Interview for Warehouse & Logistics News

Q&A With Mike Hilton, Sales Director at LAC

Who are LAC Conveyors & Automation?

In 1997 Carl Unwin & Sons started the production of modular conveyors from their home garage. Today, LAC is based in Nottingham where it has a 60,000 ft² site, with head office and manufacturing facilities. LAC employs over 100 people and is on target to hit a £30M turnover target for the 2021 financial year. We are developing and selling total integrated automated solutions into three business sectors, these being Logistics Supply Chain, Post & Parcel, and Food.

Chris Unwin is the owner and CEO of LAC Conveyors & Automation. He started LAC from his house over 20 years ago. He is also a professional rower and his desire to compete, and win can be seen in how he has grown LAC to the business it is today. His experience of competing at the highest level also feeds into his determination to build a strong, cohesive team.

What does your role at LAC involve?

For myself I have been in the materials handling industry for over 30 years and over that time have managed or owned several businesses in this sector. My role at LAC; as Sales Director; is a combination of strategically contributing to the business as a main board director. My role also includes using my experience and knowledge of the logistics world, to help LAC drive forward and grow its market share in this key sector.

What makes LAC unique?

We are uniquely positioned as a leading UK Manufacturer and System Integrator of Conveyors and Automation Systems. Our conveyors have been fundamental to the success of leading material handling companies across the UK and Europe. LAC’s comprehensive conveyor offering covers standard conveyor solutions along with bespoke solutions tailored to specific applications, working within sortation, order picking, pallet handling, manufacturing, and buffer storage. Being one of the few UK manufacturers, enables us to be both agile and flexible when meeting clients lead times, particularly in these unprecedented times influenced of Covid and post Brexit pressures on supply chains.

Mike Hilton

How strong are LAC in providing robotic solutions?

We have a long history in supplying Robotics Solutions, and we are presently involved in several projects for Robotic Palletising & De-Palletising in retail distribution centres. This demand being influenced by the shortage of labour in the Logistics Supply Chain.

Our diverse skillset at LAC brings together decades of industry knowledge and experience. Working within varying industry sectors such as manufacturing, automotive, food and logistics has enabled us to think outside the box. We transfer the latest robotics technologies through from one industry to another, ensuring we stay current, whilst maintaining foresight on market demands. LAC have recently become an ABB value provider which has further increased our capabilities within the supply of Robotics solutions.

How are LAC currently performing?

Our business is going from strength to strength and is seeing exponential growth in both orders and sales. Enabling us to recruit and build on our vibrant team environment. This together with our focus on R&D and bringing new products to markets, puts us in strong position to continue this sustainable growth.

How do you see your strategy developing with LAC’s Integration partners?

Our integration partners bring great strength to our business model. They enable us to enter markets and pull through other LAC products and solutions. Exotec is a unique Skypod Solution and I think a disrupter in this marketplace. Our Direct Business Partner relationship with TGW enables us to integrate Mini-Load Crane Systems and other storage mediums such as the TGW Commissioner. Added to this we are value provider to ABB Robotics, and we have other partnerships with businesses like Prime Robotics in the USA and Omron in the UK.

Where in the Logistics Automation market do you see LAC operating?

The pressures on the logistics supply chain are nowhere greater than in the retail sector. As a medium sized integrator, we are aiming to increase our presence in this key business sector. Our portfolio of solutions combined with our knowledge of these businesses means we can identify the retailers points of pain and offer sensible, cost-effective solutions.

What are the benefits of adding the Exotec Skypod System to your product portfolio?

Acting as Exotec’s exclusive integrator for the UK and Ireland is a great coup for LAC. It enables us to offer a scalable robotic solution. Thereby its benefit to nascent ‘.com’ businesses, means they can start with a low investment Exotec solution that can then grow in line with the future demands of their business. It is totally scalable and additional capacity can be added without major disruption to a live operational site. All that said, it is also very suitable for larger scale operations where traditional shuttle solutions may be of a much higher capital investment.

What plans do you have for the future of LAC Conveyors & Automation?

Our plans for LAC are to ensure it has wider recognition in its key target markets, and through this recognition build up a significant long-term customer base. In which, we are recognised for providing superior solutions that meet our customers’ needs, enabling them to meet their customer’s needs. To stay ahead of the game, we will be continuing to reinvest into the business and expand on our exceptional workforce, to keep driving the business forward.