Celebrating 20 years’ of independence

The impressive buyout from Lucas Varity, appropriately completed on Independence Day 1997, has enabled the Yorkshire business to drive innovation and grow year-on-year.

Twenty years on and NSF Controls is successfully solving the actuation requirements of today’s technologically complex and changing world. The company’s solenoids and switches are used globally across defence and security applications, for automotive, utilities, medical and leisure functions, and breakthrough industrial and commercial automation.

The original company can be traced back to 1931 but it was the management buyout in 1997 that formed NSF Controls Ltd. Following a merger between owners Lucas Industries and Varity Corporation in 1996, NSF Controls was amongst several divisions considered surplus to future requirement. However, the management team and employees saw potential, taking the lead in the successful MBO.

Since then, the company has seen on-going investment in advanced tooling and manufacturing facilities as well as the development of its accreditations. Now, BSI Quality Management System ISO 9001 accredited, NSF Controls operates a world-class UK manufacturing base employing around 100 people, with several part of the original MBO team.

Offering the widest range of solenoids and switches from a single source anywhere in Europe, NSF Controls has focused on taking a more advanced approach to product development, engineering and technology; the company’s specialist components often providing a foundation for the development of bespoke solutions, driving forward technological breakthroughs that improve performance and capability of client products and services.

From minor modifications to custom designs for progressive new applications, NSF Controls’ wide-reaching engineering expertise, integrated manufacturing and assembly skills enable all aspects of development to be progressed in-house, with 90% of output, customised.

Increasingly, NSF Controls is involved with more technically demanding challenges. Successful innovations include the improvement in performance and power consumption of one client’s mobile phone charger lockers. To date, in excess of five million charges have been provided and four million more chargers forecast annually. The company has also developed and progressed to manufacture a revolutionary non-sequential control switch for the guitar market.

The Free-Way’s patented design is now the choice of many guitarists and sold through distributors in Europe and America. For the locker and vending sector, NSF Controls custom designed and manufactured a solution for a client’s inventory control system. Another significant success has been the re-design of a pre-payment meter gas valve, delivering a more cost-effective unit, an 80% reduction in weight and no reduction in performance.

Commenting on NSF Controls’ proactive approach, one of the original MBO Team, now CEO Doug Priestley, said, “With intensifying product complexity, fast-track launch cycles and The Internet of Things (IoT) transforming the way global manufacturers manage engineering today, we take a much more flexible working approach. Partnering to suit client requirements, the experienced team is able to work collaboratively in a cross-functional and cross-discipline environment.

“And it’s this dynamic approach that’s generated results. Sales have risen, turnover has tripled and we are now exporting to over 30 countries.

“Ensuring our team is highly trained is important too in securing the future of our business. The development of local skills through apprenticeships is key. Our on-going programme of work-force development means employees are encouraged to improve their working techniques and environment through the 5S practice. Evidence of this is apparent where assembly lines have been rationalised to minimise fatigue and split shifts rotate within the new lines.

“We’re looking ahead now to the next 20 years and the changes that will be happening in manufacturing and how we can support the exciting technological and engineering complexities of the markets in which we operate today.”

From initial in-house design feasibility, prototyping and costing, through to testing, manufacture and delivery, NSF Controls can adapt and deliver market-ready components and sub-assemblies. Using CAD and 3D modelling to deliver design objectives, NSF is developing its virtual engineering facilities for the future.

For more information, visit www.nsfcontrols.co.uk