News

Girls in Engineering

‘Only 7% of parents would encourage their girl to pursue a career in engineering.’

This statement, which was put forward in a recent article, was the result of research conducted by the Institution of Engineering and Technology. The research also revealed that parents could be limiting their child’s future career decisions by having outdated perceptions of the jobs they believe male and females should be interested in.

Gordonstoun School Visit

Engineering sectors are crucial to the UK’s economy, supplying an estimated £455.6 billion to Gross Domestic Product in 2014. Additionally engineering sectors are estimated to employ 5.6 million of the UKs population which is the equivalent of 18.2%.

Regardless of STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) being the most popular subjects among girls, only 6% of our engineering workforce is female.

“STEM subjects for the backbone of the engineering industry and help it continue growing and innovating. We see clearly from this research that girls do have a genuine interest in these areas but this doesn’t translate to the number of women entering the engineering industry.” – William Webb, Institution of Engineering and Technology president.

Webb further states that there is a serious need for better engagement with young people, girls in particular, and their parents.

Northumbria Educational Visit

What must also be highlighted is that although there have been constant low numbers of girls engaging with a career in engineering in the UK, overall numbers of both girls and boys are beginning to decrease, causing concern and the need for additional research.

When asked what they knew about engineering, only 46% of children stated that they knew about the different careers and opportunities in the industry, leaving 54% saying they weren’t aware. Furthermore 41% of parents stated that if their children were to ask for advice regarding a career in engineering, they feel they wouldn’t know enough to support them. Both of these figures are even high with girls and their parents.

Because of this it is argued that perceptions must be changed of what modern engineering is all about and what it can offer future generations in terms of a career.

“As a community we need to overcome negative and/or outdated perceptions of engineering to encourage more young people to consider it as a career option” – Paul Jackson, Chief Executive of Engineering UK

Today there are various programme that have been put in place to increase awareness of the opportunities the engineering industry has to offer for young people.

Engineering a Better World is a campaign which looks to engage with parents and their children about the exciting career prospects within the industry. This programme gives parents both the information and the tools they need to support their child in becoming future engineers.

Alternatively a campaign known as WISE aims to promote women in science, technology and engineering careers and inspire women to study and build careers within those industries.

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At Omega Plastics we have always been avid believers in educating our future generations about the wealth of opportunities within our industry. Through creating a number of relationships with local schools, colleges and universities we have been able to provide educational factory visits, apprenticeships and student placements and next month we will be hosting our first Girls in Engineering visit.

The visit itself has been organised by the Hartlepool College of Further Education and the aim is to provide young girls with an insight into what a day in the life of an engineer entails.

Plastics in Medical

‘Modern healthcare would be impossible without plastic medical products’. Stated by Plastics Europe – Association of Plastics Manufacturers, they highlight how plastics are now one of the key materials used in medical manufacturing.

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Research shows that people are now living better and longer and it is argued that the versatility of today’s plastics that have allowed medical breakthroughs have had a great effect on this. In the past few decades, plastics have made healthcare simpler and less painful. With new techniques and prostheses, plastics have reduced contamination, relived pain and cut medical costs.

Many of today’s most advanced and simple medical techniques are reliant on the use of plastics, from hearing aids, to blood bags and even something as common as eyeglasses; which due to the incorporation of plastics into the frames and lenses, has helped reduce their weight yet increase overall safety.

Additionally medical packaging has advanced greatly due to plastic. With the introduction of child resistant caps, child safety has definitely been improved and was something we discussed in our previous news story The Future of Packaging.

When manufacturing products for the medical industry everything must be completely regulated, in particular those products that are used for human interaction and at Omega Plastics we have the advantage of using an ISO class 8 cleanroom. Made up of all-electric moulding machines, our cleanroom facility has helped us play a vital role in the developments and implementation of new and existing medical devices around the world.

One project working with Advanced Surgical Concepts saw the manufacture of the ASC Tri-Port and Quad-Port; a multi-access port used in laparoscopic surgery throughout the USA/Europe. After being approached by the company, Omega Plastics went on to develop a number of variants for the device as well as multi-cavity tools. You can read more about this project on our medical case study page.

If you would like to know more about the core services of our company please take a look at our services and core industry pages to see what else we can offer for a company like yours.

The Future of Packaging?

