of business growth but few more obvious than the acquisition of new premises in order to expand operations. That’s what is happening at Magnet Schultz – and not just in our UK operation.

At Capital Park – our UK home for Magnet Schultz Ltd in Old Woking – we have recently taken over the adjacent industrial unit (Unit 2), had it refitted, and moved some of our team across the car park to make use of the new area – and free up some much-needed space in our existing premises. The latter is already being absorbed by the engineering design, marketing and purchasing departments.

This annex has given us another 2,500 square feet (250m2), split between workshop space on the ground floor and new office facilities on the first. It represents a floorspace increase of about 45% and we’re already feeling the efficiency improvement. The ground floor in Unit 2 houses our Electro Kabuki production line and bulk packaging storage; upstairs is now the sales and accounts operations. Units 3 & 4 are now the sole preserve of our solenoids and mechanisms operation.

Our German parent company, MSM (Magnet Schultz Memmingen) has also taken on new premises to facilitate expansion – but on a much larger scale. In fact, MSM is building another new hall – the third of three built in recent years (see photo).

MSM’s original premises are all in the town of Memmingen. The company then acquired land next to Memmingerberg Civil Airport and built two new halls. Now a third hall of 12,000m2 is being built on the Memmingerberg site. In total, the surface area of the three halls at Memmingerberg equal the ten halls on the original site. MSM will move in to the new hall in Spring 2014.

So, it’s expansion all round for Magnet Schultz as we continue to grow the business here and across Europe.

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A Departure from Our Usual Business.

I’d like to be able to tell you much more, and I will do in the very near future, about a new contract that we were awarded here at Magnet Schultz Ltd back in April. We’re close to finishing the project and have already delivered most of the product we manufactured.

What’s different about this work is that it has nothing to do with our celebrated solenoid and electromagnetic development expertise. Instead, our selection by our friends at Kingston-based product design agency Hothouse was all to do with our prototyping skills and medium-volume manufacturing capability. That’s pretty rewarding.

The project involves a collaborative venture between one of the major cellular airtime providers and a key element of the transport infrastructure in London. I can’t tell you any more as it would give the game away and, as is the way with these things, we need to secure approvals before we can give more detail – or mention names.

Suffice to say that the project offers a real and tangible benefit to mobile phone users travelling around our capital city. Our part in this has been to ramp up production fast and organise our engineering capacity to deliver the product within the short timescales and stringent reliability specs required. Nothing new for us there, but it’s good to get customer recognition for our “sound organisational and electromechanical engineering skills”. The result was the timely manufacture of a total of 1,000 units in all.

For us here at Magnet Schultz Ltd, this piece of business indicates the breadth of our engineering skill set. We’re looking forward to the conclusion of the project and the installation of the product we manufactured. Then we’ll tell you all about it – so check this blog from time to time.

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