Issue 04 2011
The right fit
Whilst the pipeline fittings and flange market is dominated by companies producing bulk volumes of standardised products, for 40 years Linvic Engineering has occupied a much more specialist niche.
Catering for bespoke requirements including exotic materials, short lead times, and small batches, Linvic has built a reputation based on quality and reliable delivery times. Over the years the business has continued to grow as a supplier to the energy industry, particularly the subsea oil and gas market, but also other core sectors such as power stations and refineries. These activities are concentrated on two sectors – repair and maintenance, including planned upkeep, and new projects.
As managing director Peter Westwood notes, the core activities of the business extend far beyond its product portfolio: “Our real expertise lies in problem solving, so our offering is based more around a service than a specific product. We have tended to specialise in the more unusual and harder to source requirements of the market, which is the kind of thing bulk suppliers can’t handle as well. Alongside this, we do produce a range of standard flanges in a whole spread of different types, and various pipeline fittings, as these are the type of items that clients require quickly, and this is a need we aim to fulfil.”
Although its main office is based in the West Midlands, UK, Linvic has a global reach through its permanently located staff in the US, Brazil, and Malaysia. The company also works in partnership with agents in a variety of other countries, as well as maintaining a team of field sales people within its UK office that can be dispatched throughout the globe.
Given Linvic’s status as a problem solver, the company is often abreast of the latest developments within the market as clients look for a more specialist manufacturer to undertake these more challenging requirements: “If clients are trying out a new design, we may well be asked to manufacture these items as by their nature they are small runs of unique products. As a result we get involved in a number of bespoke items, which are pushing the boundaries of technology, and particularly, the material properties. In terms of harsher environments, we also undertake a lot of high pressure and high temperature work as these activities often require a more specialist solution,” describes Peter.
Recently Linvic has expanded its activities into supplying valves. This move was due to the general supply chain within the market, which within some areas of the world can become fragmented. “Obviously where there are local suppliers with a full range of valves there isn’t as much of a need for our services,” explains Peter. “However some clients have problems in getting the equipment they require within a certain timeframe. In these instances we can undertake the sourcing of these parts on a global basis, which takes the pressure off the client. Another area where we have responded to client demands is the supply of project kits, which incorporate all required parts such as the flange, gasket and bolts, as opposed to selling just the flange.”
With the volatile nature of the market clearly demonstrated by the conditions of recent years, reaching any sort of milestone, let alone 40 years, is a major achievement for any company. As such, Linvic is understandably keen to celebrate its 40th anniversary this year, having developed over that period into a strong well-known brand. Highlighting some of the strengths of the company, which have contributed to this success, Peter says: “We are very clear in terms of our focus and the niche sector that we are supplying, so we have not attempted to become a large volume manufacturer. The whole business is set-up to react to client requirements from our quoting process, through to our handling of single items and small batches, and we even reserve some of our production capacity so that we can accommodate very tight deadlines.
“One thing associated with Linvic is trust. We enjoy a high level of repeat custom because clients are confident that if they need something urgently, or something more unusual, we can deliver it. Certification and traceability of materials is vital ukin this industry, and by working alongside the complimentary companies within our parent group, Accura Support Services, we are able to control our various manufacturing processes and therefore ensure our high quality levels.”
At present, spearheaded by Peter, Linvic is entering into its next development phase where it is looking at further improvement of its systems and processes to achieve an even higher level of service. Only a few months ago the company launched its permanent presence in Malaysia, in a bid to actively offer its services on a more local basis, in line with its strategy of gaining new markets. With market conditions steadily improving, Peter offers his thoughts on achieving Linvic’s next milestone: “I would like to see an expansion of the services that we offer. Naturally we want to remain close to our core business, but clearly the services that we offer in this industry are applicable to other products, and as such we will be investigating other areas. Although our geographical reach and product range may grow, the focus on service that we have maintained for so long will only continue to become stronger.”
Products: Pipeline flanges and fittings