IEN: Labfacility has been on the market with its products for temperature measurement for almost 40 years. Could you please give us a brief overview of your company’s history, highlighting some of the milestones in your product development?
Riddett: Labfacility was formed in 1971 to supply Laboratory equipment and commenced thermocouple connector manufacturing in 1982. Temperature sensor manufacturing was established in 1983 to produce thermocouple and platinum resistance thermometer assemblies. In 1987 the company designed and began manufacture of a unique range of Laboratory standard digital thermometers. In 2007, following major investment in machinery for turned parts production, the company manufactured sensor installation fittings and thermowells. The design of a new range of precision digital thermometer / loggers commenced in 2009 for launch in mid 2010. The company is ISO 9001 registered.
IEN: Which industries do you target primarily, and could mention some exemplary applications?
Riddett: The main industries using Labfacility products are Aerospace, Automotive & Motorsport, Education, Energy, Food, Heat Treatment, Medical, Metallurgy,etc. We are particularly active in R&D, Temperature Calibration, Laboratory and Quality Control departments, Plastics and Rubber, as well as Power Generation. Specific applications include temperature sensing in autoclave / sterilizers, engine test, airliner brakes, pharmaceutical production, environmental chambers and plastics machinery. A growing number of applications are using the special rapid response, low thermal mass, mineral insulated 0.5mm diameter thermocouples which are highly flexible; these miniature sensors have minimal intrusion into the processes and provide accurate temperature sensing over a wide temperature range.
IEN: How do you distribute your products in Europe, and how do you provide the sometimes necessary technical service to your customers?
Riddett: Product sales in Europe are primarily through catalogue distributors including RS Components and Farnell. Labfacility is represented in various European countries by Agents and Distributors who also provide technical support locally. Finally, direct export sales are made to certain markets. In total, Labfacility supplies customers in over 80 countries world-wide. Free technical support is constantly available world-wide to any customer or agent requiring it both on-line and via the telephone.
IEN: Do you sell the majority of your products off the shelf, or do most of them have to be adapted to your customer’s requirements?
Riddett: The majority of the products are standard catalogue items which are delivered “next day”. In addition to more than 200 types of temperature sensor, the full range of thermocouple connectors and cables are held in stock in quantity. The catalogue Distributors hold large stocks of many standard lines. In addition to the standard lines, Labfacility specialises in custom designed sensors to suit special requirements; these can be on the basis of engineering drawings or even replicating samples.
IEN: In terms of technology development: What will be the major challenges for temperature measurement in the near future?
Riddett: Labfacility has an on-going R&D programme developing high precision temperature measurement instruments and wireless technology thermometry systems; internet enabling will feature in future instrumentation.
Facts & Figures
Headquarters: Bognor Regis, West Sussex,
UK Factories: Bognor Regis & Sheffield, UK
Turnover 2008: In excess of 4million EURO
Main Products: Devices for temperature and process measurement including transmitters, thermocouple connectors, wires & cables, instrumentation, sensors and laboratory standard digital thermometers & calibration instruments.