Amdale: Open for business for 30 years!

30 years ago today, the dream of running a business became a reality – at 8 a.m. on 8th of August 1988, we opened the doors to Amdale for the very first time! Amidst all the preparations and planning we had been busy doing, we didn’t actually notice the pleasing synchronicity of the date we had chosen for this significant event until later – but now, 30 years on, it has become a great date for an anniversary!

Our first morning

Early in the morning of that momentous first day, the excitement of what we had achieved so far was just bursting out of us. Up bright and early, we picked up our first employee, Les, on the way to the factory, bought some tea and coffee and, with that, we were ready for business – and on that very first day, business we did!

Our first order

We had, of course, been wondering where our first order would come from. Luckily, though, we didn’t have to wonder for long – after a few phone calls 30 years ago today to some contacts who supported our venture, I was told by one of them to go to Havant station and collect our first order, £675 of textile jets! Grinning with excitement, I sped off to the station and picked up what turned out to be the first order for a customer that, I’m proud to say, we still work for today! I’d like to thank them, both Reg and Jenni, for the support and help they gave us at that time. Sadly Reg is no longer with us, but what an awesome man he was!

Our first invoice

So that was the first order, but just a few weeks later, on 23rd August, we had the excitement of our first invoice, for a company that produced precision hinges. I remember it well, not only because it was our first invoice and therefore momentous in itself, but also because the method of invoicing was a little unusual: upon collecting the job, the customer sat down and typed the invoice himself on the typewriter that my parents had bought for the company as a start-up present! In fact, that typewriter is actually still here at Amdale, as is the original Fanuc PG programming system that was used for our wire machines back then. Both are now in our reception area as a nostalgic reminder of our first years!

30 years of firsts

As we sat reminiscing in the office this morning, we found ourselves talking about some of the most significant achievements of the last 30 years: we took on our first apprentice in 1989 and said goodbye to our first retiree in 2004; we gained our first quality approval, BS 5750, in 1992 and our first aerospace approval, AS9100, in 2016; and our shop floor grew to include our first CNC milling machine in 1996, first CNC turning centre in 1998 and first 5-axis machining centre in 2004.

On a lighter note, I also found myself thinking of a personal first: in 1997 I turned up at work for the first time having shaved off the final stands of combed-over hair on my head, thus admitting to all the staff that having hair really was a thing of the past! To mark that historic occasion, all the staff lined up outside the factory to greet me upon my bald arrival!

A moment to reflect

Looking back over the last 30 years, there have been a lot of fun times, countless jobs that have come in as drawings and gone out as precision engineered parts, and many challenges along the way that have helped us get to where we are today. Looking to the future, there are yet more exciting challenges ahead, as well as more machines to purchase and, most importantly for me, new engineers to train to take this industry into the future!

By Martin Koerner

Happy 30th birthday, Amdale!

It’s 10 a.m. on Tuesday 29th May 2018 and I’m looking out my office window at the factory floor below. It’s a hive of activity. Many of our 22 highly skilled staff members are going about their work, turning complex drawings into highly precise components using the state-of-the-art machinery housed in our 9,000-square-foot factory. Watching them, I can’t help remembering where we were 30 years ago today.

29th May 1988 – Where it all began

30 years ago today, on 29th May 1988, we registered Amdale with Companies House. Just three weeks after I’d lost my previous job, it really was all a bit of a whirlwind! The day we officially registered our fledgling precision engineering company, we had no machines and no premises. We had no employees and no customers. We had no jobs to check and no quotes to approve. But we did have a company name (thanks, kids!), a vision and a dream.

What we wanted for Amdale

Our vision was to establish ourselves as a company that both customers and employees could rely on. That they could trust. A loyal company that puts its customer’s needs first and always delivers on its promises. We defined our core values as quality, reliability and customer care. That was our vision then, as it remains our vision today. As for our dream? Well, that was simple. We just wanted to make Amdale a success.

And, I’m happy to say, we did.

Watching one of our quality inspectors measuring an underwater cable clamp on a CNC co-ordinate measuring machine, I find myself reminiscing. I start thinking about everything we’ve done over the years not only to be successful, but to remain so. I realise there hasn’t been one big thing we’ve done right, but actually a handful of smaller things. Together they are the reason why, after 30 years, we’re still here!

1. We’ve expanded our range of machines and services

This time 30 years ago, we had no factory. Not a square foot to our names. Today we have 9,000 of them – and we need each and every one! Having bought a single wire machine in 1988, today we have 14 machines all told. That includes three wire machines, seven 5-Axis machining centres – three with full automation – and two CNC turning centres. We’ve also steadily expanded our services. Today, as well as wire erosion, we offer CNC milling, CNC turning and 5-Axis machining. This has enabled us to offer our existing customers a broader range of services. It has also brought us new opportunities: having 5-Axis machines and an automated 20-pallet loader recently helped secure us work supplying hybrid supercar parts. An exciting new project for Amdale!