Traditionally companies have spent their time and money on the aesthetics of packaging – differentiating their product from the competition. Now however, company’s attention has turned to the consumer experience as well as supplier experience with the packaging.  To gain a wider understanding we have looked into some recent developments in the packaging industry in the attempt to understand what the future of packaging looks like.

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Shelf Ready Packaging (SRP)

A recent development in packaging has been shelf ready packaging. Hailed as the perfect method for brands to grab the attention of consumers, SRP is now more useful for the marketing of brands than ever before. Packaging company Smurfit Kappa has revealed that brands are missing a significant marketing opportunity by over-looking shelf ready packaging. SRP was originally developed in order to lower the cost of everyday logistics and tackle the time consuming issue of traditionally putting out the items on shelves individually. In recent research it was found that the right packaging for a brand can dramatically influence the sales outcome with the product being noticed by up to 76% more by consumers.

Child Resistant Packaging

A not so recent development in packaging is child resistant packaging. Although not as recent, child resistant packaging is still of high importance within the industry and research has highlighted that every minute of every day a poison control centre answers a call about a young child ingesting medicine. In fact in 2012 64,000 children were treated for medical poisoning. child-resistant-packaging The Poison Prevention Packaging Act 1970 states that the laws purpose is to protect children from serious illness resulting from handling, using or ingesting hazardous household substances. Additionally is requires that particular substances within the household are protected by child resistant packaging so that children under the age of 5 cannot easily access medication. Quoted by Didier Wittebolle, Belgian Packaging Institute Co-ordinator of child resistant packaging; it is difficult to understand just how much child resistant packaging has helped towards lowering the numbers of children being poisoned by medication however “there is no doubt that child resistant packagings have made a positive contribution hereto. “

The issue, however, then arises when the packaging itself becomes difficult to open for others, in particular the older demographic. It is now said that when companies are creating child resistant packaging there should also be guidelines in order to make the packaging senior friendly all the same. The difficulty is finding that balance.

A Millennial Perspective

In addition to all of these new breakthroughs with packaging there is another aspect that is also affecting companies within the industry.

In a recent write up from Danielle Peacock she talks about ‘Millennials’ being generations aged 18-34. She puts forward the idea that coming of age in the middle of a recession has had great impacts on the generation in terms of their delay in marriage, home buying and having children.  In addition millennials are known to be a lot more brand aware making them a lot more vocal and influential not only on their own purchasing habits but those of others also. So what exactly does this mean for the packaging industry?

The Millennial Perspective is now something companies have to consider heavily, not just with their packaging but with their whole company image and branding. eco_packaging_design According to a Boston Consulting Group article; Millennials want a two-way relationship with brands, something that they call the “reciprocity principle”. An article wrote in the InsidePackaging magazine argued that the next generation are now extending their values through their purchasing power. Therefore companies now need to extend their values through their packaging and brand in order to influence the Millennials who prefer companies that “do good”. This includes being socially and environmentally responsible. It is said that millennials like information and finding companies who have values matching their own, asking questions like; ‘Is the packaging recyclable?’ Does the company have a larger social benefit mission?’ Again, this gives companies something to consider when choosing their packaging.

The Future of Packaging

All of this contributes to the future of packaging and how the industry will develop moving forward.

Although every company may be different in terms of the products and packaging they produce, it could be argued that all share the theme of keeping up with what is needed within the industry, whether that be shelf ready packaging, child resistant packaging or packaging with a back story.

It is an industry constantly changing to provide the best for consumers and Omega Plastics are definitely a company that can help you with that.

Specialising in plastic injection moulding, with a wide range of capabilities and a well experienced team, we are confident that we can help you meet your plastic packaging needs and help get your product into the market place in a fast and efficient manner. You can read a lot more information regarding our service offerings on our services pages.

Meet Luke McMorris

Luke McMorris, a 17 year old electrical mechanical engineering student from Hartlepool College of Further Education joined our team for a one week student placement during half term.

Omega’s relationship with Hartlepool College of Further Education is a fairly new one but nevertheless is progressing fast. During a visit to the college in December we were able to have a tour of their excellent facilities.  Since then there have been various meetings with members of staff from the college, including the Business Development Manager Graham Plant, in order to develop our relationship further and have lead to the recent student placement with Luke McMorris.

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Luke joined us on the 16th February through to the 20th February during which he was able to gain an insight into all sides of our organisation here at Omega Plastics.

