Shepcote Engineering is probably the largest hydraulic cylinder manufacturer in the UK with over 25,000 sq ft of production floor with 50 tonnes lifting capability.
Despite that position, and having extended its services beyond the initial hydraulic cylinder repairs and general machining for local industries, it remains a small private company. With over 30 years experience Shepcote Engineering today provides hydraulic and engineering solutions to all industry sectors.
In 2001 the company took the opportunity to acquire a business that had for many years served Shepcote itself with machining solutions for some of the biggest types of cylinders in the UK. As a result of the acquisition the new owners began to establish many client based relationships with previous competitors, who themselves required the services for specific machining projects including deep-hole boring and honing of large tubes.
Combined with the expertise of an in-house designer with a proven track record in the special application cylinder market, the new look Shepcote Engineering was able to develop its foothold in the offshore oil and gas market, where equipment has always been of a significantly specialised level, manufactured to high standards. As a key sub-contract machinist, the acquisition of large turning lathes, the deep-hole borer, and honing equipment complemented one another ensuring the business was able to firmly strengthen its position. In fact, the business continues to invest in new machinery regularly, with investments including a 12-meter bed CNC lathe that was acquired in response to customer demand over recent years.
“As the search for oil and gas goes deeper, and pressures become heavier, ultimately pipe lengths and wall thicknesses of pipes become greater, and customers are attracted to our extensive capabilities,” says Robert Ketteringham, sales manager. The development of the company from a small general machine fabrication workshop to more specialised hydraulic cylinder and large capacity specialised machining has seen the business produce a range that includes riser joints, and various components for down-hole applications.
An example of the type of work, previously undertaken by the business, it supplied Dutch company Krohne Oil and Gas BV with large bore stainless steel pipe for installation at the Euroloop site in Rotterdam. Each piece of the 1120mm diameter material was bored, honed, turned and then drilled before sections were bolted together to form 11 metre lengths. The bores were then honed once more for even greater accuracy and fit over the assembled length. The finished sections were then shipped to Rotterdam where Shepcote engineers oversaw the final assembly. “It references exactly what we do for the oil and gas industry in a big way,” adds Robert.
“Our strengths are the physical size of the material that we are capable of machining, we have machines that can perform larger and longer than anyone else, we can produce hydraulic cylinders with bore sizes from 40mm to 1600mm and with strokes up to 25 metres, and by nature of it, we do specialised machining work,” points out Robert. As an engineering based organisation with unique equipment, there is a lack of skilled personnel available for direct employment. “As a result, we recruit and train through apprenticeships schemes and with two apprentices currently in the early stages of training, and another now studying towards a degree, the programme is proving successful,” he adds.
In recent times the business has become involved in renewable energy projects, producing hydraulic cylinders for use on tidal generators and to test the turbine blades on offshore windfarms, with the size of the hydraulic cylinders reflecting the large blades of the turbine.
With a huge degree of variation in projects today, there is often a piece of it that is outside existing manufacturers, or their regular subcontractor’s machining capabilities, inevitably promoting the company’s capabilities. “On any given day in any week, someone is wanting material machined to a custom size, and since becoming established with our large machines, progress has been ongoing. Both the subcontract machining and hydraulic cylinder sides of the business have been very busy since 2012, manufacturing and assembling deck handling and associated equipment for cable and pipe laying vessels, undertaking cable handling projects and supplying cylinders for launch and recovery systems on ships supplying to the market, and this work will continue to 2016,” he adds.
A strong market position holds the business in good stead for the future: “We respond to demand for projects, so it is hard to plan ahead, but of course our aim is to continue offering a good service, as that has proven our strength throughout our history. We are a small independent company, which gives us the freedom to react quickly to clients’ requests, so we are very used to helping people out of situations,” he concludes.
Services: Hydraulic cylinder manufacturing and specialist machining services