Machinery Upgrade Delivers High-Quality And High Performance To The Ceramicx Toolroom

Upgrades to meet demand

Infrared technology is continually evolving, and as leaders in infrared heating elements and components for industry, it means Ceramicx has to lead by example. At the heart of everything we do is the technology we invest in, and our in-house machinery needs to help us meet the demand.

Our first upgrade has been to our CNC milling machines. While only used occasionally for a low quantity of production output, our current Hurco VM1 3-axis machine proved crucial to a lot of internal projects. But while giving us the ability to create moulds for many of our other machines, including our industrial ceramic hollow production line and dust press machines, it wasn’t satisfying current requirements.

Speed and accuracy

To help maximise production, step forward our brand new DMG MORI CMX 800 V vertical milling centre. As we run our CNC milling machines overnight producing moulds, this latest technology gives us essential improvements in key areas, together with increased productivity and reliability.

A larger table size and load, together with the increased work area allowing for greater X, Y, and Z-axis travel, gives us more stability. We also now have a much-improved cutting performance with an inline spindle speed of 12,000rpm, giving us a 53% increase in power and 45% higher torque. And there’s even greater accuracy of positioning in all axes up to 6 microns.

L-R Tooling Engineers David O Driscoll, Moetez Brinis & Tony O Donovan

Another level of product

Overseeing the installation was our IT Project Manager, Alan Draper, who said “We’re upgrading in this area now to bolster our manufacturing as we’re, by our own standards, not at the level we need to be. We have more moulds for Industrial ceramic production, Dust Press and Progression tooling than ever before, so we needed to increase our manufacturing capabilities to meet these demands.

But while the CMX 800 V is just the beginning of our planned upgrades, what else is in store? “We have a new DMG MORI NLX2000 lathe coming in shortly which is a very new piece of technology for us, we have nothing on a par with it at the moment, as well as a new laser marking machine. We also have a few things in the pipeline that we are not quite ready to talk about yet, but they should all come together to bring another level to our products.

While the addition of the CMX 800 V is a significant investment, allowing us to effectively double our current output, it also cements our commitment to productivity and performance as set in our recent ISO 9001:2015 quality management certification.

Ceramicx –”Optimising Infrared for the Future”

Over the last four years Ceramicx has seen many changes; Industry 4.0, cultural and environmental. In 2020 we have made the pivotal change from a craft based production to a semi-automated industrial production line. This has resulted in continued improvement to our quality, processes, and consistency.

Ceramicx is an indigenous Irish company with an unrivalled knowledge of infrared in all forms and a proven success record of nearly 30 years.  We welcome you to take a brief visit of Ceramicx through our short film presentation.

We acknowledge the excellent work of Dog Day Media and our own in-house marketing team in producing this presentation and a big Thank You to all the Ceramicx staff who starred in their film debut!

Ceramicx’s Quality Team

A Milestone

In October 2020 Ceramicx was awarded the ISO 9001:2015 accreditation for their Quality Management System by NSAi. We are delighted to have achieved this accreditation in what was a very challenging year for business. It gives assurance to our customers throughout the world that the Ceramicx name is synonymous with the highest standards in Quality – a must in today’s competitive world.

The Team

(L-R) Stanislav Piscako (Quality Technician), Ian Backhouse (Quality Manager)

Ian Backhouse joined us as our Head of Quality in June 2019 with the aim of implementing ISO 9001:2015 and to administer ongoing continual improvement in line with it. Ian’s background in quality management is twofold. Originally from the UK, Ian worked extensively in the field of environmental consultancy from 2003 to 2010, specializing in the fields of asbestos and legionella. following which, he relocated to Sweden to work as a quality manager for Elpress AB, who are a global manufacturer and supplier of electrical connectors and cable crimping solutions for a varied group of industries such as the wind power and renewable energy, traction and automotive sectors. Following his time with Elpress, Ian felt he was ready for a new challenge and made the move to Ireland, to work with Ceramicx.

Stanislav Piscako joined Ceramicx Ltd. 2013. He has worked in Ceramicx on the production floor for five years, mainly as Kiln operator but also in many other production areas. With his enthusiasm to work and willingness to improve and explore, he was promoted to Quality Control position to ensure that our product and processes are controlled and matching our customer expectations. In 2019 he received Quality Assurance Certificate from Cork Institute of Technology (CIT) and is continuing to study for a EIQA Diploma in Quality Management qualification.