Luke’s week started off with an introduction to our company; our departments, products and services. He then spent the remainder of his week gaining hands on experience in all areas of our organisation including logistics, design and tooling, moulding and assembly.

Working alongside two of our toolmakers, Luke was able to perform CAD work and oversee the whole tooling process from design through to fitting. Additionally Luke was able to have an input on a customer’s tool trial and on his final day made his own custom made CAD drawing which allowed him to then engrave his name onto an aluminium riser using a 3-axis CNC machine.

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Luke, additionally, was able to work with our moulding team where he set up tools in the 500T press and learnt about the moulding process and product inspection with our Operations Manager Rob Gray.

Overall feedback from Luke proved the week was a success;

“I enjoyed my experience, settled in well and was made very welcome by all management and staff from day one. I loved working on the moulding side, putting the tools in the machines and shown how the products are made. I was also very interested in the tool making side which is something I am possibly going to go into as CAD is one of my favourite lessons as college” – Luke McMorris

The feedback when then responded to by Managing Director Dave Crone;

“It is heartening to hear that we have students who are genuinely interested in a career in engineering. We take great pride in the fact that we are fortunate enough to offer exciting opportunities to apprentices and graduates from University who are the next generation of engineers.”

Moving forward Omega Plastics are hoping to further develop the relationship with Hartlepool College of Further Education through additional student placements and potential apprenticeships.

As you may know through reading previous news stories, we here at Omega Plastics are big believers in educating future generations and have various plans in the coming months involving education.

Read more about our involvement with education.

Plastics in Automotive

“Increased use of plastics in automotive applications has been on a decades-long and incremental journey of greater acceptance.”

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While a recent article in Plastics News highlights the continued upsurge of plastics used within automotive manufacturing, here at Omega Plastics we are experiencing it first-hand.

The reasons behind the increased use of plastics may be plentiful, however Plastics News argue that the rise in federal mileage standards has been the main catalyst. Federal mileage standards are said to raise to 54.5 miles per gallon in 2025, therefore car manufacturers see lighter weight vehicles as one way to help boost fuel mileage consequently making plastics the preferred material in manufacturing.

Frank Macher, CEO of Continental Structural Plastics Inc. stated that;

“It’s an irreversible mandate that cars get lighter and cars get more efficient. The important thing is that we will never go backwards and light weighting will continue to be extremely important. “

Mentioned in a previous news story the UK is set to be manufacturing more than two million cars a year by 2017 proving that the car manufacturing industry is increasing within the UK at a steady pace. This has also been brought to light in a recent piece of news that Jaguar Land Rover is to create 1,300 UK jobs to build their new SUV.

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Furthermore Nissan has been ranked number one with regards to production in the UK, attracting a lot of positive attention to the North East from the manufacturing industry.

All of this puts UK plastic manufacturing companies in a great position due to the increased amount of plastics used within car manufacturing. This is backed up by Frank Macher, again, who states that;

“The future is challenging and I’m very, very confident that the plastic industry is in the best position it has been in many years to sees applications in the automotive industry come to fruition.”

As previously mentioned, Omega Plastics are experiencing the demand from the automotive market sector, so much so that we have recently invested in new machinery in order to cater more to automotive companies. Read more about our new machinery here.

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It is important for us at Omega Plastics to ensure that we keep on top of the industry through research and trade shows, hence why we are always investing in new machinery and equipment in order to meet the requests of our customers.

Why not take a look at our services video which highlights our services in 2 minutes.

 

Omega Plastics – New Year, New Machinery

‘New Year, new me’ is the phrase many people will be preaching this January and this year Omega Plastics are saying just that except for us it’s New Year, new machinery!

Over the past year, in particular the months running up to Christmas, we have invested in some of the latest technology and machinery in order to meet the needs of our customers. Additionally we have also increased our workforce in both our facilities which has added to the efficiency of our company.

Today the manufacturing industry is booming, in particular the automotive sector. As quoted in a previous news story, the automotive sector currently represents two thirds of the turnover for the manufacturing industry with annual turnover of £60bn.

With this in mind, on top of new developments throughout the manufacturing industry and different market sectors, we seen it a necessity that we invest in new machinery that can allow us to advance our capabilities and cater to wider markets, in particular the automotive sector.

