Plastics Industry Awards 2017

The Plastics Industry Awards 2017 took place on the 27 October 2017 at the London Hilton on Park Lane.

2017 Winners

Consumer Product Design of the Year 

Omlet – Eglu Cube

To produce this innovative chicken coop, various options were weighed. Injection moulding tooling costs were too high; rotational moulding was ruled out due to the difficulty of producing mouldings of sufficient dimensional accuracy from multiple tools. Blow moulding offered both highly accurate mouldings – there were 10 separate parts – and vastly improved speed of production compared to rotational moulding from a single set of tools. Over 20 prototypes were produced. It took just 8 months to get from project start to first off  tools, delivering on the company’s requirement to have the new model in time for the new chicken season. The product launched in the US, Europe and Australia all on the same day, and sales have broken all records.

The judges praised the practical, contemporary design of the coop, which is easy to clean, lightweight, strong and well-insulated. As a complete rethink of the traditional wooden chicken coop, the Eglu perfectly answers the needs of modern-day poultry keepers while creating a secure, predator-proof and comfortable place for the chickens to roost.

Industrial Product Design of the Year 

Gripple – UniGrip

From leading manufacturer of wire rope suspension systems for building services in the construction industry Gripple comes the UniGrip, a product designed for suspending mechanical and electrical services and a direct replacement for two existing Gripple products – Trapeze and Trapeze Plus. The UniGrip offers improved load ratings, easier release, improved locking function and is suitable for a broader range of applications. The design reduces the number of components to simplify manufacturing and remove cost; and has allowed new patented technology to be gained.

The judges were particularly impressed by the degree of part consolidation achieved with the new product, which has resulted in a clean and efficient design and superior performance. 

Best Recycled Plastic Product of the Year 

Recycling Technologies – Plaxx

Plaxx is the first hydrocarbon feedstock derived from residual waste plastic via a continuous process that can be based at a waste operators site. Chemical recycling through thermal cracking provides a means to achieve full decontamination, and therefore unrestricted re-use. The output distillation can be tailored to meet local needs (Naphtha, Oils, Base oil, Waxes). Closing the circle, Plaxx also allows conversion back to plastic.

The judges called it an innovative development that offers a real opportunity for boosting recycling rates, as well as giving momentum to the Circular Economy. Plaxx truly closes the loop.

Young Designer of the Year 

Luca Frondella - Motus Personal Air Cooler

Luca Frondella recently graduated from Coventry University, Faculty of Arts and Humanities. As his final major project, he designed the Motus Personal Air Cooler. The Motus is a domestic personal air cooler that is more effective at cooling than traditional fans. Aiming to bridge the gap between expensive and power consuming air conditioners and conventional fans, Motus also addresses many usability issues highlighted in existing products such as weight distribution and stability. Luca Fondella’s submission was described as a product that fills a need, and a successful mix of contemporary sleekness and technology combined with functionality and ease of use. A project that has been well thought out and executed with attention to detail and style.

Supplier Partnership - Materials

Matrix Plastics – Biocote

BioCote eliminates microbes that contaminate surfaces by interfering with microbial DNA and causing protein oxidative and cell membrane damage. BioCote and Matrix Plastics first collaborated on the development of an antimicrobial masterbatch for food, pharmaceutical and hospital environments. They have since partnered on formulations to control the spread of pathogenic bacteria, including Campylobacter, which often contaminates chicken transportation crates. BioCote has worked closely with Matrix Plastics to reduce contamination risks at processing facilities, especially when infected poultry comes into contact with plastic surfaces or handling systems. The result: highly specialised masterbatch products which are now widely used in the global plastics industry to reduce surface-to-surface contamination rates.

The judges said: “An excellent entry which demonstrates a really good partnership between Matrix and Biocote. They have gone the extra mile to achieve a good end result in both service and production of an antimicrobial masterbatch which will assist the economy in the long term. Total customer commitment!”

Supplier Partnership - Prime Machinery

Engel UK – CCP Gransden

Recognising opportunities for high volume composite components for lightweighting purposes, CCP Gransden Advanced Composites sought to develop processes for overmoulding composites such as PEEK, PPs and PEI that, in terms of heat resistance and flame retardancy, would open up a whole new range of markets in the automotive and aerospace industry. In close cooperation with Engel, the company put together a manufacturing cell comprising a vertical large-scale Engel v-duo machine able to achieve the extremely precise results necessary for a manufacturing cell of this nature. Its space saving design fits easily into CCP Gransden’s existing manufacturing plant; its versatile clamping unit allows maximum accessibility and operational safety. All the previous issues connected with overmoulding such high temperature materials were resolved. 