His duties in Ceramicx include control of production line processes and records, Rejects Overview as well as employee training, problem-solving, calibration and analysis to aid continuous improvement for Ceramicx Ltd.

ISO Undertaking

Stanislav’s experience working in Ceramicx for the last seven years meant that he played a crucial role in helping Ian understand the company.

With a target of one year to attain the ISO certification Ian, supported by Stanislav, analysed what needed to be done and set about gathering up and organising everything to make the Ceramicx quality management system fulfil the requirements of ISO 9001:2015. (See our previous blog on how we achieved the ISO here).

Going Forward

Now that the dust has cleared, maintaining the standard is the task at hand. While Ian is overseeing the implementation of continual improvement and maintaining the quality management system, Stanislav is keeping the production floor in order. Gaining the ISO 9001:2015 accreditation is a wonderful achievement for our quality team and company as a whole. Next year we will really see the payoff with the quality management system firmly in place.

Success As Ceramicx Welcomes New UK Business Development Manager

Tapping into the UK market

Mark brings over 30 years’ experience to the new role, where he’ll help Ceramicx increase our exposure as a leading infrared heating solutions provider and reach out to an, as yet, largely untapped UK marketplace.

Ceramicx is well known in the industry, working in partnership with a global network of independent distributors. But Mark’s experience will prove crucial as we look to explore opportunities in the UK applications sectors, together with more project-based industry and manufacturing businesses where Ceramicx can deliver a fully bespoke and custom heating solution.

This pro-active role will see Mark based in the West Midlands, mapping out the market and the UK territory as a whole. While strategically looking at where Ceramicx should be focusing directly, he’ll be engaging with UK-based process engineers, machine OEMs and end-users, helping them understand exactly what solutions Ceramicx can offer.

(L-R) Patrick Wilson (Production Manager) and Mark Billing (UK Business Development Manager)

Mark will also be advising both new and potential customers on how to best apply infrared in their processes, helping them realise the cost savings and increased productivity from a safer, more reliable infrared manufacturing environment.

Specifically, where we can improve their processes by replacing conventional heating methods with more energy-efficient and cost-effective infrared heating solutions. And of course, developing relationships and being that vital point of contact for ongoing sales and aftercare.

Now Mark’s been with Ceramicx for a few weeks, including spending time with us over in Ireland, here’s a bit more about him.

A new challenge

Birmingham born and bred, Mark has a formidable background and significant experience. For 30 years, he’s worked with OEMs, sub-contract service providers, and distributors in wide-ranging engineering sectors. Starting from an apprenticeship in mechanical engineering, the desire to find something more dynamic led to more tech-based and engineering-focused sales roles.

These roles progressed into business development and a more strategic, solutions-based selling environment in which Mark now excels. By helping the customer identify three objectives – either trying to fix, improve, or prevent a problem – Mark will work with our engineers to design a solution.

With self-proclaimed “perfect timing” at landing the role with Ceramicx, Mark is already looking forward to getting out on the road.

Throughout my career, I’ve never wanted to just repeat my experiences but looked to enhance them with new challenges. Joining Ceramicx is a great opportunity to work within a niche industry sector, and with their expertise in infrared technology, I’m convinced there’s great potential to become the partner of choice for many UK-based manufacturing companies.

Ceramicx is a dynamic, engineering-based business with big ambitions. While the culture, credibility, and integrity of Ceramicx really attracted me, there’s also a great synergy between us and we’re very much in sync with how we want to convey the capabilities of Ceramicx to customers.

Contact Mark today

This is a new role for Mark and new territory for us. While it will allow Ceramicx to look towards to a whole new market, it will also help us become more pro-active and effective in our online sales and marketing. So we extend our congratulations to Mark on joining us and welcome him to the team.

While Mark will be making contact with many businesses around different areas of the UK in due course, you contact him directly on 07761 161 732 or [email protected] to discuss your project and find out how Ceramicx infrared heatwork can help you.

(L-R) Gráinne Wilson (Director), Frank Wilson (Managing Director), Mark Billing (UK Business Development Manager)

Ceramicx Gains Full ISO 9001 Certification

As the world’s leading quality management standard, the ISO 9000 system is used by thousands of businesses and organisations in over 170 countries, whatever their size or sector. By gaining full ISO 9001:2015 certification for our Quality Management System (QMS), Ceramicx can focus on increasing our performance and productivity while taking the next step as infrared industry leaders.

What is ISO?

