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1000 not out for Fortress and UK-made metal detectors

By Joe Whitworth+

04-Jun-2014
Last updated on 04-Jun-2014 at 11:49 GMT

Fortress Technology (Europe) supplies 1000 metal detector
Fortress Technology (Europe) supplies 1000 metal detector

Fortress Technology (Europe) has supplied its 1000 detector this month from its UK site to the same firm that took delivery of the first one in January 2011.

Sparc Systems has been integrating the Phantom, and Stealth metal detectors into its range of checkweighing systems.

Local manufacture provided additional benefit of customising products to satisfy customer requirements, said Fortress.  

From 1 to 1000

Sarah Ketchin, managing director, said it started with the Phantom model and most of production is now Stealth.

“There have been some software enhancements and features which satisfy market demands as well as Fortress introducing a newer model,” she told FoodQualityNews.com.

“The Stealth is fully compatible with the Phantom so existing customers can upgrade and there is no issue of obsolescence. Spare parts fit all which is a major bonus when cost of ownership is high on the agenda.

“The Stealth model provides some additional interface capability as well as the ability to download data (performance, test and fault reporting) to USB.”

Fortress Technology’s European office moved from a 3,000 ft premises in 2010, which was the basis of its sales and support network, into a 10,500 ft factory to manufacture Phantom metal detectors which they had been importing from their parent in Toronto.

The firm said volume of sales made its Banbury manufacturing site a viable option and the UK offered several attractions.

When asked about customer demands, Ketchin said some of the software features were market and customer driven.

“They were required to satisfy additional fail safe requirements as specified by the major retailers, including Marks & Spencer, within their revised codes of practice for metal detection,” she said.

“They have all been about ensuring that the operators are immediately informed if any part of the system fails to operate correctly. In addition they include features to help the maintenance team identify failures before they happen [as] prevention is always the better route.”

The next challenge is to see how much more of the product range can be manufactured locally as some is imported to satisfy demand.

She said there are some ‘very special units’ that were not practical to manufacture in the UK due to demand and configuration but they may hit 95% next year from around 80% now.

Food industry metal detection demand

Fortress Technology also reported a 34% increase in sales turnover earlier this year.

The firm attributed the upward trend to the increasing demand for food industry metal detectors, positive response to training and support packages, and the ‘never obsolete’ machinery commitment.

Fortress said plans include on-going investment in the sales force and operating and production functions, and growing geographic footprint through an expanding distributor network.

Ketchin said current indications are positive for further growth this year, even if it is not as high.

“UK manufacture does help for the home market it is comforting for customers to be able to visit the manufacturer and see the product quality.

“I think such a level of growth will be difficult to match this year.”