Read the editorial below, or follow this link to the editorial on Professional Security's website
'Malcolm Steadman the Sales Manager for Altron recently invited Roy Cooper the Managing Director of Professional Security Magazine to visit their factory.
Having visited the factory many years ago, and agreed to drop by. I tied it in with some other appointments while in Wales and I am glad I took the left turn off the M25 onto the M4. It must have been eight years since my last visit and things have changed. As I arrived it had just stopped snowing and was a very beautiful day. And the location is likewise very scenic with some fantastic views of the valleys.
Now you may not know this but Altron Communications is an independently owned company, and still involves the founding family some 40 years on. They supply exclusively to the security market, in other, words they don't make fences or bridges, they just do a range of products that services the security industry and supplies to markets worldwide. They have a purpose-built factory (which they call facility) that employs over 100. Their UK base provides 6000m2 (60,000ft2) of manufacturing space in a modern and well-equipped site close to the motorway network. Ongoing investment in equipment means that they remain at the forefront of being able to supply competitively and reliably.
Malcolm took me for the tour starting at one end where outside I could see the significant stock of raw materials that will be turned into the quality product we have come to expect from Altron. The production line looked very hands on, as I watched a couple of guys welding away, some bolting things together. The attention to detail was one of the things I noticed from the guys, totally oblivious to me being in their building. The tower, pole or column is galvanised as standard and, where required by clients, goes into the on-site paint shop, and is then loaded onto a lorry, or stored in the yard at the other end of the site. And wow, they have a lot stored, and ready to go, which by the way does not sit there for long as they can turn around an order in two to ten days for some bracketry or standard modular items. With the huge stockholding .available they are ready to service clients quickly and efficiently. The lorries are also their own and they will not only deliver but drop your pole into place if you want them to.
I was also amazed at the number of products in the range. Over 300 products appear in their brochure. Everything is produced to order, but they also have the expertise to design and manufacture bespoke products for clients, when project demands mean that the standard range of products aren't suitable; and some of those have become now standard products. It can be said that Altron has been responsible for many firsts in the industry and that continues to this day. From the first purpose-built cabinet based pole onwards, with many unique and patentable features. One such project was the design, manufacture and supply of a range of poles for use in a critical, renewables-driven wireless application. The need to monitor and operate gates at remote unmanned crossings across the UK rail network has long been recognized as necessary, and Altron have helped to achieve this by designing a tilt-down pole that can safely and securely hold batteries and other equipment in its base, while being robust and stable enough to have solar panels, wind turbines and CCTV equipment mounted. They were chosen for this critical UK-wide project due to the company's record in delivering fully-justified and engineered designs on-time and on target, not least for the 2012 Olympics, National Grid and other CNI (critical national infrastructure) projects.
Likewise TfGM (Transport for Greater Manchester) chose Altron poles after a tender exercise as they offered the best product for purposes, the quality of the manufacture, ease of installation and adding the equipment once up, the security of the cabinet base, and the overall support from the supplier in establishing what was needed and ensuring all the fittings were correct, at the best market value said the project manager, systems and highways schemes; asset management program; TfGM: "The training provided to our engineers was comprehensive and enabled their quick mobilisation to complete the installations and the CCTV camera fitting. The poles have been installed across Greater Manchester and always attract positive comments about their impressive features."
One other product, which I had not seen before, was the trolley head, whose patented design features now include a drop down arm feature. This enables you to lower the camera down the pole using an internal and very technical pulley system. When I say technical, I mean how does it work? As it has two pulleys etc. However for the engineer it is very simple, easy and quick. The product came about from an engineer's point of view. You simply open the secure door, get out the Altron Drill Winding Device and wind it down with no effort at all; the company has even designed an an interchangeable bracket for use on all the trolley head poles. Once down you can swing or drop down the camera on the patented Drop Down Arm, to be able to work on it from the ground and winch it back up once you have finished , where it locks back in exactly the same place it was before. A brilliant idea, that must save service companies many hours of work. The company seems to be growing from strength to strength and to be honest I found the visit very interesting; there is more to these poles than you think!'