This project opens up a whole new market for Signal Plastics, based in Washington, which has expanded rapidly and diversified since it was founded just six years ago.
The opportunity was presented to Signal as a result of the North East Automotive Alliance inviting Signal to Subcon 2018 - a major event for the manufacturing supply chain. The trade event led to a contract with an international company which has developed world-leading heating products in both domestic and commercial central heating.
Julian Jamieson, operations director and co-founder of Signal Plastics, said: “Working on this contract from concept through to volume production has been a great achievement for us at Signal and our colleagues at Omega Plastics.
“Together we were able to advise on best design for manufacture methods for the injection mould tooling, which were manufactured in the UK at Omega facilities, support the supply chain to procure the bought-in items which are assembled on to the valve and develop a balanced assembly line whilst meeting all the necessary quality assurance checks.
“Our core business is the automotive market and we have a robust game-plan in place for growth - our mindset is based on being a Tier 2 supplier with a Tier 1 mentality.
“The tools and techniques embedded in Signal allowed us to successfully tender for this major contract with a non-automotive customer. This ironically has the added bonus of reducing risk to the business due to any volatility in the automotive sector.”
It’s another success story for a company which has proved itself as versatile as the material it produces - constantly evolving, and flexing itself through a problem solving, can-do culture, within the entire team, supported by the continual investment in people, processes and equipment.
Signal’s primary market has been in the automotive sector - it manufactures plastic components for companies such as Nissan, JLR and Honda as a supplier into the OEMs Tier 1 supply base. It also produces high-tech components for the oil and gas industry.
It is quite a journey for a company which was only set up in 2012 and was initially housed in an 11,000 sq.ft. unit in Tilley Road Washington. In 2015, it merged with Omega Plastics and continued to grow, trebling sales to £3m last year. The continued investment has resulted in relocation of Signal Plastics to a 43,000 sq ft unit in Bentall Business Park in 2017 creating more than 15 jobs in the process.
This relocation was supported by MAKE it Sunderland, Sunderland City Council’s business investment team, who remain committed to providing advice and support in the future whenever required.
Sunderland City Council leader Cllr Graeme Miller said: “Signal Plastics is a real success story for Sunderland to be proud of.
“They’ve rapidly emerged in a competitive industry and carved out a place for themselves, growing and expanding with impressive speed. Like many of the most ambitious companies, they continue to be proactive in seeking out new markets.
“Despite past successes they are not resting on their laurels and we watch their progress with admiration and a degree of pride. It’s great to see a Sunderland-based company going out to find and develop new markets.”
And Signal’s expansion is good news for Sunderland, which has ambitious plans to grow and diversify its manufacturing base. It’s a vision that is being realised through the development of the International Advanced Manufacturing Park (IAMP), something Sunderland City Council is delivering in partnership with South Tyneside Council and Henry Boot Developments, and it expects to attract a range of advanced manufacturing businesses spanning aerospace, rail, automotive, automation and offshore among others.
All of this adds to a £1.5bn public-private sector investment programme, that is transforming Sunderland’s landscape and economy.
Paul Butler, CEO of the North East Automotive Alliance said: “I am delighted to hear of Signal’s new award and even more pleased to hear it was as a result of working with the NEAA.
“As the automotive cluster in the North East we exist to support our members with the necessary connections to build their client base and ultimately win more work for the region. Part of this is taking members to national and international events, as well as hosting our own automotive Expo locally – these give companies a platform to showcase their products and services and network with industry.”