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KUKA & Altec Engineering: specialist skills, knowledge, and automation integration expertise; one strategic partnership

KUKA’s system partner program enables us to strengthen the breadth and depth of expertise available to our customers across the UK and across all manufacturing sectors. KUKA cannot be masters of everything, our strategic partners have those skills – this knowledge is their core business. What they bring to the table is specialist skills and knowledge within their specific sector.

15 April 2021

One such partner is Co. Durham based Silver system partner, Altec Engineering: automation specialists, who provide full turnkey solutions and a comprehensive range of engineering support services to their diverse customer base. With over forty years of automation experience, Altec Engineering’s solutions deliver on innovation and encompass the latest technologies.

Their location, in the North East of England positions Altec Engineering within the epicentre of one of the UK’s fastest-growing manufacturing regions. The (North East) region boasts an advanced manufacturing sector that contributes over 15% of its GVA (Gross Value Added) and 11.3% of the area’s employment. With the North East Local Enterprise Partnership aiming to increase the number of local jobs by a staggering 100,000 by the year 2024[1].

Altec Engineering’s automation expertise includes a number of technologies that can satisfy smart manufacturing concepts, such as vision-guided robot systems. In the midst of i4.0, digitisation and automation are transforming the industry, no more so than in the automotive industry that has seen a significant revival in the North of England as manufacturers re-shore operations post BREXIT.

“Altec Engineering’ location is key to our collaborative efforts in the North East,” said Bernard Bagley, Head of Robot Sales (GI), KUKA UK adding “Advanced manufacturing has been identified as one of the fundamental growth areas in the North East, which itself has been defined as an area of ‘strategic importance’. As advanced manufacturing continues to take root in the North East, we (KUKA and Altec) are optimistic that the sector will go from strength to strength”.

Alastair Waite, CEO, Altec Engineering said “Altec Engineering Limited, was founded in 1978 and has an established reputation for excellence in engineering and customer support. He added, “We are proud to be recognised as one of KUKA’s strategic system partners, and hope that our continued collaboration and automation expertise can support manufacturing growth in the local area”. He continued “The North East is at the centre of a manufacturing revolution, across multiple sectors”.

Adam Hudson, Area Sales Manager (North), KUKA UK anticipates great things in the coming months. “Sales leads are generated by both KUKA and Altec Engineering, but the majority tend to come from KUKA, due to our size and reach. The system partners (Altec) are independent and are not required to specify KUKA robots in every case but, naturally, we expect that most robotic automa­tion deployed will be Orange”. He continued “Altec are not only Silver system partners they are also ambassadors of the KUKA brand and are keen to expand upon their existing application portfolio. As the manufacturing arena in the North East evolves, I’ll be on hand to support them and their customers”.

With no physical presence in the North East of England, the partnership presents KUKA with an ideal opportunity to get closer to potential and existing customers. Plans for a KUKA demonstration area within Altec’s premises present opportunities for both sides.  

Alastair said, “It’s sometimes very difficult for a customer to visualise a robotics system, so having a physical robot model, even digital simulations through which they can contextualise an automated application, will be invaluable. The KUKA brand is synonymous with quality and reliability, which underpins our ethos of automation excellence”.

Hot desks are and will be available to the KUKA sales and robot engineer teams. “The nature of the role(s) dictate a large amount of time is spent on the road,” says Bernard, adding “It makes sense that if we are visiting a client in the North East, we utilise that opportunity to spread ourselves around as much as possible. Having a facility in which our staff can be based is an invaluable resource to have available. It also makes sense that amid a time of significant industrial and manufacturing transformation, we make our presence known as much as possible”.

It is clear that manufacturing in the North East is undergoing a significant shift, during which those manufacturers who have historically relied heavily upon traditional production methods will need to consider robot process automation as a fundamental part of their evolution, aligned with changing trends. Factors such as supply versus demand, product integrity considerations, access to a skilled labour pool, and maintaining competitive advantage are all common considerations as business owners look to future-proof operations.

The first step in this transformation is choosing the right automation partner. A conversation about buying a robot is just the beginning for any business considering automated processes. Identifying the right automation partner to deliver is critical.