Promoting the plastics industry

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A Knaresborough company has welcomed the district’s MP to its headquarters as part of a British Plastics Federation campaign to promote the manufacturing importance of its industry.

BNL (UK) Limited, which specialises in the design and manufacture of specialist plastic bearings and assemblies, presented an overview of the company and discussed the issues currently faced by the industry during the visit of Harrogate and Knaresborough MP Andrew Jones.

Mr Jones toured the Knaresborough factory, new technology centre and new product development centre with chief executive officer Derek Mansfield and EMEA sales manager Mark Watkins, who talked about the challenges and opportunities faced by BNL in the current business climate.

He also met one of BNL’s current apprentices and saw the investments recently made by the company in technology, processes and equipment to ensure its continuing innovation in plastic bearing design and manufacture.

BNL exports over 90 per cent of its products and has a diverse customer base that has allowed it to weather many of the storms experienced by manufacturing in recent years. In the past month, the company, which employs over 90 people at its base on Manse Lane, has seen contract successes in Asia and a growing interest in its technology from the European automotive industry.

“The key challenges for our industry are the accessibility of investment funding and maintaining our key manufacturing skills,” said Mr Mansfield.

“Our ability to develop and innovate relies on investment and growth for our business, as well as our customers’ businesses. The current economic situation is making this a challenge for us all. Another issue is the employment of a workforce with the correct skills, which in our experience is being hampered by transport access and high fuel costs, plus the bureaucracy associated with developing apprenticeships.”

Mr Jones said: “It is vital that companies like BNL are able to find employees with the right skills to help their business grow. Without business growth, the number of jobs, particularly for young people, will be limited.”

He added: “In Harrogate and Knaresborough, we are fortunate to have an unemployment rate where there has been a decrease in the figures every month this year. Companies like BNL are part of the vibrant mixed economy of the district which enables this record on employment to continue.”