2. We’ve invested in our staff

Today the Amdale team consists of 22 people – and each and every one of them is crucial. Seven of those team members started out as apprentices here and were trained up in-house. Having trained 20 apprentices over the years, I’m a real believer in this approach. It’s a fantastic way to help individuals to begin their professional development. It also allows us to give back to the industry. By training a new generation of engineers, we can help ensure that engineering remains a vibrant and valuable sector within our economy. And for us it means we can tailor our apprentices’ training to our needs. This results in highly specialised staff members, many of whom remain at Amdale on completion of their apprenticeship. Some of our team have been with us for over twenty-three years, something I am particularly proud of.

3. We’ve grown and cared for our customer base

Having started out with not a single customer, today we regularly work for 65 of them. Whilst we constantly try to win new customers, we also maintain relationships with the long-term ones. And it seems we’re doing something right: we have numerous customers that we’ve worked with for over 25 years. We even have one customer who’s been there since the very beginning! We wouldn’t be where we are today if it weren’t for our loyal customer base.

4. We’re willing to problem-solve and adapt

As well as being (I’d like to think!) amicable people to do business with, I believe there’s another reason why customers like working with us. It’s because Amdale goes the extra mile. We don’t give up. If someone comes to us with a problem, we relish the challenge of solving it. Our willingness to problem-solve and adapt means we think creatively and craft customized solutions for our customers. It also helps to keep us on our toes!

5. We’ve expanded into new sectors

Having started out working only in textiles and press tooling, over time we have branched out. Today we work in the motorsport, aerospace, medical, marine, oil and gas, and automotive sectors. This has definitely played a role in the increase in sales orders that we have seen over the years, which is great. But what we get even more of a buzz from is knowing that our components are being used across such a broad range of sectors. Amdale components have been used in everything from aircraft seats to Formula 1 cars, operating theatres to yachts in the America’s Cup. That’s pretty special.

So where do we go from here?

30 years ago today, we were excited, and extremely nervous, about what we had just begun. We didn’t know where the first job would come from. Nor did we know whether we’d get enough work to survive one year, let alone 30. Today we’re less nervous but just as excited about what’s next. Having achieved our AS9100 accreditation, our long-term plan is to expand further into the aerospace, defence and space sectors. Our short-term plan is to celebrate Amdale’s birthday in style. After all, it’s not every day your company turns 30, is it?!

By Martin Koerner

A proud day for Portsmouth

We are pleased to be a long term part of the Portsmouth engineering community and are proud to welcome HMS Queen Elizabeth ,the newest and largest ship in the Royal Navy, to our city.
We are looking forward to supporting her as she joins the fleet over the next few decades.

Amdale’s first major Aerospace project proves an exciting challenge

We were excited to announce today that our long hard road for AS/EN9100 has paid off. The Amdale team were excited to win a major contract from a world leading provider in the Aerospace industry.

The complex CNC machining project required the ever-tricky combination of high-quality work and a quick turnaround. Thankfully the Amdale team were more than up to the task; it took the team just two weeks from the confirmation of the contract to the first batch being delivered. That includes drawing, production, quality assurance and delivery.

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The manufacturing of these intricate pieces, some of which measured at over 800mm long tested our seven state of the art 5-Axis machines to their maximum capacity.

The justifiably tight control of process and material characteristics demanded by the aerospace industry ensured that speed was not the only priority in this project but also quality and conformity. The consistency of the machines and minimal margin of error was essential for ensuring the quality of the delivered product while keeping costs low for the customer.

This quick turnaround was an exciting challenge to the Amdale team, and we were delighted to fulfil this contract and look forward to working with similar Defence and Aerospace companies in the future. If you would like to speak to someone in the Amdale team to find out how we can meet your requirements let us know by contacting us

Exciting new projects at Amdale

The busy Formula One season draws to a close for us; we are now spending our Sundays watching all the parts we have made during this winter spinning around the circuits of the world with great pride and pleasure.

The rest of the company have been busy too, one particular project of note has been supplying a collection of large 5 axis CNC machined parts for a test rig for composite structures. These were both CNC 5- Axis Milled and CNC turned. These parts were all produced from CAD Data, at no point were designs formally drawn up, massively reducing the time spent on each project, lowering the cost and turnaround time for both us and our customers.

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Some of these parts weighed more than the guys machining them, but even with this extreme weight, we were able to finish the product with a fine tolerance, quality surface finish to the same exacting standard as any other project that passes through the doors here in Portsmouth.

At the other end of the scale, manufacture of bearing blocks in high end, oil loaded plastic remains something our team keep working on.     This Ertalyte – TX material is a pleasure to machine and proved to have a consistently excellent surface finish while holding tight tolerances, including threaded sections. These parts were dimensionally matched to fine tolerance Aluminium parts, often complex shaped, elements of the same system. Customer was delighted and the timescales achieved amazed us all.

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We aim to keep the blog updated with all of our activities and it is a great place to find a solution to your Wire eroding, CNC turning and milling projects. Make sure you check back regularly to keep up to date with one of the South’s premier machining companies.

If you would like more information on any of the projects described in this article or anywhere else on the blog, or would like to discuss your requirements, drop us an email on sales@amdale.co.uk and we would love to hear from you.