Stour Precision Tools

Inside Stour

Stour Precision Tools Limited offers bespoke engineering solutions and a complete package of project managed services to its customers. These range from small tooling solutions to complete automated production lines and equipment.

Employing 20 staff and with a £1.8 million turnover, Stour Precision Tools was founded in 1966 and initially serviced the press tool industry in the Birmingham area. The business is still owned by the same family but has diversified into several complementary market areas across the UK. Offering state-of-the-art 3D CAD design and Computer Aided Manufacture, the business based in Droitwich, Worcestershire, now provides bespoke tooling and work-holding solutions to a variety of ‘blue-chip’ customer across market sectors such as Automotive, Off Highway Vehicles, White Goods and Food Processing.

Specific services cover work holding fixtures for manual and robotic welding, build fixtures and manipulators, as well as machining & fabrication services and CAD design & engineering services.

Having an enviable reputation for manufacturing quality and innovative design, Stour has maintained these core principles whilst expanding its skilled workforce, facilities and equipment in recent years. Its services have been engineered to meet customers’ needs alongside stringent manufacturing quality and international safety standards.

As part of Stour’s growth business development plan, it identified a requirement to increase the size of its in-house manufacturing capacity due to the increased demand for turnkey fixture work holing and jig/tool solutions for its existing customer base, as well as new markets and customers.

In late 2021, Stour opted to buy a Soraluce FS8000 travelling column milling machine. With a working envelope of 8 metres in X, 3.2 metres in Y and 1.6 meters in Z, the machine is virtually three times the size of any others at Stour, and dramatically increased volumes. The Soraluce saves Stour over £200,000 per year – the amount it spent in outsourcing costs – as well as allowing new products to be offered, such as its modular positioner system. Estimated additional sales are £196,000 in year 1, £376,000 year 2 and £572,000 in year 3.

The machine was purchased through a Dutch reseller/agent from a German company and required payment upfront. Stour funded the initial purchase of the machine and Compass assisted initially with a Funding Circle Loan at the start of the final decommissioning, storage, transportation, and installation phase of the transaction. Compass then arranged a sale & hire purchase back to reimburse Stour for £505,569.63 after the machine was installed and commissioned. The transaction took over 6 months from quoting to final pay-out.

Clive Chaplin

“Compass was extremely responsive right from the start,” said Clive. “They quickly fully understood our situation, the dynamics of the machine being abroad, and that the seller did not want to even begin preparing the machine for transportation to England before receiving full payment, whereas other contacts I’d made weren’t fully understanding.

“Compass really stepped up to the plate and was the company that delivered. What really shone through was the extra level of service. It wasn’t the case that, ‘we’ve got your deal, we’re not bothering any more’. It was absolutely, ‘let’s deal with the grief as well as the easy stuff’.

“They dealt with many other things way and beyond what you might normally expect. For example, dealing with our landlord who needed to give permission for the foundation work for the machine to be installed; another was liaising with solicitors. This is fundamentally fantastic, particularly in stressful situations when it appeared no progress was being made.”

The new machine means no more of Stour’s work has to be outsourced. Just as important, it has provided the platform for Stour to develop its own bespoke inhouse modular positioning system.

“Having this machine allows us to create our own product range,” said Clive. “Traditionally we have just reacted to our clients as a servicing company. But now we can complement that with a standard positional system on which we can not only build our bespoke orders, but also have a standard machine for our own products. And we are confident our turnover will grow to £2million next year.”

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