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Introduced to Electrolube's President, Gerald Kingsbury, and Group Managing Director Ron Jakeman at productronica, I was delighted to accept their invitation to visit their UK headquarters in the historic Leicestershire town of Ashby-de-la-Zouch, whose name dates back to the Norman conquest of England in the 11th century.
And Electrolube itself has historic links too. Founder Henry Kingsbury's wife, Gerald Kingsbury's mother, was a direct descendant of Boer War hero Field Marshal Sir John French, 1st Earl of Ypres, whose portrait takes pride of place in the company's boardroom.
From a background in the electronics industry, Henry Kingsbury began manufacture of volume controls in the early 1940s, trading as Kingsbury Components, and overcame the tendency of volume controls of that era to fail open-circuit by developing an oil that improved electrical performance, reduced operating friction and extended the life of contact surfaces.
This evolved into a range of contact lubricants which became the basis of the Electrolube brand and a company now recognised as a global specialist and brand leader in formulated chemical products for the electronics industry.
With a presence in 55 countries, Electrolube's extensive portfolio now includes thermal management materials, conformal coatings, encapsulation resins, electronic cleaning solutions and general maintenance products. Electrolube remains a private company owned by the Kingsbury family and continues to expand, with R&D, manufacture and distribution long established in China to complement the UK operation, and a new manufacturing plant being commissioned in India.
In my conversation with Ron Jakeman and group technical director Dr. John Humphries, it became clear to me that Electrolube's strength has been built upon the combination of the technical skills of its people and their ability to work closely with customers, with the company’s culture of collaboration, innovation, thought-leadership and customer service. Not a complicated formula, but the results speak for themselves and justify the mission statement, "To strive to exceed our customers' expectations with innovative new products and the highest possible levels of customer service" and the Electrolube tagline, "The Solutions People."
"We like problems!" was the preface to an explanation of the company's focus on research and development, whether by adapting existing products to meet specific needs, or by embarking on long-term projects to develop entirely new solutions to existing or anticipated performance and reliability challenges, guided by a specialist technical support group and funded by a substantial R&D budget. Having R&D in China as well as in the UK enabled rapid response to local market demands, and closely coordinated collaboration between the individual teams gave two-way synergistic benefits.
In addition to technical performance considerations for new products, there was increasing emphasis on finding environmentally friendly solutions. Electrolube was recently challenged to resolve long-term problems experienced by a customer utilising surface modifier materials; the technical team wholeheartedly embraced the challenge and developed a brand new product that not only met the specifications but exceeded them.
Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in the February 2016 issue of SMT Magazine.