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Tim Plunkett is in the HotSeat!

Nov 07, 2019


What trends do you think will shape the future of UK plastics?  How will Plunkett Associates respond?

The plastics industry is truly global, the costs and scale required make this a necessity, and yet we are in the middle of a very turbulent period in international trade. There are tariffs popping up monthly, and there is the huge question of leaving the EU and on what terms this will happen, plus increasing tensions on some of the major supply routes. Through all this we have to navigate a path that allows investment on multi year payback, provide security, continuity of supply and yet somehow retain a competitive edge! UK businesses certainly have their work cut out for them at the moment.

As for trends I suspect, and hope, that concern for the environment will continue to rise in people’s consciousness, leading to more localised production and a positive resurgence of UK manufacturing.

Automation I believe is the answer, and not only for the big multinationals; adoption by the smaller companies is key. Using flexible systems that can be applied to smaller batches than are currently considered feasible is just one route forward that Plunkett Associates are actively involved in and will certainly continue to develop.

How has Plunkett Associates developed during your tenure?

We started as a prototyping company, building on the experience and contacts established since the early 1990’s with 3D printing – although it was called Rapid Prototyping back then. Customers tended to be hooked on one process and we were able to open up the potential of what could truly be achieved. There were several gaps in the market, for example, clear parts and elastomeric parts which we sought to supply. 

As prototyping became ever more competitive we moved into low volume production and used the technologies at our disposal to meet increasing batch sizes. Somewhere around here we began to consume as many prototypes for ourselves as we supplied into the market. 

Today we can support clients from conceptual design, through prototyping and into manufacturing, be that tooling and moulding or something slightly less conventional! Needless to say the small home office is long gone and the perpetual battle for space and power (and car parking) is a daily headache!

What do you credit as the key to your success?

Call me old fashioned, but I believe that the customer should always come first! Therefore their requirements become the driving force for the business. We do whatever it takes to get the job done. When a customer commits to us, we commit to the customer and the most successful projects are built upon solid relationships.

We thrive on the challenges and the variety that comes through the door, both literally and on email! New employees usually comment after a few months that whilst we had promised variety in an interview they were stunned to see the scope of what we actually get up to. The company has grown now, its way passed just me, and it’s this ‘can do’ attitude that is the cornerstone of our approach.

Being told I can’t do something is like a red rag to a bull! We push boundaries, we ‘worry’ problems into submission; this is engineering and it is fun.

What has been the greatest challenge in your career?

Not knowing when to stop. I am a Capricorn and as such we are supposedly renown for climbing things. The time I am lost is when I reach a summit; happiness is identifying another summit that is higher!

What advice do you wish you’d had on entering the industry and does that differ from the advice you would give to an Apprentice joining now?

I got into engineering, as I was one of those ‘creators’ who loved building things. Luckily my father was an engineer so I had access to the tools from an early age. I have always enjoyed my work but it took a while to realise that this was not the case for everyone. No one told me to expect it, but I would advise anyone now, that if their work does not ‘give them something’ internally then they should keep looking until they find something that does. We spend enough hours at ‘work’ in our lives that it needs to be more than a source of income.

Be prepared to ask the ‘stupid’ question, whilst it might not reveal a solution, it could set in train a discussion that does.

Believe in yourself and your ability. Combined with an ‘everything is possible’ mentality, it will take you far.

What hidden talents do you have?

I can consume vast amounts of coffee, preferably espresso, without any noticeable side effects – including going cold turkey when there’s only instant around!

Otherwise very boring in this respect, sorry! I know what I don’t have, for example I certainly cannot sing and as a result run a mile from anything that might resemble karaoke! Plastikcity HotSeat

  • Plunkett Associates worked on the design and production of titanium frames for an artificial heart valve where precision and consistency was paramount. Communications were efficient and productive with concepts readily incorporated into the final design, and suggestions for improvements all highly appropriate. The quality of the end product was ideal and I have no doubt that I will use the advice and expertise of Plunkett Associates again.
    David Wheatley, Wheatley Research Ltd
  • “Doing business with you has been an absolute pleasure. You have made my goals a reality. You have been patient, helpful and above all, responsive. Best service that I have experienced in ages. I consider Plunkett Associates to be an integral part of my business plan moving forward.”
    Jet Cooper, Sculptor
  • Thanks for the present that arrived this morning, as promised. Parts look first class, as always.
    Jon Todd, Design Manager, PHS Group
  • Plunketts developed a solution that met our precision requirements at a cost significantly lower than alternative manufacturing approaches we had investigated
    Nick Skaer, CEO, Orthox Ltd
  • Plunkett Associates have excellent breadth of experience, work with high quality partners and have a flexibility that we have found enables challenges to be met successfully, cost effectively and in a timely manner.
    Nick Skaer, CEO, Orthox Ltd
  • Interestingly, people who look at it in its own right with little knowledge of what it does, just like it! It’s tactile and it looks good…
    Tim Collings, Operations Director, Troika Systems Ltd
  • To create such a consistent quality finish in chrome was an amazing achievement and the prototypes really gave our stand the wow factor.
    James Clark, Group Commercial Director, The Airdri Group
  • I can’t recommend Tim and his team highly enough. We ended up with a design which can be produced and assembled quickly, efficiently and reliably, in volumes that make sense
    Simon Leggett, Director, Olivewood Technology
  • Kirintec were thrilled with Plunketts. They made a complex process simple and we were just amazed at the lead times achieved. Plus, every single deadline was met without any drama.
    Penny While, Marketing Director, Kirintec
  • Plunkett Associates truly offer a complete turnkey solution with Speed, Effectiveness and Precision.
    David Harden, Director, Enica Ltd
  • Thanks to Plunkett Associates flexible, bespoke and cost effective service I was able to produce the objects that I had originally had in mind.
    Simon Ryder, Artist
  • Plunkett Associates have a fantastic supply chain, work with all sorts of production processes and will always do their utmost to solve a problem.
    Naim Audio
  • We always know exactly what we’re getting and we know we won’t be let down on quality, price or lead times.
    Mark Williams, Research and Development Director, Johnson Safety Products
  • "With their simple to understand language, willingness to go the extra mile and approachability, Plunkett Associates were a great partner for our company. We couldn’t be happier with the results of our project. (A working prototype that they got right first time, by the way). Thank you!"
    Carolina Ballon-Forrester, Director, Kittyrama Ltd
  • “We use Plunkett Associates because we want someone we can trust, that knows what they’re talking about, has all the contacts, will provide reliable advice and feedback and will get the right result for us.”
    Jim Copestick. Design Manager, Thorlux Lighting
  • “Accuracy, finish and delivery all first class.”
    Andrew Peters, JMDA Ltd
  • “We were really surprised at how quickly they turned round such a high quality prototype and the parts certainly proved their worth. They were of high enough quality to provide a fantastic visual representation and to undergo rigorous testing."
    Stuart Wilson, Design Director, TRT Lighting
  • "Tim's experience, expertise and supplier base have been fundamental to us getting this project off the ground."
    Sam Pearce, Jelly Products Ltd
  • Plunkett associates always find a solution. Whatever we need to prototype, they have a great grasp on the technologies available, costs and lead-times so we get the right solution tailored to the project needs. Have always delivered and never let us down.
    Naim Audio

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