Building Your Business
PLATO Companies visit BALCAS Factory in Enniskillen

18 June 2019

PLATO companies availed of two separate Site Tours during May and June to the Balcas Factory in Enniskillen as part of its 2018-19 Site Visit Programme.

The May tour was led by Brian Murphy CEO and PLATO Parent Company Leader and the June tour was led by their esteemed Technical Director, Andrew Kidney and BALCAS CFO, Keith Gallagher.

Balcas was originally established in 1962 as Ballycassidy Sawmills Limited. Balcas is one of Britain and Ireland’s largest wood product suppliers, with a turnover of circa £100 Million. The group has some 360 direct employees; in addition, 300 people are engaged in forest harvesting and haulage. Balcas operates from several sites. A Sawmill in Enniskillen and Combined Heat and Power plants in Enniskillen and Invergordon.

The Enniskillen Factory is spread across 40 acres. The early adopter success of round permaposts was one of Ballycassidy Sawmills first innovations. Over the years, there were multiple acquisitions of other companies locally and across the border demonstrating growth through acquisitions for small PLATO participant companies. In 2004, BALCAS commenced construction of its Combined Heat & Power (CHP) and brites manufacturing plant at Invergordon which was operating a year later. Some innovations to date have included EN Plus A1 status for brites, UC4 incised post product range, KOTA fully finished mouldings product range.

Since 2015, SHV Holdings a Dutch energy company is the major shareholder of BALCAS. The tour demonstrated the importance of Health and Safety, the company has received the prestigious Sword of Honour Health and Safety award on numerous occasions. The company has invested heavily in automation, technology for materials handling, machine vision – laser scanning and robotics. When operating in a low margin business, production costs and output are critical. The BALCAS team demonstrate well the importance of understanding the market, remaining objective and doing the rigorous testing, they were careful to point out there are positives and minuses to robots! Cobots where humans coexist with robots may be the answer.  Data management is also of critical importance to growth-oriented companies, real time information and developing control systems.

For further information and queries, please email to cecilia@platoebr.com

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