State of the art lean lifts boost Thetford’s Vanilla Electronics

A Thetford electronics firm has invested £200,000 in state-of-the-art technology to help it sustain its rapid growth.

Vanilla Electronics, which provides supply chain and manufacturing services for global technology firms in the Cambridge cluster and beyond, has completed the installation of state-of-the-art, automated warehousing equipment to drive efficiencies at its technology centre on Thetford’s Mundford Road trading estate.

The two 9.6m tall lean lifts – intelligent automated tower storage units – automatically pick components for a specific product, allowing the operator to focus on the main product or kit assembly and not the time-consuming picking of individual materials. Installing the new equipment has also resulted in cleared valuable floor space previously dedicated to traditional rack storage, improving the flow of activities, productivity and Vanilla’s own capacity to take on more work.

A £200,000 package from HSBC helped the company find the purchases.

Dan Croft, managing director of Vanilla Electronics, said: “Having the lifts installed has already given us immediate benefits. The lifts have sped up the overall component picking process, giving the assemblers more time to focus on their core roles. It has resulted in happier staff, higher quality output, higher throughput, quicker delivery and the capacity to increase volumes. All of this will grow the company’s reputation and appeal to those customers who do not have the same warehouse capacity, automation or as efficient in-house systems.

“HSBC’s funding has meant that our proposition is even more attractive to customers looking to outsource their supply chain activities, helping expand our business with both new and existing customers.”

Last year, Vanilla Electronics increased revenues by 23 per cent, taking its total turnover to £11.55m. Revenues continued to increase by 44 per cent in the first quarter of 2019 and the business is now planning to increase this further now the funding facility is in place. The Tech Corridor visited Vanilla earlier this year, and got a detailed insight into life at the firm and its plans for the future.

Jason Smithers, HSBC UK’s area director for corporate banking in Norfolk, added: “Vanilla Electronics is a fantastic example of a family start-up which has grown at a rapid rate over the last 17 years. Upgrading its warehouse equipment and technologies was key to further growth and we were happy to support the team through this process. With more local jobs on the horizon, we’re looking forward to seeing them expand further.”

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