Berwin Industrial Polymers

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Berwin Industrial Polymers's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Berwin Industrial Polymers is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

Highlighting best practice
Gareth Jefferson, managing
Palletised finished product
Although we may not always be aware of it, many of our
daily activities involve the use of an article or component
made of rubber. We drive on it, insulate with it, sit on it,
walk on it, cover roofs with it and make all kinds of seals with it – the
possibilities are virtually endless. Rubber also keeps industry running;
very few machines do not have a part somewhere which requires
the special properties it can provide. With more than 60 years’
experience, Berwin Industrial Polymers has built a trusted reputation
for technological leadership in the development of rubber
compounds. Under the ownership of the HEXPOL Group, current
managing director Gareth Jefferson has spearheaded significant
investments in both plant and personnel over recent years.
They have ensured their leading position through attention to customer satisfaction,
delivering quality, reliability and continuous improvement to become the lowest-cost
producer of high-quality products. They continue to advance their products and services
to meet the diverse requirements of today’s demanding and challenging global industries.
The science of rubber compounding
To achieve the special properties required, rubber undergoes a compounding
process. This is a high-technology procedure which enhances the base rubber
polymers by blending them with additives, stabilisers and other ingredients to create
new material combinations. So a rubber compound is, in fact, a complicated mixture
– more like a recipe than a simple material. Formulating the right recipe is the key to
a successful final product. Our in-house technologists work closely with customers
to develop unique compounds which are tailored to their specific requirements.
»Managing director:
»Established in 1953
»Based in Lydney,
»Services: Manufacture rubber
»No. of employees: 74
»Key markets include the tyre,
industrial, defence, construction,
matting and mining industries
»Part of the HEXPOL Group
Berwin Industrial
Joining the HEXPOL family
In 2016, we were acquired by world-
leading polymers group HEXPOL.
With more than 40 operations
across Europe, Asia and the North
American Free Trade Agreement,
and a workforce of around 4,400
employees, HEXPOL provided us with
a solid platform for further growth.
Speaking of the acquisition, Georg
Brunstam, CEO of HEXPOL Group at
the time, commented: “The acquisition
is a very good complement to HEXPOL
Compounding in Europe. It broadens
and strengthens our presence with
rubber compounds in the UK market
– Berwin expands our capabilities and
capacities to serve our customers in a
more efficient way.”
HEXPOL is results-driven, with an
effective, lean organisational structure
focused on delivering long-term
growth. They take a decentralised but
highly coordinated approach, with
most units structured as separate
companies. This allows for short and
fast decision-making processes and
time-effective implementation. All sites
co-operate closely, sharing knowledge
to optimise production, supply chain
and development efficiencies.
Driving production efficiencies
Over the last two years, we have
achieved a ten per cent efficiency
improvement and a 25 per cent
increase in productivity. This has been
accomplished through a combination of
capital investment, improving working
practices and personnel training.
High-quality compounding equipment
is required to create the homogeneous
blend of ingredients needed to
produce the rubber our customers
demand. Creating rubber compounds
in a closed mixer is known as a batch
process; all ingredients must be
prepared according to the weight
specified in the recipe. As part of
our programme of upgrading and
modernisation, we have introduced
automated weighing and mixing
processes, and added varying mixer
sizes and types. The various weighing
stages are monitored by IT systems to
ensure maximum precision and enable
traceability of the entire batch.
One of our main goals is to reduce
the amount of “dead time” on our
machines. As well as investing in
equipment, we’ve also worked with
our teams to ensure that we are all
focused on zero-defects production
and address any skill gaps. We have
standardised our working practices to
help eliminate human error, and have
adopted such lean manufacturing
techniques as 5S, SMED and OEE.
This has allowed us to reduce average
changeover times by over 200 percent.
Training and apprenticeship
We run our engineering apprenticeship
programmes in conjunction with
our local training college, with four
per cent of our team currently on a
scheme. Afurther five per cent of our
team are currently in formal training
programmes ranging from quality to
health andsafety. Automatic chemical
weighing for precision
and health and safety
Over the last
two years, we
have achieved
a ten per cent
and a 25 per
cent increase
in productivity
Highlighting best practice
We conduct extensive in-house
training, and are currently rewriting
our manuals to further enhance
this aspect of our business. As part
of our commitment to continuous
improvement, we hold weekly toolbox
talks spanning a range of topics and
trying to understand the markets
where our products are used.
The markets we serve
Around 80 per cent of our sales are
to the tyre sector. The remaining
20 per cent is made up of diverse
applications in the industrial,
automotive, construction, defence,
matting and mining industries.
Around 70 per cent is sold to the
local UK market, and 30 per cent is
exported. We’ve embraced Brexit
as an opportunity, and we’ve seen
our exports grow on the back of a
weakening pound. We also believe it
will incentivise UK manufacturing to
become market leaders.
Tyres are a safety-critical application,
where quality and product
performance simply cannot be
compromised. Our customers supply
new and retread tyres for commercial
trucks, passenger cars, motorsport, off-
road, agricultural machinery, aviation
and defence vehicles. All in question
demand the highest levels of product
reliability and consistency.
With increasing focus on
environmental impact and the use of
natural resources, we have committed
to reducing our carbon footprint,
and have undertaken a programme
to be 100 per cent renewable
energy sourced over the next five
years. Alongside this, a significant
part of our investment strategy is
focused on energy reduction. We’re
also considering the impact of our
products, and their final application;
retread tyres use a lesser amount
of raw material, and the amount of
energy and other petrochemicals
required during the manufacturing
process is also significantly reduced. By
adopting a retreading policy, transport
operators are also reducing the
amount of tyre waste and supporting
a circular economy. For our customers,
it is now about selling mileage, rather
than selling tyres. This initiative is
supported by our product development
teams, who are constantly testing raw
materials and adapting the recipes
of our rubber compounds, while
looking for ways to provide increased
mileage and longer service without
compromising safety.
Future plans
The rubber compounding industry
and the markets we serve continue to
play a vital role in the British economy.
To remain competitive, we need to
be able to adapt as market demands
change, developing new materials and
working in an efficient way.
A highly qualified workforce utilising
modern equipment and working
practices will remain key to our
continued success.
A highly
and working
practices will
remain key to
our continued
Slit-rolled finished