The PIA judges described the entry as: “A terrific and demanding project ...cutting edge technology. A very good project and collaboration with plenty of innovation.”

Supplier Partnership - Ancillary Machinery

Summit Systems - Polymer Training & Innovation Centre

With the support of Summit Systems, Polymer Training & Innovation Centre installed a modern fully centralised loading and drying station consisting of 6 material bins and a 6x4 manifold table produced by Summit Systems’ fabrications department. Summit Systems also installed a range of VISMEC equipment, including a pump filter, two dryers, a control server and a state of the art supervisory system. Precise planning and collaboration between Summit and Polymer Training allowed the installation to be planned around student training schedules.

“The partnership with PITC has provided benefits to both businesses. Summit have demonstrated their support to PITC by their long-term commitment to supply equipment on loan and free of charge,” commented the judges. “This project has taken the relationship to a new level…..This show piece installation is a credit to Summit in supporting the industry training needs. Terrific project ...of great value to PTIC and the industry in general.”

Supplier Partnership - Toolmaker

Adreco Plastics – Mologic

Mologic, a producer of diagnostic kits for home use, decided in 2016, to outsource work to a single third party, preferably local; a party who could develop and manufacture the required tooling, mould and assemble the plastic kits. Mologic chose Adreco, with whom they had previously also worked. The two companies have now signed a long-term partnership agreement, and have even agreed to jointly fund the building of a bespoke clean assembly room at Adreco’s facility. This will allow Mologic’s test kits to be assembled in an appropriate environment as soon as the plastic mouldings are manufactured. It will also free up Mologic’s cleanroom to manufacture a wider diversity of test strip components for incorporation into the devices.

The PIA judges said that this winning entry stood out for its level of commitment to the customer, and that this depth of partnership was “extremely impressive."

Apprentice or Trainee of the Year 

Shannon Martin - Rosti Automotive Larkhall

20-year old Shannon Martin is currently completing an HNC in Mechanical Engineering (4th year) at Langside College Glasgow. After leaving school, Shannon joined the company in 2014 as a polymer process technician. She is on course to complete a Scottish Modern Apprenticeship Programme. Her objective is to complete the full apprenticeship, and to take on a full-time role within the Rosti organisation. 

Shannon is described as a “very talented and highly motivated individual” and a “model employee." She impressed the judges by demonstrating a level of motivation and discipline mature far beyond her years by taking responsibility for an extremely business critical project in her first year, stepping in for a technician.

Best Technology Application of the Year 

CCP Gransden

CCP Gransden has developed a one-stage composite overmoulding technology, which allows thermoplastics such as nylons, 

PEI, PPS and PEEK to be directly injection moulded onto the surface of an advanced thermoplastic carbon fibre composite laminate. The laminate is heated in an infrared oven, then transferred to the press tool using a high speed 6 axis robot. When the press closes, the injection moulding unit injects the thermoplastic. The technology eliminates the need for fasteners, thus saving weight, leading to gains in fuel efficiency, lower CO2 emissions, fewer parts and hence less assembly time, and lower labour costs.

According to the PIA judges: “The submission outlines a known technique for over-moulding or back-moulding a thermoplastic composite with a thermoplastic resin. The innovative contribution is the ability to process the integration of the composite in the one mould ensuring the integration of the polymer interfaces. The result is a cost effective light weight structural alternative to metal and with added functionality (fixings).”

Best Energy or Environmental Programme of the Year 

Rosti Automotive Larkhall

Rosti Automotive Larkhall has implemented environmental and energy effi  ciency programmes based on its corporate and social responsibility programme. The benefits are ultimately geared towards minimising waste generated by its processes. The company is committed to reducing its carbon footprint by decreasing its gas and electricity consumption through the implementation of more energy efficient heating and cooling systems, and LED lighting. The company also undertook to replace all existing machines or new machines with energy efficient drive technology. The result includes a reduction of the long term operating costs; reduced exposure to legislative costs associated with current and future carbon and energy legislation; reduced risk of increasing energy prices and future energy market volatility; and better environmental credentials.

The judges commended the systematic approach adopted by the company over a number of years that has yielded “excellent energy savings” in several areas. The benefits are ultimately geared towards minimising waste generated by the company’s processes.

