How a forward-thinking strategy prepared automation systems integrator for the shock of lockdown

Tees Business. ITS Ltd have appointed a new N.E.D George Ritchie. 26-8-20 Pic Doug Moody Photography
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Keeping one eye fixed firmly on the future has served Malcolm Knott well.

The managing director of Middlesbrough-based Industrial Technology Systems (ITS) invested in “future-proofing” his business in a way that left it in perfect shape to cope with the shock of the lockdown and continue to serve its customers.

And now the leading independent automation systems integrator is continuing with its forward-thinking approach by appointing George Ritchie MBE as a non-executive director, in a move designed to support the government’s initiative to deliver highquality apprenticeships across the north.

George, who chairs and leads the North East Apprenticeship Ambassador Network (NEAAN), adds a wealth of skills, experience and knowledge at the highest level to the ITS team and will continue to drive the apprenticeship agenda in the region.

He is passionate about getting more employers and apprentices involved in sharing their experiences of how apprenticeships have changed lives and improved business performance.

George and the network are part of a national group that works as the employer voice with the government on developing and shaping apprenticeship policy.

“I was very proud to welcome George into ITS as a business with a heritage of providing apprenticeships opportunities,” says Malcolm.

“ITS is committed to the apprenticeship agenda, especially here in the North-East, and through our support to George.

“I believe we are an essential cog in the process industry supply chain, supporting the automation, control and data management across the whole sector.

“Our commitment to apprenticeships over our 29 years, including supporting NEAAN through George, demonstrates our support of people in the sector and our belief in the apprenticeship route to acquiring the skills the industry needs now and in the future.

“ITS is supporting George in his role as chair of the NEAAN because, quite simply, if we in the industry don’t get involved in driving the value of apprentices for our industry, who will?”

Malcolm believes his company’s proactive and positive response to the coronavirus crisis was a direct result of investing in future-proofing the culture of the organisation.

The company’s highly-skilled automation engineers continued to make themselves available to clients at a time when many competitors closed down their operations.

“The Let’s March initiative we have embedded has brought greater involvement of the staff in business activities and encourages openness and involvement in all who work at ITS,” he said.

“This does not just happen by luck. It has come from the board’s strategy and drive to make the company and its employees the best they can be.

“That helped us continue serving customers during lockdown and the team also added to its skills, knowledge and capability through courses in areas including new technologies and quality management.”

Customers now benefit from the introduction of no-fault delay payments for any hold-ups in projects caused by the company and its work.

All projects are delivered with no carbon footprint arising from its engineering design and implementation work and the company has added Zero Carbon Certification to its ISO 14000 registration.

Initiatives such as Industry 4.0 and the Internet of Things have also brought new opportunities through ITS supporting customers’ data analysis by providing expertise in process data analysis, quality management and process development, with statistical techniques such as Design of Experiments.

Using data management expertise linked to the support of data analysis through modern statistical software can also help ITS assist with process improvement, improved quality, reduced maintenance costs, lower energy usage and the ever more important reduction in carbon footprint.

“Engaging with ITS is not like dealing with your normal engineering contractor,” says Malcolm. “We know this because of the number of projects we pick up because others have failed.

“One of our key skills is ensuring that the client or their main contractor has clearly defined what users need.

“I believe many new engineering projects, revamps and existing operations would benefit from an ITS User Requirements Review before they spend their hardearned cash on designing a new solution.

“We have saved clients millions of pounds by ensuring they understand what they need – and sometimes, most importantly, what they don’t need. Many engineers do not do user definition often enough to retain the skills and the ITS team have supported many clients in these techniques.”

ITS specialises in design and implementation management information systems, process control systems, regulatory compliance services, project management and engineering services and vision systems to customers in process sectors such as pharmaceuticals, chemicals, polymers, bioprocessing and energy production.

For more information visit its-ltd.co.uk, email enquiries@its-ltd.co.uk or call 01642 222232.