500-1Therefore new machinery includes;

  • 500 tonnes Negri Bossi press

This is then assisted by a new

  • 3 axis Sytrama robot
  • Virgino PNL 6 conveyor belt
  • 500 tonne steel structure and chain hoist

We have also invested in a

  • Sumitomo Demag Intellect 100/250 – 340 smart electric press

This has been installed in our cleanroom facility in our Blyth headquarters.

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In addition to a large investment in machinery, we have also had an increase to our team here at Omega.

Norman Hoggett was appointed Technical Sales Manager in September 2014 after working for 14 years as a Tooling Specialist and Key Accounts Manager for Arrk Europe. Additionally, Norman has worked for D&S Mould repairs as a Plant Manager as well as a Technical Sales Manager for the Express Group.

Here at Omega Plastics, Norman works alongside our Business Development Managers and Group MD to aid the growth of the company. Working between both of our sites in Blyth and Hartlepool, Norman supports technical issues within the field of sales.

Another new member to our team is our Marketing Assistant Megan Carr.

Megan joined our team in July after being made aware of the position through Teesside University where she was completing her degree in Business Management with Marketing.

Her roles at Omega Plastics include supporting the sales & marketing function within the company, managing all email marketing campaigns and PR activities and engaging in Corporate Social Responsibility activities throughout the company.

All in all 2014 was an exciting year for Omega Plastics and there are many more exciting plans being put in place for the future so watch this space.

If you would like to read more information about our machinery and the services we offer why not take a look round our website and our services pages.

Alternatively why not take a look at our 2 minute promotional services video.

Sunshine Christmas at Omega Plastics

This year at Omega Plastics we are really getting into the Christmas spirit and on Friday 12th December we hosted our very first Christmas Jumper Day in aid of the Chronicle Sunshine Fund.

As Christmas comes upon us what better way to get into the festive spirit than a day dedicated to getting wrapped up in your favourite Christmas Jumper in aid of a well-known North East charity.

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By raising funds to provide specialised equipment to individuals, groups, registered organisations, special and mainstream schools and hospitals, The Chronicle Sunshine Fund aims to improve the lives of children with disabilities.

The charity was founded in 1928 by King George V after a trip to Newcastle-Upon-Tyne when he donated £15 to underprivileged children meaning they were able to take a day out to the coast. The Chronicle then adopted the idea of giving to children in the area and the Chronicle Sunshine Fund was established.

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Today their office is situated within Newcastle where they currently hire four members of staff and a number of volunteers. Additionally the charity has their own patrons who include the very famous and popular Ant and Dec!

Here at Omega Plastics we wanted to do our bit to make sure these amazing children and families have the Christmas they deserve and by taking part in a Christmas jumper day and raising money for the Chronicle Sunshine Fund.

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Even our dogs got involved…

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To find out more about the Chronicle Sunshine Charity follow the link to their website here.

And from all of us here at Omega Plastics have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Omega Raises £400 for Movember

As you may know, Omega Plastics took part in Movember 2014. Together six of our team groomed their own moustache throughout the month of Movember and what a great job they did!

To remind you Movember is a charity aimed at changing the face of men’s health, in particular, testicular cancer, prostate cancer and mental health. The charity is based around the idea of men growing a moustache to raise funds and more importantly awareness of the cause. So far the Movember charity has raised £346 million and it was hoped that this year would see a huge increase on this number.

For Omega Plastics we saw this as a great opportunity to give back to a well-known charity that raises money for such a great cause, as well as this is was great to see everyone working as a team to raise funds and grow their own moustache. Over the course of the month we have managed to raise over £400 and we would like to thank everyone who donated to our team. This is a fantastic amount for our first of many Movembers and we are now all very proud to be considered Mo Bros and part of the Mo Community.

Our team consisted of 6 Mo Bros based in our Hartlepool factory and below are pictures of our two winners; John Berry – Stores Co-ordinator and Martyn Musgrave – Tool Maker.

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Northumbria University Visit

Our previous news story highlighted importance of educating our future generations and engaging students in the engineering and manufacturing procedures and here at Omega Plastics we took part in our third educational visit/talk of the year.

On 18th November Omega Plastics invited 25 design students from Northumbria University to their Hartlepool facility to learn more about the industry that they could potentially be working in, in the future.

Northumbria University is well known for its successful design graduates including Apple’s Senior Vice President for Design, Sir Jonathan Ive, Rob Law MBE, inventor of the Trunki and Warren Trezevant, Product Manager at Autodesk Inc and former Animator with Disney Pixar and because of this, along with many other reasons, we were thrilled to create a relationship with such a respected University.

