Judson sat down in front of MGS logo

MGS announces senior appointment ahead of growth


Judson Smythe has been appointed to the board of directors at Lancashire-based moulding specialist MGS Technical Plastics as it plans its next stage of growth. Judson joined the company in the summer of 2016 and has now joined the board as Technical Director.

The 32-year-old brought international experience to the role, joining MGS from the Jasco Group in Durban, South Africa, where he was an Engineering Manager working with 50 injection moulding machines and a workforce of 250. He was previously an Apprentice Tool and Die maker, and later read Industrial Engineering at Durban University of Technology.

Now he will play an integral role in MGS’s bid to reach £10m turnover. He will oversee the technical capacity of factory operations and hold responsibility for tooling and new product introductions.

Since moving to its Blackburn home in a major £2m project, MGS has invested heavily in upgrading and adding to its equipment. The most recent purchase is a KraussMaffei KM900 dual platen machine with a 900-tonne capacity at a cost of £530,000. MGS has also invested a five-figure sum in Thingtrax, which uses the Internet of Things to monitor production around the clock and identify inefficiencies in production processes.

Judson said: “This is the most exciting time in the company’s history and I’m delighted to have the opportunity to play a role in taking it to the next level.

“With modifications to the factory and significant investment in new equipment, we have strong foundations on which we can build towards our ambitious growth targets.”

John Sturgess, Director at MGS said: “The most important resource for our company is the people we employ. Our skills, expertise and customer-first approach put us ahead of the competition.

“Judson is a shining example of what we’re all about. He is a great addition to our management team and we’re sure he’ll play a valuable role in our growth over the coming years.”

Written by Amanda Jackson, TigerFish PR


Charity Knockout for MGS

The MGS team took part in an “It’s a Knockout” Event at the weekend, based on the hit tv programme from the 70s.

The event was to raise money for Theo’s Warriors, a local charity dedicated to the support and treatment of children with cancer. The team, consisting of members from across MGS, got stuck into completing the 5 challenges and had a great day participating against the other 8 teams. The MGS Team ended up finishing fourth overall.

Shortlisted for 2 Awards at the NAA Awards

We are pleased to announce MGS Technical Plastics have been shortlisted for the People & Skills and Manufacturing Excellence Awards at the Northern Automotive Alliance Awards 2018. It is a testament to the MGS Team to be recognised for the two awards, and is a great opportunity to celebrate our successes and progress in these fields. Team MGS are looking forward to finding out the result at the Awards Dinner on the 8th November.

The NAA Awards are hosted by the Northern Automotive Alliance. The Northern Automotive Alliance is an independent body based in the north west of England supporting Automotive Companies, from micro businesses to large vehicle manufacturers, using its established network.

Northern Automotive Alliance Logo

View of the MGS factory

MGS harnesses ‘Internet of Things’ to improve efficiency

Plastic injection moulding specialist MGS Technical Plastics has invested a five-figure sum in a new system which will allow it to more closely monitor its production facilities to improve efficiency and reduce costs.

MGS has installed Thingtrax at its Blackburn, Lancashire, site to monitor machines and processes around the clock.

Utilising the Internet of Things to oversee and report on productivity, downtime and processes, MGS employees can log in via any computer, smartphone or tablet to view up-to-the-minute information.

The data helps identify which machines are due maintenance, and when production schedules allow for work to be carried out. Reports can also locate inefficiencies to be corrected, and help plan projects to make the best use of the factory’s resources.

The tool is more commonly used by engineering firms much larger than MGS, and the investment is a key part of the company’s long-term goal to reach £10m annual turnover.

Judson Smythe, Technical Director at MGS, said: “Not many companies our size employ monitoring systems this advanced, but we have big ambitions and this exciting new piece of technology will help us achieve our goals.

“The key benefit will be a more seamless production process and eliminating unplanned downtown. As well as reducing day-to-day costs, it will make us more efficient and improve our ability to deliver projects for customers in shorter time frames.

Judson added: “ThingTrax is a new and exciting start-up that is disrupting the machine monitoring market and we’re excited to have their tools in our hands.”

Written by Amanda Jackson, TigerFish PR


Training 2000 Representative with the two mgs apprentices sat around a table

MGS appoints Three New Apprentices

Blackburn-based MGS Technical Plastics is investing in the future with the appointment of three new apprentices. Manufacturing director Neil Garrity says that training young adults is not only essential for the UK to continue its manufacturing excellence, but that MGS’s apprenticeship programme has paid for itself ten times over.

