Mike Burke has been promoted from Projects Manager to Managing Director of Hampshire-based E&K Automation Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of the German manufacturer of automated guided vehicle (AGV) systems, E&K Automation GmbH.
The networks of computer controlled, driverless vehicles that the company supplies transport materials around factories and warehouses, interfacing with conveyors and racking without manual intervention.
Experience of AGV system design and implementation dating back to 1986 gives Mike unusually comprehensive knowledge of this sector of materials handling. A Chartered Engineer with a BSc in mechanical engineering, he is also an AMHSA (Automated Material Handling Systems Association) committee member.
As a consequence of Mike’s promotion, STEWART BOURN has been recruited as Project / Health & Safety Manager. In addition to project managing the turnkey supply and installation of AGV systems at customers’ premises, he brings with him specific expertise in safety practices gleaned from 25 years working in the warehousing and materials handling industry.
Stewart has a BSc in numerous modules from computing to social science from the Open University and holds CITB (Construction Industry Training Board) safety accreditation dating back to 2000. It was followed three years later by a NEBOSH (National Examination Board of Safety and Health) certificate. In 2009, he completed an NVQ4 in occupational safety and health and is now a graduate and chartered member of IOSH, the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health.
Another new UK appointment at E&K Automation is KIRSTY PENNICOTT, Office Administrator, who joins senior administrator, PAM CRITCHLEY, to strengthen the company’s customer-facing support services. Kirsty’s background is in banking. She holds the AAT accounting qualification and has considerable secretarial and organisational experience.
Of the recent personnel changes at E&K Automation Ltd, Mike Burke commented, "Our new team is well placed to respond to the increased interest in AGV technology in the UK, both in manufacturing and warehousing. There is growing realisation that automation is essential for companies to be able to compete successfully with overseas competitors.
"Our biggest successes lately have involved the multi-phase installation of AGV systems in blue-chip companies in the FMCG (fast moving consumer goods) sector to automate their multi-shift manufacturing operations and reduce labour costs.
"Another driver for investing in automation is to reduce the incidence of damage to transported goods associated with conventional fork lift truck operation and other manual handling practices.
"It is interesting that in continental Europe, a significant proportion of our business is adapting standard lift trucks to operate as AGVs, which offers customers operational cost reductions by having the local truck supplier provide service and support. In the UK, this approach has been less common but is predicted to grow strongly in the coming years."