In a nutshell, the International Organization for Standardisation (ISO), officially formed in 1947, brought together 67 technical committees from around theworld to “develop voluntary, consensus-based, market-relevant international standards that support innovation and provide solutions to global challenges”. Over the last 70 years, ISO has grown to include a membership of national standards bodies from 165 countries. These experts help develop international standards across multiple sectors and industries so every business and organisation can use a level playing field of high-quality standards to the benefit of themselves and their customers.

Since the ISO 9000 series of quality management standards were first introduced in 1987, they’ve seen various updates and iterations. With the latest ISO 9001:2015 version used by over 1m businesses and organisations in 170 countries, the standards now integrate more easily with other management systems standards around the world.

The importance of ISO 9001:2015 for Ceramicx

Ceramicx is no stranger to ISO quality management certification, having previously held the ISO 9001:2000 standard. By gaining the ISO 9001:2015 standard, it’s a further extension of our commitment to aligning quality with our business strategy, as well as our status as industry leaders.

ISO 9001:2015 covers each and every area of our internal processes, from purchasing, design, R&D, and production to marketing, packaging, and goods-in – and everything in between. As an essential business certification, it shows our QMS reaches and maintains high standards at every stage, with full involvement and accountability across the entire business.

It also demonstrates our ability to provide products that meet customer demands, together with any relevant statutory and regulatory requirements. Having this certification can also prove, in many cases, to be an absolutely critical stipulation when working with certain industries such as the aerospace and automotive sectors.

How we achieved it

L-R Ian Backhouse (Quality Manager), Gráinne Wilson (Director), Frank Wilson (Managing Director)

With a quality control team in place, Ian Backhouse joined us as our Head of Quality in June 2019 with the aim of implementing ISO 9001:2015 and to administer ongoing continual improvement in line with it. This would ensure the Ceramicx QMS was ISO 9001:2015 compliant and could be registered with the National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAi).

Looking to implement the standard within his first 12 months, Ian rose to the challenge with a 3-step process. Beginning with studying the full structure of the company, he followed up by analysing all the supporting documentation that underpinned it. With many revisions from the ISO 2000 standard, the final step was to ensure all documentation and working practices were aligned with the 2015 revision.

Following that process, the NSAi completed our ISO Stage 1 audit in November 2019. Though impressed with their findings, we were given a list of further improvement actions for Ian to carry out and implement.

Full ISO approval

With all outstanding improvements actioned and implemented, our Stage 2 audit in September 2020 (initially planned for June 2020, but COVID restrictions meant it was pushed back) saw Ceramicx pass with flying colours and our ISO 9001:2015 certification was approved on the day. We’ll now be reviewed annually to ensure we continue hitting the mark.

With full credit to Ian and the cooperation and efforts of the entire workforce, Ceramicx now has the QMS and accreditation we need to take us forward and continue leading the infrared industry.

For more information on our ISO 9001:2015 certification and what it means for your business, call our team today on +353 28 37510 or email on [email protected]. We’ll be more than happy to discuss it with you and help you find a heating solution that works for you and your business.

Industrial Infrared Vacuum Forming Ovens – Ceramicx Meets The Demand

Lockdown luxury

During this pandemic, the UK, Europe, and the US have all seen a huge increase in demand for above ground swimming pools and hot tubs. Taking advantage of the hot summer days and now the winter evenings of 2020, these back yard tubs have been something of a lockdown luxury for many families as they spend extended time together.

Though the surge in popularity has been most prolific in the US, it’s left manufacturers and retailers around the world struggling to keep up with demand, with order books filled for the rest of 2020 and a backorder well into 2021. If expected further COVID outbreaks appear and lockdown restrictions come in, it will mean more people being housebound once again, with more time to enjoy their new purchase.

Ceramicx to help meet demand

Processing time on hot tub material manufacture had already become a bottleneck for production, and this recent increase in demand is leaving manufacturers struggling to meet expected lead times.

As we post this, Ceramicx is about to undertake a project for a US-based manufacturer. Looking to us for help, they need the heatwork section of their machine to heat the material in a more productive and time-efficient way. So instead of choosing the costly route of buying a whole new machine, they decided to make even more savings by focusing on heating their material correctly – and in turn cutting their process and labour costs.

As a pre-pandemic example of what we’ve done previously, back in 2017, a similar manufacturer in Canada contacted our distributor in the United States to help them build the heating section of their machine. While in the process of building a machine to mould the main hot tub unit, they wanted us to do the heat work for a relevant section of their vacuum forming machine. You can read more detail on that project in our vacuum forming case study.