The three apprentices at the injection moulding specialist are: Steven Hyde, toolroom trainee; Dillon Tennant, electrician apprentice; and Michael Critchley, trainee technician. As well as learning their job by getting hands-on at MGS, Steven and Dillon will also study for Level 3 Diplomas in Advanced Manufacturing Engineering with the College of West Anglia, which offers specialist injection moulding machine related courses, in partnership with Training 2000, based in MGS’s hometown. Michael will soon begin onsite training with Solution 4 Polymers in partnership with College of West Anglia.

The new trio takes the number of apprentices trained by MGS to six in the last five years, as the growing company aims to reach £10m annual turnover. Following a multimillion relocation to its current headquarters in the last decade, the firm has invested an additional £2m on property, machinery, staff and training.

Neil Garrity said: “Apprenticeships have proven to be very valuable to the individual, us as an employer, and the manufacturing industry as a whole. It is a great way to find and develop the fresh talent that our sector so badly needs.”

Neil says that a lack of companies offering apprenticeships over the last two decades has left the UK short on skilled workers, which could eventually hurt the country’s position as a world-leader in the field. And he says there is a very strong business case for employers to make the most of apprenticeship schemes.

Neil added: “There is always the risk that you train an individual who then goes on to work for another business, but despite that our apprenticeship programme has paid for itself ten times over. “Businesses that don’t take on apprentices are the dinosaurs of the sector and are hurting their own prospects as well as the industry as a whole.”

“Apprenticeships are also a great proposition for our trainees,” he said. “We give individuals a chance to shine, and the ones who show initiative get plenty of opportunities to develop their careers.”

Written by Amanda Jackson, TigerFish PR


Is Green the New Black?

Is Green the New Black?

I’ll take whatever colour you have, as long as it’s green.

Understandably, given the popularity of David Attenborough’s programmes and the awful scenes shown almost daily on the news, there is massive public concern surrounding synthetic plastics.
Wrongly, the media, government and charities such as Greenpeace often miss the vital ‘single-use’ and ‘waste disposal’ out of their attacks on plastic, leading to widespread misconceptions – surrounding plastics in general – in the public consciousness.

I came across a brilliant example of the inconsistency, ignorance and hypocrisy shown in the opinions of many who are ‘against plastics’ when I was skiing in Scotland in February this year.
I found myself on a T-bar lift (nobody’s favourite) on my way to the summit of Nevis Range, itching to drop into the Back Corries. I was sharing this T-bar with an off-duty instructor.
After the usual grunted greetings, the conversation went as follows.

Instructor: So, what do you do for work?
Me: I work in procurement for a plastic injection moulding company.
Instructor: Ah, contributing to the destruction of the environment, then?
Me: I don’t think so, really…

Tutting followed, with an insistence that plastics are ‘bad’.
This is a bloke who was wearing a helmet with a polypropylene shell and an expanded polystyrene inner, clothes made from nylon and/or polyethylene, goggles made from polypropylene and polycarbonate, boots made from some form of polyurethane, and skis with nylon top sheets and UHMWPE bases. I couldn’t be bothered to stand and discuss it further as we were at the next lift (thankfully, a one man drag). Off I went.


“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”

It seems the public love attacking the plastics industry when such issues arise, as it somehow absolves them of all responsibility – in their heads, at least.
We are an easy target in a way, as anything said by industry experts can be twisted as propaganda by short sighted opposing interests; which seems insane, given it is industry experts who are best placed to advise government and think tanks on how to adapt industry standards on disposal and recycling into common practice for the whole population.

As with anything, most are happy to sit on their hands and wait for someone else to sort the problem, but often find changing their own habits the most difficult part, yet it is – without a doubt – a change in the behaviour of the public that will solve the issues we face.


It’s difficult to know what people mean when they use the word ‘green’, although it is fair to assume that most people will be referring to either: polymers from renewable sources, polymers that are biodegradable, or polymers that are easily recyclable.
What if we extend that meaning? It could be argued that plastic car parts moulded in polymer grades from non-renewable sources, are ‘greener’ than a plastic bottle that is made from a polymer from a renewable source.
Less energy is used to make plastic parts than is used to make steel or aluminium equivalents; they are less dense, so require less energy to transport and help to increase the energy efficiency of the vehicle on which they end up; they are likely to remain on the car for a number of years (average age of cars in the UK in 2015 was 7.8 years); the polymers used are relatively easy to recycle, and with advancing technology will be even more so by the end of the car’s lifetime.

The plastic bottle made out of a polymer grade from a renewable source (bio-PET, for example), on the other hand, is just as likely to end up in the sea, at the side of the road, or left in some woodland as an equivalent made from a non-renewable source. It will not biodegrade or degrade physically any faster than an equivalent made from petro-PET. It is still PET.
You also have to consider the potential for deforestation – and the threat to animals that also entails – when proposing that large swathes of land are used for growing crops from which these polymers are derived.

What about biodegradable polymers?

