Why our region has ‘can do’ attitude

Tees Business Digital Media Pack

After 30 years in business serving high-calibre industries, there’s one thing Malcolm Knott is certain of.

When it comes to the Tees Valley, there’s a ‘cando’ attitude that simply will not be beaten.

Any problem, any issue, any questions, says Malcolm, and the general answer is if we can help, we will – and invariably with the wide and deep-rooted skill set that exists within the North-East, we can find a solution.

And that’s what ITS all about – quite literally.

ITS, or to give the company its full title, Industrial Technology Systems, is on the brink of celebrating three decades designing, manufacturing and implementing complex control and management information systems for some of the world’s industry giants across sectors as diverse as chemical processing to nuclear to pharmaceuticals to aviation.

In technical terms, the Middlesbrough-based firm describes itself as an “independent automation systems integrator, designing real time information displays to improve the performance of manufacturing.”

In layman’s terms, that can mean a very varied, specialist and often sensitive workload.

ITS’ systems span the world with projects in Japan, the United States, China and India as well as Northern Europe and throughout the UK, serving a client list that includes the likes of AstraZeneca, Sellafield, Venator, SABIC, Lucite and GSK to name but a few.

Recent projects have included the design and implementation of a system that improves the performance of baggage handling systems at Gatwick Airport, the busiest single runway airport in the world.

ITS has also designed and installed systems to maximise the efficiency of the new Natural baby bottle line produced by Philips Avent; traceability systems for pharmaceuticals from raw materials to finished tablets, syringes and liquids; a solution for a major food industry manufacturer to ensure trays of food jars reach retailers without any mistakes – and that’s not to mention process systems that keep workers on plants around the world safe as well as improving efficiency and monitoring.

All from an unassuming office on Riverside Park in Middlesbrough where MD Malcolm and his team of specialist engineers and solution finders work their magic.

“ITS has been running for 30 years this October and it is rare for a business like ours to be around for that long,” says Malcolm.

“At the moment, we are investing in a programme of scaling up to equip all of our staff with responsibility and knowledge to drive the quality of the company forward and ultimately to see productivity increase.

“We are very much about our customers and looking to see what else we can do for them, where we can move forward and better ways to help them.

“80% of our business comes through repeat business, recommendations and word of mouth and that’s part of what we are trying to drive through with new customers.”

Malcolm, a chemical engineer by trade, was ICI-trained and launched

ITS with the aim of providing a “one-stop-shop” for management information and process control systems. It quickly evolved to offer vision systems, technical and regulatory training services as well as regulatory compliance services and project management and engineering services.

It has always been customer demand-driven with a desire to provide solutions for whatever is asked.

That, in part, is what drives Malcom – and still fires him up.

“Teesside is seen as an industrial area, things have changed from the days of ICI, British Steel and yet the basics are the same,” he says.

“What I love about the area is that it has always had that ‘can-do’ attitude. Whatever it is, Teesside can do it.”

ICI and the like paved the way for a skilled workforce with a wide base knowledge and companies like ITS have built on that and are driving innovative industry solutions forwards.

“When I first started out as an apprentice, our department’s job was to take processes and improve them and that gave me a drive to look for better ways to do that – it still fires me up today,” he adds.

As for the future, the upscaling programme at ITS is in full swing and proving successful. The team are constantly looking for new ways they can serve their customers – data, how it is managed, stored and displayed is just one of them.

So, as they say, watch this cyberspace.

Industrial Technology Systems, ITS House, High Force Road, Riverside Park, Middlesbrough TS2 1RH | its-ltd.co.uk