Spring manufacture expands at William Hughes’ factory in Bulgaria
Published: 8 July 2013 - Rachael Morling
Since it was opened in 2004, William Hughes’ production facility in Bulgaria has expanded four-fold. Located near Plovdiv, the 4320 square metre, custom-built factory now employs 131 people and its scope and product capability continues to grow as new machinery and processes are added.
William Hughes specialises in the manufacture of springs and bent wire assemblies. Production is split between its UK headquarters in Stalbridge, Dorset and Bulgaria. Torsion springs are a particular area of expertise in Plovdiv and there is additionally a strong local demand for this type of spring.
William Hughes is also an approved supplier for Johnson Controls and a major new contract for Turkey involving parts for a popular minibus, has accounted for a 20% increase in turnover. Other supplier customers include Fehrer, Lear and CTS, with most parts destined for the automotive market, in particular vehicle seating.
As demand has grown, new machinery and processes have been installed in Bulgaria to help support the UK manufacturing facility. For example, last year, four new wire forming machines were installed bringing the total in Bulgaria to 29. Robot welding capacity has been increased two-fold with 6 robots being fully utilised.
The company has also added two vertical injection moulding machines with a capacity of 120 and 250 tonnes. Traditionally, William Hughes has made clipped car seat mats but these new machines allow the seat mats to be over-moulded, dispensing with the need for clips altogether and providing an assembly that is both strong and fast to manufacture.
New finishing processes have also been installed at the factory enabling wire parts to be coated with Delta Tone and Delta Seal for corrosion protection.
Max Hughes, managing director of William Hughes said: “Establishing our first overseas production facility was an exciting experience. We have seen a growing demand for our products from the developing local markets in Romania, Serbia and Turkey as well as the traditional markets in the UK, Poland, France and Germany. We are delighted with the continuing success of the project. With our reinvestment programme, we look forward to the continuing growth of our facilities to the benefit of both the local economy and our overall UK capability”.