Shrewd Sheffield design engineers and manufacturing company are market leaders
31 May 2016
Photo: Left to right: Technical Director Ian Webster and Finance Director Angela Naylor taken at Webster Equipment, Holbrook, Halfway, Sheffield.
Sheffield-based Webster Technologies, a thriving family run business, has come a long way since it began developing cutting machines in the 1960’s for the coal mining industry.
With a solid reputation in mining, construction and utilities (sectors synonymous with South Yorkshire) Webster Technologies was the first firm to diversify in the 1990’s and use hydraulics for cutting in response to the declining mining industry .
Webster saw an opportunity to lead the market and changed their offer; designing products desirable to a wider range of industries and applications.
Ian Webster, Technical Director at Webster Technologies, said: “With the decline of the mining industry in the 1980s and 1990s we knew we had to diversify into other areas to survive. We had learnt a lot about cutting and it was important we didn’t lose the knowledge we had built over the years.
“So we applied our expertise to design and develop new and innovative products, providing solutions for different industries. We began working more closely with the construction, tunnelling and nuclear sectors, continuing to improve our range of Rockwheel cutting attachments which became our signature product.”
The excavator-mounted attachments have become a ‘go to’ tool on projects as diverse as underwater mining in the Maldives to tunnelling on the London Transport Crossrail Programme.
Three years ago, Webster Technologies, made the move to licence the manufacturing and responsibility for International Sales to its strategic partner in Germany, Rokla GmbH .
Ian continued: “This was the right decision for us. We have a great relationship and the quality of manufacturing is excellent. Through our dealer network, we have expanded our footprint internationally and our Rockwheels are sold in over 20 countries. More importantly, the change has enabled us to focus on the design and commercialisation of new products and to concentrate on the UK market.“
Cllr Leigh Bramall, Deputy Leader of Sheffield City Council & Cabinet Member for Business, and Economy said: “Webster Technologies are flying the flag for Sheffield’s design and advanced manufacturing capabilities. Through innovating technologies they have designed a product that has demand across the globe.
“This is a family run business that have become market leaders because of their ability to flex and diversify in a changing marketplace. The experience and talent within the team has propelled their product offering to an international audience who are using it in the mining, construction and tunnelling industries worldwide.
“Through the Council’s economic development agency; Creative Sheffield we work closely with businesses supporting them to grow and create jobs in the city. We’ve been working closely with Webster Technologies over the last three years and when companies like this succeed, it has wider economic benefits across the city and the region.”
Here in Sheffield Webster Technologies’ expertise is being use to improve the city’s transport system with the Supertram rail replacement programme, by profiling the tracks using a new cutting technique and specialist micro-trenching machine. In York, Webster play a key role in building the new fibre broadband network.
Ian Webster continued: “We first got involved in fibre to the home when we were asked to develop a cutting wheel for the first fibre project in Bournemouth. This led to us investing in a fleet of micro trenching cutting machines and work on the FTTH roll out in York led by a joint venture between City Fibre, Talk Talk and Sky. “
The cutting machines use bespoke blades, with machine adaptations, designed by Webster Technologies to cut a slot in the pavement. The fibre cable is then laid in the slot and connected to homes in the community. At up to 120 metres an hour the solution deployed by Webster is significantly faster than traditional methods and can dramatically cut the costs associated with these projects.
Ian continued: “With the help of a grant from the Technology Strategy board we have developed an idea for a new type of breaker - The Impactor. We introduced it at the worlds’ biggest construction show in Germany last month and received some great feedback. I really believe in the product, which we plan to launch at the end of 2016, and know it is completely different from anything already out there, so I’m excited for what’s ahead.”
Creative Sheffield, Sheffield City Council’s economic development arm, work directly with the private sector and political leaders in the city to grow the economy and create jobs. Businesses looking to grow can get free and confidential support from dedicated Growth Advisors with a wealth of experience and connections in their sector. Contact Business Sheffield on 0800 043 5522