They do exist, but you have to be careful when looking at their properties. Obviously, if you want an item to last longer than 6 months, truly biodegradable plastics are out – which removes them from consideration for food packaging and most medical applications.

There are some polymers that are claimed to be biodegradable by their manufacturers that will last longer than 6 months and offer similar properties to traditional polymer grades, but it’s important to look at the properties of these grades before specifying them for a project for their ‘green’ credentials. BioPBS – increasingly used to make disposable hot drinks cups – for example, will not start to break down unless it is in a compost environment at 30oC, meaning they will not break down in ‘normal’ conditions, i.e. in oceans, forests, beaches, etc.
Biodegradable? I’ll let you decide.

There are also grades marketed as being oxo-degradable. The problem with many of these grades is that they do not fully degrade, they fragment into small pieces of a similar size as (recently banned) microbeads, which can eventually find their way into watercourses.

Is ‘single-use’ the end of the world?

In my opinion, no. Single-use plastics are used in medical applications, for barrier packaging in the food industry, for the transport of hazardous materials, and many other sectors. The alternatives to single-use plastics require more energy in every aspect of their lifecycles; from the extraction of raw materials, all the way through to the point at which they are destroyed or recycled.

I’ve heard many raise the ‘Why aren’t the government doing something about it?’ question.
They are, to an extent. However, there should be more thoughtful, less knee-jerk legislation on a national and international scale, more education and more encouragement.
If we want to see change, such as a reduction in the amount of plastic going to landfill or ending up in our oceans, we must change the way we dispose of single use items. How often do LDPE food trays, ketchup bottles and shampoo bottles still end up with general waste to go to landfill?
The ‘it’s not my job’ attitude will not work. In my opinion, governments shouldn’t have to spend more money on waste sorting centres because the population is too lazy to act on something they supposedly care about.

We are a nation of (mainly) free-thinking, autonomous individuals.
If we don’t take responsibility and change our behaviour, the only answer will be to implement more/higher taxes somewhere. Who’s cool with that?

Repro Grades and Recycling

OEMs and Tier 1 moulders are increasingly specifying repro grades, or allowing a certain percentage of a repro material to be fed into the production of new components – a good example of this would be for non-visible parts in the automotive industry. More work is yet to be done; however, as an industry, we are making progress.
There are complexities to this approach. It requires close partnerships and trust throughout the supply chain to ensure everyone is taking the right steps to assure product integrity, which in turn requires a level of skill and professionalism that may not have been present in most trade moulders of the past. Through our hard work and determination, we are well equipped for this.

We already use a reasonable amount of repro ABS for one of the projects we run, and would love the opportunity to use repro grades of other polymers. We often offer them as alternative grades when working with customers on new projects, it may be the case that a repro material won’t be the grade that offers the most ‘impressive’ specs. on its technical data sheet, but if it’s fit for purpose and offers increased value for the customer, it could be the best material for the job.

As for recycling, we have been working with a plastic recycling company (Indigo Environmental Group) in order to see what we can do to improve our performance. They already have ties with many T1 automotive manufacturers and food packaging companies, and were able to offer an ‘off the shelf’ package which we will be trialling in the very near future.

Plastic: we’d be in the shit without it.

We rely on plastics. They are the best materials for almost every product and application they are currently used for.
The plastics industry is the second largest direct employer within UK manufacturing, but is also a massive indirect employer. Plastic parts are used throughout food and drinks industry (the UK’s largest manufacturing employer), the automotive industry (3rd), the defence industry (4th), furniture and furnishings (the 5th largest)… The list goes on, but you get the picture.
Plastics are also in the top 10 of the UK’s exports.

If public apathy was to cause a move from plastics to less suitable and less environmentally friendly alternatives, the result for the UK’s economy – and the world in general – would be disastrous.

Written by Nathan Sturgess

Check out his Linkedin

Employees at training

Recent training and its role at MGS

This past month has involved a lot of training for Employees, which is usual for MGS. However, this time there was more of a focus on developing towards our Quality Standards. Our first lot of training focused on IATF 16949 Internal Audit training. This involved our employees completing a 2-day course to ensure we are IATF ready throughout the year. The second involved a team learning more about HACCP and Hazard and Risk Management for a day and the second day for Internal Audit Training. Both days in preparation for a BRC audit to become accredited in a couple of months. Overall, our employees gained 15 more certificates at the completion of this training.

Training at MGS

It can be easily said training is a very important aspect at MGS; we want our employees to have the knowledge that will allow them to excel in their job role. The opportunities we provide our employees will allow us to reap the rewards in the future. We already have a vast number of employees currently in further education, involved in college courses, training days and apprenticeships to name a few. This means there is always a range of training available for employees to take advantage of throughout the year. Also, being in the manufacturing industry and the looming skill gap, we want to ensure we can develop and retain the skills we need to succeed and grow. We see the developments we are making as a long term investment in our employees and for ourselves.

