HotSeat - John O'Brien, Managing Director of the Fibrax Group of Companies

Established in 1902, Fibrax has become a leading force in the global supply of rubber and plastic mouldings. John joined his family’s business in 1992 as a plastics and rubber specialist. In 2004, he was appointed managing director of the Fibrax Group, and has actively promoted growth and innovation across all areas of the company in both the UK and new global territories. John recently sat in the PlastikCity HotSeat to discuss latest trends, company growth, greatest challenges and hidden talents!

 

What trends do you think will shape the future of UK plastics? How will Fibrax respond?

In an effort to create an agile, responsive and efficient supply chain, manufacturers across all sectors are increasingly seeking to work with OEMs that can fulfil a range of needs. Inevitably, this is reducing the need for multiple suppliers and companies are having to innovate to keep up with this demand.

Fibrax originated as a rubber moulding company but in the 1990s we progressed into rigid plastics. Whilst we have been doing this for some time, we are now realising the great advantages of being able to overmould (2 shot) rubber and TPE/TPVs onto rigid substrates, as this significantly extends our production capabilities and enables us to support our customers in both automotive and non-automotive industries. We have seen this as a great way of adding value.

How has Fibrax developed during your tenure?

I assumed the role of Managing Director of Fibrax Limited in 2004 and at that time we were based solely in Wrexham, North Wales with a turnover of sub £6m. In just under 15 years, we have opened manufacturing facilities in Sanok, Poland and Casablanca, Morocco. Across these three sites, we now employ over 400 people with a turnover of £20m (2017).

What do you credit as the key to your success?

Our entire team is committed to meeting the needs of our global client base, often assisting them in the development of their products. By driving growth, we are able to invest in our people, technologies and facilities. This continued investment enables us to realise greater opportunities and respond efficiently to customer demands.

What has been the greatest challenge in your career?

Keeping calm when not all is going to plan!

What advice do you wish you’d had on entering the industry and does that differ from the advice you would give to an Apprentice joining now?

I embarked on a career in engineering through a simple desire to make things that work! Growing up, the example I was set was very much focused on getting on, so I was well supported to progress with my goal. I have always worked to find the right solution with the understanding that everything can be improved. I advise new design engineers that their first ideas might not always be the best; what they must do is work without limitations as only by pushing boundaries will they truly innovate.

What hidden talents do you have?

Professionally, visualising how we can make products in a different way has certainly helped my career.

Personally, some might say my talent lies in my ability to fall asleep anywhere, anytime!

 

Read the interview on PlastikMedia here

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Press Contact:
Kathryn Jenkinson | pr@fibrax.co.uk

Fibrax Successfully Transitions to IATF 16949:2016

Fibrax Limited has successfully transitioned to the new IATF 16949:2016 standard.

Published by the IATF and replacing TS 16949:2008, this new standard clearly defines the requirements of an effective quality management system for organisations operating within the automotive industry.

The Compliance Team at Fibrax has worked tirelessly to ensure all operational practices meet the stringent requirements of this new standard. Commenting on this transition, Neil Andrew, Fibrax’s Compliance Manager said:

“By successfully transitioning to IATF 16949:2016, we can demonstrate our ability to manufacture products of the highest quality for the automotive industry. We work closely with our customers to ensure our products and manufacturing processes meet relevant regulatory requirements. This approach not only ensures we comply with necessary standards but also that we consistently meet the needs of our customers. Our advanced manufacturing capabilities enable us to deliver high performance solutions in a responsive and efficient way.”

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Press Contact:
Kathryn Jenkinson | pr@fibrax.co.uk

Laser Technology Collaboration Enhances Fibrax's Tooling Capabilities

Fibrax Limited has extended the capabilities of its toolroom by collaborating with mobile laser welding specialists, Harrisons Laser Technology.

Harrisons recently worked onsite at Fibrax’s Wrexham injection moulding facility to make alterations to two existing multi-cavity mould tools that required changes to the cavity engraving. Obsolete characters were removed effectively by laser welding and replaced with new characters using laser engraving technology. Working accurately to within 0.025mm with zero mould distortion ensured the quality of the mould was not compromised.

Through this collaboration, Fibrax can speed up onsite repairs and reduce unnecessary downtime. Commenting on the productivity benefits of laser welding technology, Fibrax’s Technical Sales Director, Rob Winterbottom said:

“Laser welding and engraving offers many benefits to us and our customers, not least the fact that production lines can be reinstated quickly with significantly reduced downtime. From  a quality perspective, seams are slim and flat, and the surface is oxide-free. Dust is not a factor and the contact points on the mould are not impacted.”

