Oldham-based Ripple Group continue to invest into the future

Retail interior, display equipment and bespoke manufacturing specialist Ripple Group has invested over £200,000 in new advanced technology machinery for its joinery and engineering departments.

The new machines will significantly increase capability and enhance productivity across its facilities in Greater Manchester.

Oldham-based Ripple Group works across the UK and Europe with clients including many well-known brands and retailers in sectors including fashion, homewares, grocery, supermarkets, health and beauty, decorative products, electrical, DIY and builders’ merchants.

The group has installed a Biesse-Rover AFT2231 CNC nesting and routing machine at its Greenacres Road base.

This machine optimises use of materials and cuts and machines complex shapes and designs into virtually any timber-based or solid surface panel.

It can be programmed to work with mixed batches of materials, such as plywood, MDF, MFC or compact laminates and is fully automated. From full sheets it produces finished components ready for assembly.

With a footprint of 11.8 metres x 5.7 metres, the AFT2231 has an automatic scissor loading lift table with sensor-controlled panel alignment, and an automatic unloading conveyor belt simultaneously allowing the machine to unload whilst processing the next pane.

This reduces manufacturing down-time and increase efficiency. The CNC nesting element can work at a speed of up to 104 metres per minute, so is fast and efficient.

Another significant acquisition at Ripple is an Ermaksan Power-Bend Falcon 135-tonne press brake. This efficiently folds sheet steel and has great versatility for complex forms and accuracy.

It uses full 3D simulation to maximise the speed, quality and efficiency of press brake operations, improving manufacturing reliability and reducing manufacturing costs.

It has replaced an old EHT press brake which served Ripple well for 35 years.

The new press brake was operational within days of commissioning but a longer period of time was allocated to bring the Biesse CNC into operation and then optimum performance.

Investment in staff training for the new machinery also forms part of Ripple’s wider growth and investment programme where employee development is key.

The new machines will have a significant impact on Ripple Group’s manufacturing capacity and combine with other advanced machinery and the group’s highly-skilled workforce across its joinery, cabinet making, steel fabrication, paint finishing and powder coating departments.

Presently, Ripple has 26 staff including skilled joiners, cabinetmakers, machine operators, engineers, fabricators, welders, powder-coating and spray-painting technicians, creative and technical designers and a sales, marketing and logistics team.

Ripple Group founder and managing director David Wolfenden said, “The CNC machinery increases the efficiency and capacity in our factory. We use SolidWorks 3D modelling software to create manufacturing specifications which translate into programmes to operate the CNC systems.

“With more complex design we have the advantage of achieving a higher level of automation, which makes the processes more measurable whilst reducing the potential for errors and increasing productivity and cost-effectiveness across the business.”

Ripple offers a comprehensive end-to-end service, from design to manufacture, logistics and in-store installation. The group operates as ‘two companies, one team’, and in the trading names of Ripple and RED Manufacturing.

RED Manufacturing produces much of the finished products for Ripple and provides a trade manufacturing service making bespoke commercial furniture, architectural elements and a variety of components.

Despite a backdrop of uncertainty surrounding Brexit and changes in the retail sector, Ripple said it is growing strongly, diversifying into new sectors and investing in equipment, recruitment, staff skills and workplace facilities to continue to drive success and make it an exceptional place to work.

Ripple Group was awarded Investors in People Gold status in 2019. It said this status was testament to its exceptional ability to focus on its people and business performance, and is an extraordinary achievement for a business of such diversity.

The Investor in People Gold status recognises the company’s strong people development, innovation and continuous improvement.

A senior IIP assessor praised Ripple for being ‘one of the most-committed organisations to continuous improvement and employee-wellbeing’ he had assessed in 20 years.

Ripple Group has created its own unique employee reward-and-recognition scheme and enhanced production efficiency by 38 per cent in less than three years, whilst increasing profitability and investment.

The Group’s core business is the design and manufacture of retail display solutions for brands, retailers and merchants, in the past two years it has expanded into other sectors including commercial furniture, architectural features and bespoke equipment for spas and leisure amenities.

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