An engineering company based in Leeds is helping to meet the ventilator manufacturing challenge to weather the pandemic storm.
Kirkstall Precision Engineering, established over 30 years ago, has been at the forefront of global precision engineering for the medical sector. It describes itself as a company “where surgical instruments come to life,” with a proven commitment to safety, reliability, functionality and adherence to rigorous regulatory requirements.
Many Kirkstall Precision’s products are used in elective surgical procedures. As a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, such operations were postponed around the world – and overnight the order book was cut by 50 per cent, according to operations director Iqbal Bahia. Until elective surgery recommences, customer demand for the company’s products and service is set to remain very limited.
After consulting with its key customers, Kirkstall Precision had to plan for a minimum period of up to six months with no elective surgery taking place in the UK and US. Which was going to put significant financial pressure on the business.
The company were invited onto the Innovate2Suceed programme funded by Innovate UK and began working with Innovation Management Advisor Glen Wainwright. The programme offers up to seven days of one-to-one, tailored support from a specialist adviser to overcome their barriers to growth. It forms part of Innovate UK’s wider support offer and is delivered by us, the Enterprise Europe Network.
Iqbal together with Glen completed the company Growth Mapper business diagnostic tool and had agreed to several business improvement actions. Glen explained
“In the face of such a rapid and severe change in the trading environment, Kirkstall Precision was ready to respond. The management team developed a three-point plan, a way to seek out other sources of revenue, work with local business support and develop a robust cashflow plan for the next three to 12 months.
“Thanks to Innovate UK this kind of support this widely available to businesses across the North I would encourage businesses to get in touch.”
The government’s call for help from the manufacturing sector led to the company supporting Rolls-Royce with the components to manufacture ventilators. Kirkstall Precision took the strategic decision to do this at cost – having worked with the medical sector for many years, here was an opportunity to give something back to this vital community.
It also allowed the company to maintain some production and employment; although there was no profit in manufacturing ventilator parts, it helped to keep the business ticking over.
The company maintained a small core team of employees to service its UK customers and this team would handle all urgent manufacturing orders.
Kirkstall Precision tapped into furlough which meant that the company reduced workforce to a size that would meet any urgent daily requirements plus the demand for ventilator component part production whilst still retaining the vital skills base of the company.
Glen added: “It’s encouraging to see Kirkstall Precision taking advantage of the business support programmes offered by Innovate2Suceed, their bank and the Government’s schemes to steer the business through this turbulent period and beyond.”
To find out whether your business could be eligible call the Enterprise Europe Network on 0300 123 3066.