He continued:

“Laser welding technology offers a vastly improved marking quality compared to traditional TAG laser systems and we are delighted to be working the Harrisons Laser Technology in this way to deliver an efficient and durable solution for our customers. Harrisons specialises in precision mobile laser welding services to the automotive industry, amongst others, making them a good partner for Fibrax.”

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Press Contact:
Kathryn Jenkinson | pr@fibrax.co.uk

Fibrax Backs Women V Cancer Cross-Channel Charity Ride

Manufacturing components for the automotive industry, including some of the UK’s most iconic vehicle brands, requires an unwavering ability to Wrexham cyclist, Linda Hampton-Jones joined the fight against cancer by riding from London to Paris in a Women V Cancer charity cycling challenge.

Fibrax has proudly sponsored Linda’s efforts and Ellis Blackman, Sales Manager for the Cycling Division, has provided technical support and advice throughout her training.

Linda took on this challenge in memory of her friend’s daughter, Hayley Jones, who sadly passed away at the young age of 36 years old having been diagnosed with cervical cancer.

This cycle ride was the ninth Women V Cancer challenge; the ladies cycled a total of 240 miles in just three days, ending at the Eiffel Tower! All monies raised will be used to support the work of Breast Cancer Care, Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust and Ovarian Cancer Action.

Linda had to raise an incredible £1,600 to take part in the challenge but, with the help of Fibrax and over 50 other supporters, she smashed her target by raising £3,475!

Commenting on the charity challenge, Linda said:

“This was a tough, rewarding, emotional and utterly enjoyable experience! My thanks go to Fibrax Limited and Ellis Blackman for the sponsorship and help in preparing my bike. Helping me through training, servicing my bike and offering general advice was invaluable. So many people have donated or supported me in one way or another and I am delighted to have completed such an epic challenge for a great cause!”

Linda is still accepting donations at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/lindaltp.

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Press Contact:
Kathryn Jenkinson | pr@fibrax.co.uk

Fibrax Promotes Precision Through 3D Technologies

Manufacturing components for the automotive industry, including some of the UK’s most iconic vehicle brands, requires an unwavering ability to consistently maintain the highest possible quality standards.

As one of the UK’s fastest-growing injection moulding companies, Fibrax understands the importance of supporting its customers to develop high performance components, from conception to completion.

Fibrax operates a highly skilled design division where a team of multi-lingual designers and engineers use the latest CAD and CAM software yet the key to the success of many projects delivered in 2018 was the installation of an Objet30 Prime 3D Printer from Stratasys.

This intelligent printer uses Polyjet technologies and complements the SLA and FDM printing technologies already installed at Fibrax’s 3D Print Suite. This technology works in a similar way to inkjet document printing but instead of jetting drops of ink onto paper, the print head jets microscopic layers of liquid photopolymer onto a build tray where it instantly cools under UV light.

The Objet30 Prime offers a range of rigid materials, including flexible, transparent, bio-compatible, high temperature resistant and simulated polypropylene. This considerably extends the scope of Fibrax’s prototyping capabilities and can also be used for short runs of technically-complex components.

Commenting on the company’s investment in 3D Technology, Glenn Griffiths, Technical Manager at Fibrax, said:

“Investing in the Objet30 Prime has contributed greatly to our ability to operate efficiently without compromise. Not only has it helped to speed up product design and development but it has reduced the need for conventional prototype tooling for customers, particularly in the automotive sector. Additionally, it has assisted the development of production cells in the form of jigs and fixtures. This means we are able to support the needs of our customers using incredibly cost effective and time efficient methods.”

At Fibrax, all research, design and development is backed by lean manufacturing facilities and stringent testing laboratories. As well as offering precision prototyping, Fibrax has set up its testing facilities to satisfy the exact needs of its customers. This commitment to quality is demonstrated in the company’s adherence to internationally recognised accreditations, including IATF 16949:2016 Automotive Quality Management, ISO9001:2015, ISO14001:2015 and a number of customer-specific standards.

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Press Contact:
Kathryn Jenkinson | pr@fibrax.co.uk

Fibrax Celebrates Double Six Sigma Success!

As two more members of its management team achieve the Lean Six Sigma Black Belt award, Fibrax Ltd, one of the UK’s leading rubber and plastic moulding manufacturers, is becoming a force to be reckoned with when comes to continually improving business performance.

Six Sigma is a methodology that sets out to improve the overall performance of a company by increasing operational efficiencies through the encouragement of effective internal collaboration and removal of unnecessary processes and behaviours. Material Technologist, Jonathan Coupe and Jamie Rimmer, Fibrax’s Kaizen Manager, have both successfully achieved the coveted black belt status.