This article was sponsored by Berwin Industrial Polymers. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng.

Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng

This year’s Parliamentary Review reflects on a tumultuous and extraordinary year, globally and nationally. As well as being an MP, I am a keen student of history, and I am conscious that 2020 would mark the end of an era. It will be remembered as the year in which we concluded Brexit negotiations and finally left the European Union. Above all, it will be remembered as the year of Covid-19.

In our fight against the pandemic, I am delighted that our vaccination programme is beginning to turn the tide – and I pay tribute to the British businesses, scientists and all those who have helped us to achieve this. But the virus has dealt enormous damage, and we now have a duty to rebuild our economy.

We must ensure that businesses are protected. We have made more than £350 billion available to that end, with grants, business rates relief and our furlough scheme supporting more than 11 million people and jobs in every corner of the country, maintaining livelihoods while easing the pressure on employers. The next step is to work with business to build back better and greener, putting the net zero carbon challenge at the heart of our recovery. This is a complex undertaking, but one which I hope will be recognised as a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Through the prime minister’s ten point plan for a green industrial revolution, we can level up every region of the UK, supporting 250,000 green jobs while we accelerate our progress towards net zero carbon emissions.

With our commitment to raise R&D spending to 2.4% of GDP and the creation of the Advanced Research & Invention Agency, we are empowering our fantastic researchers to take on groundbreaking research, delivering funding with flexibility and speed. With this approach, innovators will be able to work with our traditional industrial heartlands to explore new technologies, and design and manufacture the products on which the future will be built – ready for export around the globe.

And I believe trade will flourish. We are a leading nation in the fight against climate change. As the host of COP26 this year, we have an incredible opportunity to market our low-carbon products and expertise. Our departure from the EU gives us the chance to be a champion of truly global free trade; we have already signed trade deals with more than 60 countries around the world.

As we turn the page and leave 2020 behind, I am excited about the new chapter which Britain is now writing for itself, and for the opportunities which lie ahead of us.
Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy