Casting success rewarded


Leading UK aluminium die casting foundry, MRT Castings Ltd, has been honoured with a Queen’s Award for Enterprise in International Trade, for the second time in six years.

Following its previous award in 2016, the Andover based manufacturer has experienced a further period of exceptional growth in export sales.

MRT produces aluminium die castings and machined components for a wide range of UK and international customers. These components are used in applications as diverse as hi-fi equipment to supercars, and designer lighting to military control systems. One of the company’s largest markets is in medical devices, and in particular, critical care ventilators.

When the Covid-19 pandemic struck, hospitals around the world were in desperate need of additional ventilators to treat critically ill patients. Since 2014, MRT has worked with one of the world’s leading manufacturers of these ventilators, supplying 21 components in each unit. Prior to the pandemic, MRT produced approximately 4,000 kits of these precision engineered and finished components each year, but between April 2020 and March 2021, MRT dramatically scaled up operations to manufacture over 26,000 sets, enabling its customers to supply life-saving ventilators to every corner of the globe.

This year MRT celebrates its 75th Anniversary. The family-owned business was originally established in London, then relocated to its current production base in Hampshire in 1965. It has steadily expanded the scale and complexity of their production facilities over the years, and just prior to the pandemic, opened a new, purpose-built, state-of-the-art diecasting foundry to accommodate future growth.

The company wasn’t expecting to fill it quite so quickly, but with the challenge of rapidly scaling up operations to respond to the Covid-19 crisis, the business invested in additional two diecasting cells and seven additional CNC machining centres over just a few weeks. It added a second shift, and almost doubled the workforce, instantly transforming the new foundry into a hive of productivity and innovation. It is now one of the most technically advanced diecasting facilities in the UK.

The new foundry has been designed with digital manufacturing at the heart of its operations. As machines from the original facility were transferred into the new building, each was fully refurbished and upgraded to incorporate the latest robotic ancillary equipment, and full networking capabilities for data transfer and real-time monitoring. Indeed the facility itself was designed in partnership with the Manufacturing Technology Centre, utilizing 3D virtual reality representations of the building and the machinery to optimize the efficiency of the layout.

The investment has not been limited to MRT’s foundry operations though. The company’s extensive in-house machine shop now boasts 26 Brother high efficiency CNC machining centres, and three CNC turning centres, including a new Biglia 620YS installed just last month. All of the machines have been selected for their lightning speed, accuracy, flexibility, and one-hit machining capabilities for maximum productivity.

This impressive array of manufacturing technology has attracted an increasingly complex range of new projects from international and UK-based customers. MRT supports those projects with a collaborative design support service. In-house

Solidworks CAD and Magmasoft casting simulation capabilities complement MRT’s 75 years of engineering experience to ensure that component and tooling designs are optimised for the ultimate functionality, repeatability and productivity.

MRT's current export markets now cover Western Europe, Eastern Europe and North America. Overseas sales have grown by 437% over the past three years and the proportion of sales exported has increased to 85% of total sales.

Managing Director, Phil Rawnson, explained “A Queen’s Award for Enterprise is the ultimate accolade for a UK business, and to have won two just six years apart is testament to the relentless energy and enthusiasm of our team. To receive this honour during the company’s 75th anniversary year is particularly special.”