HISTORY OF BIRKBYs


1995 Birkbys Scotland Opens
An important strategic decision was made to fully support the Scottish Business Electronic markets by opening a sister site to the historic Liversedge site. The initial part of this strategy was completed in 1995 with the opening of a 4500sq metres purpose built factory in Glenrothes, Fife.

1990 Marubeni and Birkbys
The Marubeni Corporation, one of the largest trading companies in the world succeeded in buying Birkbys. The investments made since this time have been substantial. More than a dozen new injection moulding machines were added extending the press range to 1800t. Extensive investments in Computer Aided Design (CAD),new assembly lines and water based painting systems were made and we now have 28,000 sq. metres of covered site at Liversedge. 

1989 GEC - Siemens
By 1989 Plessey, Birkbys Parent Company lost their fight against take over from the combined GEC - Siemens company. The take over of Plessey had to be ratified by the European Commission, splitting up various divisions so that neither GEC or Siemens had a monopoly in Defence, Avionics, Telecommunications or Electronics. Birkbys Plastics fitted into neither company strategy and GEC decided to put Birkbys Plastics up for Sale once more. 

1983-4 Re-focusing - major investment
During this period the company refocussed the business direction. Major investments were made in plant and machinery.
Birkbys further developed the relationship with Ford, who were at that time reducing their suppliers. Birkbys obtained all Ford instrumentation business- Clusters, Backplates, Clear Lenses, together with all the dial parts. During the latter part of the 1980's Birkbys were providing up to 8500 sets of cluster parts daily.

The success of the Ford Birkbys relationship was due to a positive attitude from both companies to succeed. Birkbys investment in new presses, cleaner working areas and the introduction of Statistical Process Control, eventually across the whole factory, was rewarded by the increase in business and Q1 status was achieved.

In 1984 further extensions were made to the production facilities, toolroom and a new technology centre was created. This latter building, besides housing the Laboratory and Metrology Department, was equipped with the first plastic injection moulding Computer Aided Design facility in the UK. Birkbys were at the forefront of development not only in Europe but Worldwide. Ford invited Birkbys to design an Accelerator Pedal in Plastic - prototype samples were produced in 12 weeks, and at the 1990 interplas Show the design won a major design award. This business developed across a range of cars and over 25 million pedals have been produced.

1980-2 Big change at Birkbys
Due to the economic depression Plessey needed to rationalise a number of their businesses particularly those outside their core markets of Defense, Electronics, and Avionics.

1975 Reverting back to Birkbys Plastics
Plessey decided to buyout Birkby Viking Ltd. and revert back to Birkbys Plastics Ltd. During this time the Post Office business began to place large contracts.

1974 Closure of Theromoset Mouldings Department
The last link with the original Birkbys' involvement in Phenolics was cut when the Thermoset Moulding Shop was closed. This was due to Birkbys major customers change in requirements.

Before the Thermoset moulding Shop closed Birkbys engineers and The Post Office designed a Terminal Block which became known as the Test Jack. The Test Jack had 100 line positions, in the past the same area could only hold 40 lines. This was a tremendous breakthrough for the telephone exchanges. This product was hugely successful for over 10 years and was sold as far away Nigeria, Saudi Arabia and Hong Kong.

1972 Merger with Viking Industrial Plastics
Birkbys Viking Ltd. was created in July 1972, Plessey maintained their major shareholding. Birkbys business consisted predominantly of telephones and electrical appliances and some automotive business, Viking produced domestic appliances and leisure industries, products included record and speaker cabinets, bathroom fittings etc.
Shortly after the announcement of the merger a decision was made to close Vikings other plastics company at Broadstairs and move all business to the Liversedge site. This meant the business grew to 20,000 square metres with 125 thermoset presses and 80 thermo plastic presses.
Some of the new business had to be finished with paint and the old resin building was used to house a water backed paint spray booth, to enable Birkbys to use polyurethane paints. This paint facility would be further expanded on many occasions over the next 25 years.

1970 The end of Resin and Powders Department
During the 1970's the thermoplastics business began to eat in to the thermoset business. Although generally, engineering type thermoplastics were more expensive than thermoset materials, they could be processed far quicker and were more versatile with greater emphasis on the design to meet the requirement of the part, and the thermoplastic could be more economical.
Resin manufacture ceased in 1969 this was followed by the closure of the moulding department in 1973.

1961 The Plessey Era
Within three years of AT and E purchasing Birkbys, they were taken over by the Plessey Company. The Plessey Company made no changes to Birkbys and almost unknowing acquired a separate moulding facility as well as an established customer base.

The Plessey ownership was to last over 28 years and was to see the sales and turnover increase tenfold. The name Birkbys was dropped for a few years during the Plessey years but was soon brought back once it was realised it was too to well established in customer's minds.

1959 New Thermoplastic Moulding Shop
AT and E provided a new and purpose built thermoplastic injection shop of over 200 square metres.

1958 Purchase by A T and E
The Automatic Telephone and Electric Company a major customer since the 1930's took the opportunity to buy Birkbys Plastics during the 1950's.
AT &E provided a major investment which was required to support the rapidly growing telephone market and many other applications where the new thermoplastic material could be used. Although Birkbys Plastics Ltd. was at the forefront of this technology the cash injection was to provide new buildings and support for the future.

1930's The recognition of Plastics
Birkbys was a founder member of the British Plastic Moulding Trade Association.

1926 Formation of Birkbys Plastics Ltd
William Beiver Birkby and Thomas Beaumont Birkby created Birkbys Ltd with just two shares.  

 
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Last revised: December 19, 2010

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