Jonathan and Jamie were trained and mentored by Lance Nicholls of Zenith Lean Ltd. Commenting on the managers’ successes, Lance said:

“The project Jamie and Jonathan completed over 12 months was very comprehensive and contained so many Lean Six Sigma tools and techniques, I couldn’t keep up at times! A great example of ‘the students becoming the masters’ and the savings are incredible! Well done both.”

By achieving their Lean Six Sigma Black Belts, Jonathan and Jamie will play a significant role in the manufacturer’s growth strategy going forward. The depth of knowledge held by the team at Fibrax will deliver significant business benefits as the company continues to expand its global operations.

Robert Winterbottom, Fibrax’s Technical Sales Director, is optimistic about what these achievements mean for the individuals and the company has a whole. He said:

“Having a further two members of our management team holding Lean Six Sigma Black Belts contributes considerably to the company’s depth of knowledge and extensive capabilities. This achievement signals a bright future for both Jamie and Jonathan; we are exceptionally proud of the dedication they have shown over the last 12 months. In terms of the benefits for the company, increasing our skill set collectively strengthens our proposition and sets us apart as a forward thinking, dynamic organisation.”

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Press Contact:
Kathryn Jenkinson | pr@fibrax.co.uk

Fibrax MD John O'Brien Raises £2150 For Cancer Research

In special memory of close family members and to raise funds for Cancer Research UK, John O’Brien, Managing Director of the Fibrax Group of Companies, completed a challenging 35-mile walk in the hills of North Wales.

In special memory of close family members and to raise funds for Cancer Research UK, John O’Brien, Managing Director of the Fibrax Group of Companies, completed a challenging 35-mile walk in the hills of North Wales.

The Llangollen Round is a 35-mile circular route that takes in the picturesque views of the Vale of Llangollen whilst challenging participants to a gruelling 2,000 metre ascent! John and his friends completed the walk over two days, traversing heather moorland, limestone grassland, coniferous forests and open mountain tops.

Commenting on the challenge, John said:

“Cancer seems to be one of those things that affects us all at some stage. We completed the Llangollen Round in memory of much-loved family members who were very fond of this area. We were proud to support Cancer Research UK in this way.”

Cancer Research UK is the world’s leading charity dedicated to beating cancer through research. It is committed to fighting cancer by finding new ways to prevent, diagnose and treat it to save more lives.

To date, John has raised an impressive £2,150 for the charity. If you would like to support this fantastic cause, please visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/john-o-brien20.

Image L-R: Jonny Doerr, Lizzie Lamb, John O’Brien, Sarah O’Brien and Donna Glossop

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Press Contact:
Kathryn Jenkinson | pr@fibrax.co.uk

Fibrax Group Invests In Engel’s Victory To Increase UK Capacity

The global injection moulding manufacturing group, Fibrax, is continuing to invest substantially in its production capabilities to support its strategic growth strategy.

Part of the Fibrax Group of Companies, which operates in the UK, Poland and Morocco, Fibrax Limited has invested in two Engel Victory machines with tie-bar-less technology, to increase the company’s plastic moulding capacity at its facility in Wrexham, North Wales.

The modular Engel Victory is ideal for a wide range of technical plastic mouldings. With its tie-bar-less technology, the Victory provides more flexibility and greater efficiency than traditional injection moulding machines.

Fibrax operates a range of injection moulding machine sizes, including 30 to 560 tonnes for rubber and 50 to 450 tonnes for plastic, enabling the manufacturer to meet an extensive variety of needs. The company also specialises in precision overmoulding of multi-part components and offers a multi-component assembly services for sub-assemblies and completed products.

Commenting on the decision to invest in two Engel Victory machines, Rob Winterbottom, Fibrax’s Technical Sales Director, said:

“Engel is well known for creating machinery of the highest quality, developed using the latest technologies. Their integrated systems have been designed to drive efficiencies without restricting mould functions or performance. By investing in the 50 and 120 tonne Engel Victory machines, we are able to extend our UK manufacturing capabilities, whilst harnessing greater control of smaller shot weight tools. The tie-bar-less technology complements our continual improvement strategy, as we are able to drive greater efficiencies in the future.“

This investment is part of the company’s sustainable growth strategy. 2018 will see the installation of a range advanced technical equipment aimed at streamlining manufacturing processes, implementing efficiencies and optimising performance.

Fibrax recently announced the opening of its new manufacturing facility in Morocco, which will trade as Morocco Precision Mouldings and serve the global automotive supply chain.