Best Business Initiative of the Year 

Trend Technologies Mullingar

In its 2020 Vision, Trend Technologies defined 3 pillars for success, i.e., developing showcase facilities, innovative technologies and developing critical competences. 

To that end, in 2016/2017 the company invested €3m to upgrade its facilities and equipment and investments were also made in technology upgrades. The Plastic Industry Expertise Development Programme was established to develop and grow skills, expertise and growth, including the ‘future plastics leaders initiative’ and initiatives to partner with industry bodies and education stakeholders to develop a pipeline of future employees. These eff orts are paying off : employment has increased 15%, and sales are forecast to grow 22% in 2017. 

According to the PIA judges, this “worthy winner’s impressive journey makes them a model for other companies to emulate." 

Best Training and Development Programme of the Year

Advanced Plastics

In 2013, Advanced Plastics decided all staff should receive an average of four hours training per month. It then established a structured technical apprenticeship scheme, in which apprentices gain basic engineering skills from an accredited training provider, before undergoing training on-site on a 3-month rotation basis in six core disciplines. The remainder of the four-year apprenticeship is spent on specialisation, followed by a transition year before undertaking a skilled role. The apprentices also attend technical college to gain a formal engineering qualifi cation.

The PIA judges said: “Manufacturing today faces a severe shortage of skilled staff. Recognising this, the winner has invested heavily in upgrading the workforce, developing a culture of continuous improvement.” 

Unsung Hero

Erwin Miller – Motan Colortronic

Born in November 1944 in Lodz in Poland to a German family, Erwin moved to the UK in 1956 at the age of 12. In 1974, operating from home, he founded Colortronic UK Ltd. He grew the company, adding new products over the years, and pioneering the overseas training of people at the suppliers’ plants to provide the best possible support for the products in the market. Honest and hardworking, Erwin Miller’s contribution to the UK plastics industry has been invaluable, for which he truly deserves wider recognition.

The PIA judges said Erwin Miller stood out because of his remarkable contribution to the development of the technical expertise available in the UK in the area of machinery and ancillary equipment for the plastics industry. They wrote: “His impact has been felt first within his own company, but has extended far beyond there. He can look back on having contributed to making the UK plastics industry the strongly performing highly technological success it has become. A thoroughly deserved recognition for this achievement.”

Ambassador of the Plastics Industry  

Nigel Baker

Nigel Baker, the recipient of the 2017 Ambassador of the Plastics Industry Award, cut his teeth in the service department of an injection moulding company in the early nineteen-eighties. He later moved to Switzerland for training, as well as spending spent a good deal of time in the Far East. 

Nigel’s passion for the industry and his understanding of customer needs is exceptional.  Colleagues describe him as a tireless and diligent worker for whom customers always come first. In his role as managing director of Netstal UK, he navigated the business through some challenging and changing times, where the business in the UK was eventually merged with Krauss Maffei UK in 2013. His tenacity and drive continued as he embraced new opportunities at BMB, significantly increasing both their presence and share of the UK market with his unique set of skills and determination.

Alongside his role at BMB machinery he is a director of Plastech Solutions, representing well-known suppliers to the industry. Nigel’s commitment to the industry over nearly forty years has been significant. He has supported many plastics industry organisations, events, suppliers, manufacturers and individuals. He has attended every Plastics Awards event since inception. 

He is, say the people around him, a family man, but, at the same time, has grown to become one of the most recognised names and faces in the industry thanks to a well-nigh boundless enthusiasm and dedication to his customers and his products. Plastics News Europe is proud to recognise his contribution to the plastics industry with the presentation of this award. 

Processor of the Year 

Plastek UK

For plastic packaging specialist Plastek Group, exceeding customers’ expectations is built on the belief that the benefi ts of high quality managed processes deliver consistent outstanding performance. State of the art facilities off er precision manufacturing round the clock. Continued investment in plant and equipment, implementation of lean manufacturing principles to minimise unplanned or excessive downtime, ensuring consistent high quality and efficient production processes plus investments in energy efficiency and machine and process performance make Plastek an organisation with both the expertise and capacity to deliver creative solutions every time.

“Overall the company performed impressively,” wrote the PIA judges. “They truly are state-of-the-art in the packaging and personal care sector. Congratulations to Mick Shaw and his Plastek UK team, and to Joseph Prischak, the legendary patriarch of this family-owned custom moulder.”