Pryor was awarded runner up in the Business Growth and Strategy category at the 2019 Make UK Manufacturing Awards, North East Yorkshire and Humberside.
For 170 years, Pryor has been a stable and successful manufacturer of marking and identification tools. During that time, Pryor has sustained a programme of investment in research and development to maintain its position as the leader of innovation within the sector.
In recent years, with increasing overseas competition, Pryor has worked to differentiate its products and set the industry standards in a new era of digital manufacturing. Pryor identified a niche where manufacturers in the process of investing in factory automation, connected manufacturing and flexible production systems, require a unique level of support, flexibility and innovation from a supplier. Pryor has an equally unique ability to deliver this blend of expertise and support from its historic headquarters in Sheffield where mechanical, software and electronic designers work alongside sales, technical support and production.
Over the past four years, Pryor has executed a growth strategy to become the global leader in advanced manufacturing solutions for industrial identification and traceability. The growth strategy has required a coordinated effort across the company, to upskill the design, assembly and sales teams, in addition to significant investment to access new markets.
The catalyst for growth came in 2013 when Pryor was approached by Jaguar Land Rover (JLR). The JLR production engineers were looking to introduce a quieter, more operator-friendly approach to Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) marking which could deliver greater flexibility on production lines and ensure each VIN consistently passed quality tests.
Pryor developed a bespoke, automated robotic laser VIN marking system for integration with JLR production lines. The high-powered laser engraves VIN on the chassis, engine and gearbox, to a depth of 0.5mm with an unprecedented reduction in cycle time. The project delivers a range of benefits to JLR, including a flexible system to accommodate several vehicle models on a single production line, without a reduction in line speed.
The fully automated system operates within a light-safe enclosure with a CCTV system to monitor and record multiple video streams. In the event of an issue being found with a vehicle at any point in its life-cycle, simply searching its unique VIN returns multiple camera angles of the process alongside a full data report of parameters and systems measurements.
The robot is not only mounted with a high-powered laser, it also features a cutting-edge vision system which automatically identifies the correct location of each VIN from a video image, moves the laser to the correct position and checks the quality of the mark using Optical Character Verification (OCV) technology. This innovative feature enables the customer to quality check 100% of vehicles and document the marking without additional processes.
Since the installation of the new laser VIN marking system, no vehicles have been rejected during customs checks due to poorly marked VIN. The impact of improved VIN quality is significant, since each finished vehicle scrapped, or returned to the UK for rework could cost the manufacturer between £20,000 and £60,000, with additional costs for those reworked during the production cycle.
Following the first project with JLR, the wealth of experience and technical expertise now contained within the Pryor team has qualified the company to design, build, install and support multiple robotic systems in both the automotive and aerospace industries, across the globe. The impact of this is Pryor’s highest ever turnover in 170 years of trading and has allowed Pryor to reclaim automotive market share from overseas competitors. Now, five years after its original launch, Pryor remains the only marking company in the world with experience of laser VIN marking systems.
The success of Pryor’s advanced manufacturing solutions has made a lasting impact on the business, with the creation of a new, Automation business unit. The unit is fully self-sustaining, with a dedicated team of sales engineers, designers, assembly team and, with the future in mind, apprentices from The AMRC Training Centre.
The Automation business unit has not only benefitted Pryor UK, having gained market share from competitors and repositioned the brand within the UK, it has also helped Pryor Technologie in France offer automated solutions to its customer base and recruit for the next generation of employees within the subsidiary.
The third, and most complex, element of Pryor’s growth strategy has been the establishment of a subsidiary in the USA. The success of Automation projects with US customers has been supported by recruiting and training US employees capable of selling and servicing Automation projects directly. The commitment and involvement from Pryor’s UK headquarters have been essential in ensuring the new US team is fully integrated in the group and have access to the technical resources they need to quickly become self-sustaining. With the completion and invoicing of the first Automation projects, the subsidiary moved to profit and was able to initiate its next phase of growth, recruiting for additional sales and technical expertise, bringing it to 7 employees in 2019.
Alastair Morris, Sales Director for Pryor says, “This has certainly been an incredible four years for Pryor. Being awarded runner up for Business Growth and Strategy by Make UK is recognition of the hard work and dedication of the Pryor team. We’re really proud of this achievement and look forward to another four years of sustainable growth.”
Find out more about Pryor's groundbreaking laser VIN marking project with Jaguar Land Rover here