Tennants UK has been using reflective material in sign manufacture since 1967, affording the Nottingham-based company a unique perspective on the development of the reflective market.
“Fundamentally, the understanding of the customer’s markets is crucial to developing relationships and providing excellent customer service,” affirms Phil Craig, Operations Manager. “Our mantra is ‘Reliable, Responsive, Reflective’ and we firmly believe these values are shared by our customer base.”
Tennants supply reflective signage in to a range of markets, the primary market being Temporary Road Signage. In 2014, they expanded into the manufacture of Permanent Road Signs using new technology developed by Orafol Europe, who have produced a compatible system using the Agfa Anapurna 2050 UV digital printing machine to produce 100% compliant legal sign faces. This enables them to meet the highly demanding specifications the UK market requires.
Tennants is the UK master distributor of ORAFOL® reflective products, a partnership that dates back to 2007. “They have invested heavily in developing and manufacturing glass bead to prismatic reflective sheeting to meet government standards throughout the world,” says Craig. “The German-based manufacturer encapsulates everything you associate with German manufacturing – reliability, quality and efficiency.” Tennants cites this relationship with their supplier, along with their own continued commitment to build strong customer relationships, as having been essential to building success in the reflective signage market. Craig reveals that they are continuing to move forward engaging new customers and new end-users by building on the successes of the Olympics, Tour de France and other major road schemes in the UK through to work on projects such as The Channel Tunnel.
Using technology to tackle theft
According to Craig, traffic signage theft is becoming an increasing problem.
In order to provide a higher quality sign and offer services that can help prevent theft, Tennants are actively investing in new technology in order to improve efficiency and capacity when it comes to the manufacture of reflective signs.
In addition to the Agfa Anapurna UV printer, they now have three Zund Cutting System machines. “These are used to through-cut reflective, kiss-cut vinyl, and to routing base substrate accurately to the legal requirement, thus saving time in finishing by automating the start of the process,” he says. “It also allows us to offer our customers the option to engrave their signs with the company logo.
Theft of road signage is a big problem in the Traffic Management industry and having permanent identification on your signage gives our customers a high degree of confidence against competitors using their signs.”
Investment in three new roller beds has made the manufacturing facilities more flexible, and allowed Tennants to provide customers with a reliable and responsive service. This year, they will be investing in a new business system that allows them to be even more responsive to the customer’s requirements and better track performance. “Throughout all of these investments, the customer has been at the forefront of our thoughts,” adds Craig.
When it comes to investing in machinery, Craig reveals that he commonly encounters businesses choosing products for the wrong reasons. Ill-equipped to do the job at hand, these machines can therefore produce sub-par signage, something that can be potentially hazardous where things like traffic signage are concerned. “Making decisions based on initial cost and a good sales pitch rather than the quality and reliability aspect of the purchase is probably the most common mistake in our industry,” he says. “We have always been selective in our supplier partnerships, working on the principle that reliability and responsiveness are the keys to success. We may pay more at the outset but, in the long-term, that additional initial investment provides cost-effective manufacture, efficiency savings and ultimately a better customer experience.”