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Press Contact:
Kathryn Jenkinson | pr@fibrax.co.uk

Fibrax Group Expands Global Operations

Fibrax Limited, one of the UK’s fastest-growing manufacturers of rubber, TPE and plastic components, has extended its global manufacturing capabilities by establishing an operational facility in Morocco.

The new manufacturing plant will trade as Morocco Precision Moulding and form part of the Fibrax Group of Companies, which also has established operational facilities in Wrexham, UK and Sanok, Poland. Specialising in the design, development and manufacture of high performance custom rubber mouldings and plastic components, Fibrax supports many of the most strictly regulated sectors worldwide. The demand for quality automotive components has significantly increased in North Africa and this investment will ensure the Fibrax Group is well placed to provide outstanding technical support and a responsive service delivery to companies operating in the region.

Fibrax has maintained an operational presence in Morocco since 2012 having worked collaboratively with a local supply chain partner. A recent surge in demand has enabled the company to invest in a fully controlled facility in the region with further rapid growth anticipated over the next five years. Morocco Precision Moulding will operate from a 3,250m² manufacturing plant, which currently employs 60 employees. The site has been strategically selected, as there is scope to extend the facility and employ a larger workforce.

Commenting on this expansion, Robert Winterbottom, Technical Sales Director, said:

“The opening of Morocco Precision Moulding as part of the Fibrax Group of Companies signifies a very exciting time in our history and an important milestone in our continued growth and development. We have been very keen to expand our global presence and this site will enable us to proactively support the needs of our customers operating in this region. Growth in Morocco’s automotive industry is set to continue and we look forward to playing an active role within its supply chain.”

Fibrax Limited currently employs over 330 employees across its three manufacturing facilities. As well as moulding thermoset and thermoplastic precision parts, the company designs and tests complex prototypes.

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Press Contact:
Kathryn Jenkinson | pr@fibrax.co.uk

 

 

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HotSeat - John O'Brien, Managing Director of the Fibrax Group of Companies

Established in 1902, Fibrax has become a leading force in the global supply of rubber and plastic mouldings. John joined his family’s business in 1992 as a plastics and rubber specialist. In 2004, he was appointed managing director of the Fibrax Group, and has actively promoted growth and innovation across all areas of the company in both the UK and new global territories. John recently sat in the PlastikCity HotSeat to discuss latest trends, company growth, greatest challenges and hidden talents!

 

What trends do you think will shape the future of UK plastics? How will Fibrax respond?

In an effort to create an agile, responsive and efficient supply chain, manufacturers across all sectors are increasingly seeking to work with OEMs that can fulfil a range of needs. Inevitably, this is reducing the need for multiple suppliers and companies are having to innovate to keep up with this demand.

Fibrax originated as a rubber moulding company but in the 1990s we progressed into rigid plastics. Whilst we have been doing this for some time, we are now realising the great advantages of being able to overmould (2 shot) rubber and TPE/TPVs onto rigid substrates, as this significantly extends our production capabilities and enables us to support our customers in both automotive and non-automotive industries. We have seen this as a great way of adding value.

How has Fibrax developed during your tenure?

I assumed the role of Managing Director of Fibrax Limited in 2004 and at that time we were based solely in Wrexham, North Wales with a turnover of sub £6m. In just under 15 years, we have opened manufacturing facilities in Sanok, Poland and Casablanca, Morocco. Across these three sites, we now employ over 400 people with a turnover of £20m (2017).

What do you credit as the key to your success?

Our entire team is committed to meeting the needs of our global client base, often assisting them in the development of their products. By driving growth, we are able to invest in our people, technologies and facilities. This continued investment enables us to realise greater opportunities and respond efficiently to customer demands.

What has been the greatest challenge in your career?

Keeping calm when not all is going to plan!

What advice do you wish you’d had on entering the industry and does that differ from the advice you would give to an Apprentice joining now?

I embarked on a career in engineering through a simple desire to make things that work! Growing up, the example I was set was very much focused on getting on, so I was well supported to progress with my goal. I have always worked to find the right solution with the understanding that everything can be improved. I advise new design engineers that their first ideas might not always be the best; what they must do is work without limitations as only by pushing boundaries will they truly innovate.

What hidden talents do you have?

Professionally, visualising how we can make products in a different way has certainly helped my career.

Personally, some might say my talent lies in my ability to fall asleep anywhere, anytime!

 

Read the interview on PlastikMedia here

_____________

Press Contact:
Kathryn Jenkinson | pr@fibrax.co.uk

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