Featured Article 24 Jun 2020

The Conductix-Wampfler factory on the outskirts of the town has been producing a range of small but essential components for a variety of sectors since 1974. These components include rubber buffers to cushion impacts from everything from sliding doors to trains, and a vast array of steel and plastic parts used in the transmission of energy or data in a wide range of industrial applications. These components are integral parts of the industrial mobility solutions in place on cranes, ports, theme park rides, trams, mining, transit and people-movers, as well as lighting and audio systems in entertainment venues around the world. These small, precision-made components are manufactured in Baltinglass mainly for supply to the company’s parent company in Weil am Rhein at the south-western tip of Germany where they are integrated into systems which are used around the globe. Key business

Today, a key activity is meeting the needs of the automated warehousing and logistics sectors and other areas where machinery is being miniaturised, while becoming smarter with more complex power and data transmission requirements. “These include automated stock retrieval or intralogistics systems”, explained general manager Marian Roberts. “Essentially, we supply parts for systems involving the movement of people, goods or data. The applications are becoming increasingly more complex and our focus is to support the end-customer application with quality products so their business can perform uninterrupted and at the highest level of efficiency. Responsiveness to the customer is of vital importance.” Intralogistics systems play an important role in the automated in-plant transport of materials in factories, distribution centres, parcel services, warehouses, airports, hospitals and others. These systems increase efficiency, quality, sustainability and traceability of material flow processes, while reducing waste and inventory buffers. Without them, modern high performance facilities could not function.

Origin story

The company’s story in Ireland dates back to the early seventies when founder Manfred Wampfler was looking for a location for a new production facility. He was attracted to Ireland by a number of factors including the availability of a suitable labour pool and the financial supports and other incentives available at the time. Wampfler toured the country looking at potential sites for the facility in the company of the future Irish general manager Nick Carty. He was impressed by the work ethic of the Irish people, the response of IDA Ireland, the tax regime and the existence of an advance factory with room for future expansion. “IDA Ireland had constructed an advance factory in Baltinglass which was suitable for the buffer manufacturing operation envisaged at the time”, Roberts said. “The availability of the ready-made facility and local workforce, coupled with the situation of the town more or less equidistant between the ports of Rosslare and Dublin, settled the decision.” Within five years the company had added a significant extension to the plant and has continued to invest in upgrading plant and equipment ever since. “The company was part of the great tradition of family owned German engineering firms known as Mittelstand”, Roberts pointed out.

Change of ownership

Ownership changed in 2007 when the company was acquired by the French Delachaux Group, a family-owned company created in 1902 and a global player in mission-critical engineered solutions for rail infrastructure, rail signalling, energy and data management solutions and chromium metal. The parent group continues to invest in the Irish operation. The biggest growth area for the Baltinglass facility at present is plastic components. “We now have a fleet of 10 plastics moulding machines in Baltinglass and have recently upgraded two of them with support from IDA Ireland”, Roberts noted. “This is an area of growth for us over the years and we invest in the latest technology to optimise efficiency and environmental factors. The Irish operation is now established as the competency centre for plastics moulding in the group. It’s quite specialised and our expertise and capability is not easily replicated.” The outlook remains positive for the company and Roberts added, “As long as industry needs to take power or data from a source to another, moving location, we will continue to provide the components required. “Whenever a new part is required by a customer, our toolmaking department collaborate on design with our German colleagues and project-manage the manufacturing of the new mould and the production department ensure the successful production of the part. In addition to plastics moulding, our manufacturing activities also include steel-press operations, rubber buffer manufacture and supporting assembly activities.” Roberts continued: “As our markets are global, Brexit will have some impact but primarily in terms of supply chain, however contingency measures are in place to minimise the impact. “We have a terrific team of 47 highly competent staff working for us here now and are proud of the high level of trust and engagement which exists in the workplace; that family feeling is still there and hopefully will be for many more years to come”

Barry McCall

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