Automation and Materials Handling

Perpetual motion

L.B. Foster Automation & Materials Handling is a long-standing supplier of high quality, high-performance conveyors and spare part components to Allevard Springs manufacturing facilities in South Wales.

As part of the Suspensions Components Division, Allevard Springs manufactures stabiliser bars, torsion bars, springs and coils for vehicle suspension.

Allevard Springs is part of the Suspensions Components Division of the Sogefi Group, a leading global supplier of original parts for the world’s automotive industry. Sogefi designs, develops and produces filtration systems and flexible suspension components, as well as air management and engine cooling systems. John Knight is Engineering Storeman at Allevard Springs. He is part of the team responsible for maintaining the ongoing operation of the production line. He says:

“We have a very positive relationship with L.B. Foster Automation & Materials Handling. It’s a relationship that I inherited when I joined three years ago and during my time with the business I have been very impressed with the high standard of customer service, technical expertise and engineering insight that L.B. Foster’s after sales team provides.”

John continues, “We designed and installed the original System 60 Overhead Conveyor system at Allevard Springs production plant in South Wales. The high-performance overhead conveyors transport the company’s automotive coils and springs through various treatment and process plants, prior to despatch for use by leading automotive brands.

John Knight explains: “L.B. Foster Automation & Materials Handling was an integral part of the original team that installed our overhead conveyor system. Having designed and installed the system they have an inherent knowledge and understanding of the intricacies of its workings. That’s why we rely on their experience and expertise to keep our systems up and running.

“L.B. Foster’s after sales team is now an essential supply chain partner to Allevard Springs. It is mission critical for our business that we keep the conveyors moving 24/7/365, dependent on customer demand.

“The nature of our automated production line means that the conveyors can really take a battering, particularly from shot blasting. The blasting process creates dust, which gets everywhere and adds to the general wear and tear on the conveyors.

“We regularly order replacement conveyor chains and bearings from L.B. Foster’s after sales team. It’s essential that these arrive prior to component failure. We place orders two or three times a year for chains in a variety of lengths to suit our needs. My experience is that what we order is what we receive, so I’m very happy with our partnership.”

Winston Churchill works in L.B. Foster Automation & Materials Handling’s Spares & Servicing team. It’s his job to make sure that customer orders are fulfilled accurately and despatched on time. He says: “Our role in Allevard Springs’ supply chain is absolutely critical; if we fail our customers fail and that can have a major financial impact all the way down the supply chain.

“We undertake regular inspections and surveys to assess the conveyor, checking for chain stretch and its overall condition. We make recommendations about work to be carried out to keep the conveyor in top working condition. On occasion, we have also attended site on an ‘emergency callout’ basis, to support Allevard Spring’s own engineers.

“Automotive brands often impose heavy penalties on suppliers that disrupt just-in-time manufacturing processes. The implications of conveyor downtime is therefore considerable for Allevard Springs. They rely on us to provide a perfect after sales service, and that’s what we aspire to deliver.”