Since then, and especially over the last few months, further enquiries have come to us from this company – as well as many others – to help meet the demand in vacuum forming oven heatwork.

The Ceramicx solution

Capable of forming thermoplastics of different thicknesses, Ceramicx infrared vacuum forming ovens provide the energy needed to heat materials to a flexible and malleable state. Our Ceramicx heating engineers can custom-design, configure, and build a vacuum forming oven specified to your exact requirements, helping you increase productivity and performance.

Using Ceramicx industry-standard infrared heating elements, a custom-built vacuum forming oven gives you the speed, efficiency, and infrared heat you need with precision control to heat a range of materials – including specialist hot tub plastics.

Vacuum forming oven key features

While fully customised to suit your specifications, upper and lower heating panels of any vacuum forming oven are built around a durable stainless steel framework. Whether it’s standalone or incorporated into existing machinery, a bespoke-designed vacuum forming system will always give you low ongoing maintenance and running costs.

Trust Ceramicx vacuum forming ovens

At Ceramicx, we have the in-house capabilities to build custom industrial infrared vacuum forming ovens and heating solutions to almost any design and specification. Whatever your requirements, we’ll give you the clarity you need to decide on the infrared heating solution that meets your needs.

For more information email our technical team today on [email protected] or contact any of our global distributors.

Infrared Comfort Heating Helps COVID Restrictions Compliance

Over the summer, we’ve all had to navigate our way through COVID lockdowns, shutdowns, and restrictions, but as the autumn rolls around, things are changing. More of us are getting back to work and we’re all getting out and about again. But with a change in the season comes the need for heat – inside and out. And Ceramicx infrared technology continues to keep customers and workers warm.

As leading manufacturers of infrared ceramic and quartz heating products, we supply to businesses in over 80 countries around the world, building progressive relationships with many of them. One example has seen Ceramicx work with Herschel Infrared on a contract manufacturing basis. Both ceramic and quartz elements from our range go into specific housings which we manufacture for many of their comfort heating products.

Going through the COVID phase, we’ve seen the situation in workplaces and public areas change dramatically. As a result, Herschel’s heaters, together with our infrared elements, are playing a bigger role as the temperature steadily starts to drop.

The advantage of infrared

New COVID guidelines advise on using air ventilation systems in every building. But if one isn’t in place, there should be adequate ventilation from other sources – and that usually means opening windows, whatever the weather or temperature. While this is generally OK in warmer weather, it’s not comfortable as we go into the cooler part of the year.

But infrared is an ideal method of providing heat inside, and its simplicity means targeted heat can be supplied to specific areas effectively and efficiently. So rooms, surfaces, and people can all be heated without having to warm the surrounding air. And that’s a huge advantage over using traditional convected heat which would cost more and/or might be lost through open windows.

Increased outdoor use

While Herschel’s comfort heaters can be used in indoor commercial or public environments – overcoming any issues of traditional ‘difficult to install or expensive to run’ heating methods – they’re also used to great effect in outdoor environments too. And while businesses in almost every sector are adapting to changing COVID guidelines for their staff and customers, it’s the hospitality industry that’s seen more change than most.

Being in the fresh air helps lessen the spread of the COVID virus, so over the summer restaurants and bars opened their doors to accommodate more customers outside. Providing quicker, greener, and more energy-efficient warmth for outdoor drinking and dining, the use of infrared has increased with outdoor heaters giving a more effective way to keep customers happy – and spending more.

Infrared for every industry

Whether Herschel’s heaters are being used inside a factory or warehouse, in indoor public spaces or offices, or out in the open air, it’s the Ceramicx infrared heating elements used inside them that are perfectly matched to suit the requirement of the heater and its environment.

Herschel heaters such as the Pulsar, with its sleek and contemporary style for indoor rooms and offices, and the Aspect, with its more conventional design for indoor or covered outdoor use, both use our zero light-emitting, ceramic infrared elements. While Vulcan models, perfectly suited to heat larger, industrial warehouses or factories, use our Quartz Tungsten or Halogen tube emitters.

As more businesses adopt this method of heating, both indoors and out, they’re already seeing the cost-effective and energy-efficient benefits in infrared heat for both staff and customers. Not only that, but it highlights that our range of Ceramicx infrared elements and components really can be used for every industry, in more ways than one.

For more information on the entire range of comfort heaters, to buy direct, or to discuss your own requirements, visit the Herschel Infrared website.

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