The 25 visiting students were mid-way through their 4 year sandwich course, Design for Industry BA (Hons) within which they not only take part in modules such as Industrial Design Practice and Design Communication, but they also have to embark on two placements in their second and third year within the industrial industry.

The visit started at 10:30am with an introduction to our team here within the Hartlepool facility and the company itself. At this stage the students were learning about what our company does, who we provide our services to and how each of our departments work together to create a customer’s final product. We felt this a crucial part of the day for the students to understand not only how our company works behind the scenes, but also for them to be aware of how an organisation runs in the hope that this will benefit them when going into their placement.

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The students spent around 60 minutes in our tooling bays with Norman Hoggett our Technical Sales Manager covering aspects such as:

  • Tool selection
  • 5 axis CNC machining technology
  • Wire erosion
  • Spark erosion
  • Engineering changes
  • CAD data

After understanding how injection mould tools are manufactured, the group were then passed onto our Operations Manager Rob Gray, to further understand the moulding side of the business and the production of products covering:

  • Anatomy of an injection moulding machine
  • Material Selection
  • Tool set up
  • Pressures and timescales
  • Cooling and temperature control
  • Semi-automated and automated production
  • Clean room manufacturing
  • Quality procedures

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Finally both groups came together for lunch and a final de-brief where they were given the opportunity to talk to different members of our team and ask any questions they had about our company or the processes that we carry out.

Overall the day was a success, the feedback we received from the students was positive and it was a great experience for all.

‘The visit to Omega Plastics was really interesting in many aspects. I learned from specialists about the different kinds of plastics, what can I create with them, how strong they are and how to manufacture it. Seeing the machines working and what’s behind of the whole process it was key to leave Omega Plastics with the feeling that now I can design with confidence and know that my products are manufacturable. I learned a lot with this visit and the great and pleasant guys that guided us through it. I can only say thank you.’ – Stephanie Romano, Northumbria University Design Student.

‘The visit to Omega Plastics was very interesting!! It was great to see how plastic is produced in real life. It also showed me a whole new area, tooling, which is something I barely thought of when thinking of manufacturing. Overall it was a great trip.’ Rob Newport, Northumbria University Design Student.

‘I really enjoyed the day, the fact they put lots of effort in to supply food and a personalised tour. It was great because it was a factory visit. I’d love to go for works experience and I learnt so much about plastics. Also I called them up the other day to ask about plastics and they were very helpful. All in all I had a great day and would defiantly advise anyone to go.’ –  Chris Reid, Northumbria University Design Student.

 

 

Educating Future Generations

Launched in 2013 by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), Tomorrow’s Engineer’s week celebrated its one year anniversary from the 3rd – 7th November 2014 inviting hundreds of engineering companies to get involved in encouraging and educating children about the engineering industry and just how much of an impact it has on our everyday lives.

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Stated in a recent article in the British Plastics and Rubber magazine, “the shortage of young talent and appropriately qualified manpower in the plastics industry has been all too apparent for a number of years now” which has led to Verity O’Keefe, Employment and Skills Policy Advisor at EEF, arguing that it is now vital we update and educate young people about the wealth of opportunities that are on offer within the engineering industry.

Tomorrow’s Engineers is aimed at inspiring the next generation of engineers through increased involvement and awareness of engineering activities in the hope of altering perceptions of engineering.

As people working in the engineering or manufacturing industry will know, the industry is booming. Again, an article in the British Plastics and Rubber magazine has stated has the UK manufacturing sector has had a great start to the final quarter of 2014, with rates of expansion in production and new business accelerating; it is a great industry to be involved in.

Here at Omega Plastics, we are no strangers to educating the future generation and we believe it is crucial that we do so. Over the past two years we have been involved in a number of educational visits and presentations that have allowed us to inform and educate students about the manufacturing and engineering industry.

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Earlier in the year Omega Plastics invited 18 product design students from Gordonstoun School to visit our Blyth facility. Their A-Level program required each of the students to understand the materials and various manufacturing and engineering processes used to produce commercial products and so the students spent their day with some of our experienced engineers as they gained a greater insight into tool-making and moulding processes that take place here at Omega Plastics. Read more on this story here.

Hosting educational visits is a great experience for everyone at Omega and we are hoping that our next visit from Northumbria University design students will be just as successful as our previous visits.