A quote to remember:

‘What if we train them and they leave? What if we don’t and they stay?’

Non-contact 3D scanning arm puts MGS ahead of the competition

Blackburn-based plastic injection moulding specialist MGS Technical Plastics has boostedits 3D measuring capabilities with a new non-contact scanning arm.

The Faro ScanArm is the most accurate measuring tool in its field, and allows delicate and complex objects to be inspected and reverse engineered at an unparalleled level of detail. The tool is a £28,000 addition to the £50,000 Faro Edge ScanArm HD, which the company purchased in December 2015.

The equipment features a highly accurate blue light probe, which is 50 per cent more precise than a standard red laser. It utilises shorter wavelength to scan in higher resolution, delivering more accurate results and reducing speckle noise.

Its seven-axis movement facilitates both contact and non-contact collection of large amounts of data with maximum accuracy and efficiency. Mark Boardman, quality manager, explained: “The Faro ScanArm is at the forefront of 3D measuring technology and will enable us to do rapid assessment of process improvements and also facilitate reverse engineering and rapid comparisons to CAD.

“The contactless element allows us to work with even the most delicate parts. It greatly improves our inspection and measurement capability of both components and tooling, and has already made a big difference to the turnaround time of projects.”

Mark added: “We have purchased hundreds of thousands of pounds of brand new, highly advanced machinery over the last couple of years to keep our organisation ahead of the competition. This new measuring arm is a good investment for us, because our customers trust us to deliver cutting-edge capabilities.”

Written by Amanda Jackson, TigerFish PR


MGS rewarded for engineering excellence

Plastic injection moulding specialist MGS Technical Plastics has been crowned the best engineering firm in its home county of Lancashire.

The award win caps an impressive year which saw more than £1m invested in new property, machinery and staff development.

The Blackburn-based business was selected above all other engineering companies – many also demonstrating success on a national and international level. The team collected its trophy in front of an audience of 1,100 guests.

To win the award, MGS made a presentation to a panel of judges, who ranked entrants on company growth, innovation, community relations and overall commercial success. With 20 per cent year-on year growth, a successful multi-million-pound expansion and relocation, and a string of projects benefiting local residents including sponsoring local awards, the judges opted to grant the award to MGS.

The judging panel was also impressed by MGS’s extensive range of technical equipment, including industry-leading 3D printers, laser scanners and 20 machines ranging from 35 to 800 tonnes. MGS also recently purchased a £28,000 non-contact high-definition scanning arm to drive forward the quality and capability of its services.

As well as triumphing in the Best Engineering Company category, MGS also made the final shortlist for Best Manufacturing Company, the Growing Business Award and the Customer Service Award.
John Sturgess, director of MGS Technical Plastics, said: “It is immensely rewarding to have been presented this award by our peers.”

“Lancashire has long been considered the home of British engineering, so to win this award right in our industry’s heartland – and ahead of so many fantastic businesses – is really an incredible achievement.”

The Red Rose Awards were held at Blackpool’s iconic Winter Gardens on March 9, with 1,100 guests in attendance. Businesses from the length and breadth of the county vied for titles across a range of categories, with only the best of the best, as selected by a panel of expert judges being rewarded for their excellence.

Event founder Richard Slater said: “The Red Rose Awards are very hotly contested, so MGS Technical Plastics should be very proud that they have seen off all the competition.”

Written by Amanda Jackson, TigerFish PR


MGS invests £530k in biggest machinery yet

MGS Technical Plastics has invested £530,000 in its biggest machine to date.

The KraussMaffei KM900 is a dual platen machine with a 900 tonne capacity, allowing the Blackburn-based plastic injection moulding specialist to work with bigger parts than ever before.

The new purchase is scheduled for delivery in August. It replaces MGS’s 800 tonne model, bringing increased capacity, efficiency and quality levels. The KM900 is more efficient than previous equipment, with a short dry cycle time of just 2.3 seconds.

It is the latest investment in the company’s bid to reach £10m annual turnover. Following a multimillion relocation to its current headquarters in the last decade, the firm has invested almost £2m more on property, machinery, staff and training.

Mark Boardman, quality manager, said: “We chose the KM900 as the next piece of our continuous improvement strategy as it will immediately assist our delivery of a large-scale project we are currently undertaking for a tier one automotive supplier.

“This addition to our factory gives us extra capacity and a shorter turnaround. The KM900 is ideal for our needs as it helps meet critical lead time challenges, and it also gives us the ability to manufacture larger parts than before.”

Written by Amanda Jackson, TigerFish PR