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Strong growth and recruitment for Peterlee battery manufacturer

Apr 4, 2024 | Business

Peterlee manufacturer Alexander Battery Technologies (ABT) plans to recruit and heavily invest in its UK and overseas sites as it embarks on an ambitious growth strategy.

The company, which designs and manufactures customised rechargeable battery packs for a range of industries, has enjoyed strong growth in the last 12 months with turnover rising to £18m for 2023.

Since embarking on a five-year growth plan, ABT has seen revenues rise by around 30per cent during the last year. Now, in its 40th anniversary year, the company has higher ambitions to achieve a £100m annual sales target within the next four years.

With 50 per cent of sales in the US and around 47 per cent in Europe, the company wants to grow exports while also significantly boosting sales across the EU and the UK. Later this year the company is targeting to announce details of a new manufacturing operation in Europe.

During 2023, the company secured several big contracts and broke into new markets, most notably the growing e-Mobility sector; and secured a project for a battery pack for an on-highway eMotorbike. Elsewhere, ABT won a project in the military sector for an unmanned support vehicle that works alongside military personnel, carrying heavy equipment and support gear. This demanding project requires a large battery pack of around 70kg with a voltage of circa 120V.

The international company, which operates in key sectors including robotics, telecommunications and e-mobility, currently employs more than 110 people and expects this to grow significantly in the next few years.

Most of the staff are based at the advanced high-voltage battery testing and validation laboratory at its Battery Technology Centre, as well as its state-of-the-art logistics facility at Peterlee. However, ABT is also steadily building its sales and service operation, opening a new location in Frankfurt last summer.

The German office enables the company to offer technical consultancy tailored to the needs of regional customers. This office puts ABT in a strong position to satisfy fast-growing demand in Europe for lithium batteries in the e-mobility, robotics, medical, and wearable/portable devices markets.

Alex Stapleton, chief commercial officer at ABT, said: “The business invested heavily during 2023, to set us up for growth in the coming years. We concluded the complete design and build of our Battery Technology Centre, providing 12 dedicated laboratories for new battery development projects.

“These support the business with significant bandwidth for up to 12 different projects in parallel and are capable of supporting designs up to 800v and over 100kWh. The Battery Technology Centre also added much needed office space, as well as extra production floorspace to further future-proof the flexibility of our UK site.”

Additional equipment will go into this building in 2024, including a bespoke test-rig for battery testing, which can be adapted for a wide range of projects and applications, such as high voltage requirements.

In the middle of 2023, ABT invested in IPG Photonic’s very latest battery laser welding machinery, the EV Flex. This new laser welder is currently being installed within the Peterlee factory, which once in full production will represent an investment of more than £500,000. The EV Flex provides the technical platform to deliver large packs to meet the standards required for automotive on-highway vehicles and similar high voltage applications.

A new Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) platform, representing a further investment of around £500,000, has only recently gone live. Alex Stapleton added: “This critical system upgrade will enable the business to digitalise and automate all the world-class controls in manufacturing, enhancing the level of available detail to meet automotive standards where needed.”

During 2024, the company is in vesting in additional certifications for the business, such as ISO27001 (Cyber Security), ISO45001 (Health & Safety), ISO/TS 16949 (Automotive) and ISO14001 (Environmental).