AT THE END OF AUGUST, FENCING MANUFACTURER TORNADO HELD TWO OPEN DAYS AT THEIR FACTORY SITED IN MILLOM, CUMBRIA. THE MAIN PURPOSE WAS TO SHOW THE GUESTS ALL OF THE RECENT DEVELOPMENTS AND INVESTMENT IN THE SITE.
It is over 35 years since Tornado became the first company to manufacture high tensile steel wire fencing in the UK. Today it is widely recognised as the leading player in the sector. The company’s reputation extends across agriculture, equestrian, forestry and infrastructure sectors – offering 120 different standard products – as well as products for more niche industries such as poultry farming and fishery protection.
The quality of the Tornado product range and its suitability for its various markets derives in part from the fact that the company started in this industry as a contractor. The Tornado team brings from that heritage a unique understanding of what it takes to design, manufacture and install an effective fence for every situation.
This understanding of its customers’ needs has driven Tornado’s expansion on its site in Millom, ever since the company moved there in the 1980s. In 2015 Tornado acquired the freehold of the whole industrial estate on which it is based. This has given it the capacity and flexibility to increase manufacturing output to meet the needs of its UK and international customers.
In the five years since 2012, Tornado has invested £7m in new manufacturing plant and space. This has included machines to manufacture one of the company’s newest products, Torus. One of these machines was installed in 2012 and another in 2015. Torus is a premium fence product which features a high pressure bonded, smooth knot and a continuous vertical stay wire. This makes the product safer and stronger to use with livestock, especially in equestrian applications. It is the success of this product which has led to much of the recent increase in capacity at Millom.
In 2016 and 2017 Tornado added a 1,350 sq m finished goods warehouse and a 1,000 sq m raw materials store. Space on the site had been at a real premium following recent manufacturing expansion and these new facilities have made a huge difference to capacity. Tornado can now hold significant stocks on site in anticipation of seasonal peaks and the opportunity to improve warehouse layout has had a really marked effect on the speed of picking and despatch activities.
Around 75 contractors and resellers made the journey to Millom for each of the two open days. The day entailed a presentation on the history of the company from Managing Director Kenny Campbell, a talk from Operations Director Jonathan Miller (who heads up the site at Millom) on Tornado Wire’s production and quality management, and a tour of the factory’s manufacturing and warehousing facilities. This gave the guests chance to see all of the recent development and investment that has gone into the Millom site, as Tornado continue to increase production capacity whilst maintaining quality standards.
Visitors also had the opportunity to speak with some of Tornado’s partner companies who had made the journey to Millom to support the day. Quickfencer, Bryce, Gripple, Solo Fencing Systems, and Profencer brought a variety of their equipment and conducted demonstrations throughout the day. An excellent hog roast lunch was provided by Knight’s Bespoke Catering.
Kenny Campbell describes the process involved in manufacturing fencing net as being similar to weaving. “Machines are set up to manufacture a specific product,” he says. “To change to a different product can be anything from a few minutes to a couple of days for certain products. The number of different product variations that we have – different knots, different sizes and different materials, high tensile or mild steel – not to mention a host of bespoke products, means that our requirement for flexibility is key. Our aim is to minimise down time as much as possible. That is a process which involves a lot of coordination across all departments within the company, so that the product is available when needed to support the sales team, ensuring availability of the products that our customers need when they need them. This is something I believe we have become good at over the years.”
It was mutually beneficial for the Tornado production staff to speak with contractors – giving both parties a chance to understand the challenges the other faces – and learn more about the practicalities of making Tornado fencing in the factory and installing it out in the field.
Both days were a success, thoroughly enjoyed by both the Tornado team and their visitors with many positive comments from those who attended.
Tornado employs 56 people at Millom and is the biggest manufacturing employer in the town. As well as new warehousing and machinery, the company is also developing a new building on the site which will further enable it to expand production. As it is, the lines are running 24/7 for much of the year to enable the company to meet demand. The company is ISO9001:2015 accredited and also
has Investors in People Gold for its entire operation – manufacturing at Millom, its distribution centre at Crieff in Scotland and the company’s head office in Warwickshire.
Given that the company’s customer base is genuinely UK-wide, with very significant sales in Scotland since the company’s earliest days, the Millom location is well-placed centrally in the country and with good access to the transport infrastructure.