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KATO®: The Past, the Present and the Future

Posted by Advanex  |  

2018 marked 80 years of spring manufacturing in the Nottingham area, so it is great to see Advanex still flying the flag in this regard. One of the company’s sites was originally set up under the KATO name to create springs and metal components for micro floppy discs and precision parts in high volumes. Of course, with floppy discs long since becoming obsolete, and with the technology futile, Advanex had to find a new product to specialise in.

KATO Tangless® was the next step for Advanex. They were originally developed in Japan in very low volumes at a slow speed. Advanex Europe has developed this process over the course of the last 25 years to make it what it is today, manufacturing KATO® using bespoke machinery which has been designed, built and installed in-house. All components within this product range are still manufactured under the original KATO brand, synonymous as a leading brand within industry, but manufactured within Advanex factory walls.

Although tanged KATO® had been on the market for many years, Advanex created and pioneered Tangless® inserts. KATO Tangless® inserts are identical in form, fit, and function to the conventional tanged inserts. In fact, Tangless® inserts are identical to tanged inserts in every way except for their method of installation and removal, both easier and more efficient.

The key strength of the whole business is innovation in products and processes, our engineering capabilities, and our people. If you look at the whole Advanex group, it is clear to see that long service is the norm from our staff. It is not unusual for people to leave school, join as an apprentice, and then work through the company in a variety of areas for their entire career. It may sound cliché, but the core of the business is the people, and they make Advanex what it is today.

Advanex now have a presence spanning the globe from Japan and South East Asia over to America and Europe, ensuring the global market reach for customers is widespread. Like with any other global company, this means Advanex works with other global manufacturers, specialising in the likes of electronics, automotive, aerospace, and medical devices fields.

Advanex’s pioneering Tangless® insert, has been marketed for over 20 years and has made the company a leader across a variety of industries, including space satellite applications. Advanex Tangless® inserts are used on the Mars Rover SuperCam module which has landed on the Red Planet.

The company make millions of these products every year, so to think that some of them are an integral part of scientific equipment that has gone to Mars is incredible. However, in general assembly work, Tangless® products save one of our customers around 8 hours labour per component, which represents a huge cost saving. We have been able to extend the range of these Tangless® inserts in recent years. We believe that Advanex manufactures the smallest inserts available around the world, the 0-80 insert having a metric diameter of 1.52 mm.

Notwithstanding that Advanex continue to make the traditional tanged insert, to cater for jobs specified before the innovation, and to complete the catalogue. Like all of our ranges, Advanex is not averse to looking at new applications for this traditional component.

Although KATO® can be considered the jewel in the crown, there are a myriad of spring applications that Advanex engineers are working on. Think about any component that needs controlled motion without electronics; a spring will be used. After all, the basic function of a spring is to release stored energy. There are many designs however to meet that end and depending on what your use might be the spring choices can be very different. With a New Product Introduction (NPI) team pouncing on an enquiry, it will quickly become a project which after testing and qualification becomes an application. Product support is a major factor that ensures longevity, and team headed up by the Quality department will support customers’ needs.

This innovation is what differentiates Advanex products from the competitors in the industry. Advanex is constantly developing new products and processes too, such as the newer inserts in the different types of pitch thread. Tangless® versions of the fine pitch inserts are now available. This work provides a massive edge in terms of the application, and Advanex has even found that the end users are implementing this into plastic and ceramic products, which represents new applications in new markets.

So, what is next?

With the UK having left the European Union, the Japanese division wanted to keep a foothold on the mainland of the Continent, and to that end, Advanex Czech Republic (ACZ) is now up and running, destined to produce parts for the automotive and medical industry, building a growing portfolio of customers untapped by the UK based unit. A new team of staff guided by the old heads in the UK, bode well for the future creating the next generation, of spring and pressing manufacture for Advanex. Housed in a brand-new factory built just outside Prague, ACZ is ideally situated to service our new and existing customers in Europe.

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