Pumps Limited – a very British Manufacturer exporting globally

UK specialist pump manufacturer Flotronic Pumps Limited was founded by Lew Norris in 1981. The engineering design consultancy ‘Norris Brothers’ had been involved in the design of  specialist pumps, packaging machines, spool valves, lift trucks and explosion proof boxes since 1952.  They had also been involved in the design and development of the high speed Bluebird boats and car in which Donald Campbell broke post-war water and land speed records.

Applying the innovative style which had characterised Norris Brothers approach to engineering, Lew Norris’ new company pioneered the air-operated, double-diaphragm ‘ONE-NUT’ pump. Flotronic’s ‘ONE-NUT’ design allows quick pump disassembly for inspection, cleaning and maintenance – delivering a massive benefit for customers in terms of reduced down-time, particularly as the pump can be inspected or maintained in line without disconnection of pipework. The ‘ONE-NUT’ design can be found on all the pumps manufactured at Flotronic’s original Ricebridge works near Bolney in West Sussex and the company remains the only British-owned specialist manufacturer of air-operated, double-diaphragm pumps in the UK.

Flotronic Pump’s ‘ONE-NUT’ design today …

… has evolved substantially from the original and is integral to an extensive range of models and deployment in a huge variety of critical process applications. These include transferring materials as diverse as adhesives, cosmetics, drinks, dyes, food stuffs, hand cream, mayonnaise, paints, petrochemicals and yoghurt as well as aggressive chemicals such as acids, MEK and Toluene. Flotronic pumps can provide constant liquid feeds and pump thin or viscous liquids. Flotronic Pumps’ products are in operation around the world.

The air-operated double diaphragm pump has other advantages …

… over alternative pump types include self-priming, the ability to ‘dry-run’, ease in dealing with ‘dead-heading’ and solids content. The absence of a need for electricity also makes the pumps readily portable and very safe. And while other manufacturers have struggled to get round the problems of product leakage and suction pressure damage inherently associated with air-operated diaphragm pumps, Flotronic has been able to include diaphragm reinforcing plates in any of its pumps where required. The reinforcing plates are held in place by the ‘ONE-NUT’ and mean the pumps can withstand pressures in the suction line – known as unsupported head – of up to 7bar with no damage to the diaphragms. Suction pressure challenges resulting from causes as diverse as pressure cleaning, large tanks and bulk containers, pump priming, re-circulation and thermal expansion can all be met by any Flotronic pump with diaphragm reinforcing plates.

Flotronic Pumps and sanitary applications

Consumers rightly expect food and other hygiene-critical products to be clean and free from agents that cause disease or infection and their expectations are reflected in increasingly demanding legislation and internationally recognised accreditations.

All pumps in the standard Flotronic Stainless Steel Slimline range are hygienic. There is also a sanitary Stainless Steel range with specialised surface finishes, seals and internal radii. Our pumps with PTFE parts meet USP Class VI standards.

Flotronic Pumps ‘H’ and ‘E’ Style pumps …

… take ‘sanitary’ to an even higher level. Made in Britain but manufactured to meet internationally recognised standards, Flotronic Pumps ‘H’ and ‘E’ Style pumps have been through processes which see them enjoy the United States ‘3-A’ and European and EHEDG accreditation respectively, with ‘H’ and ‘E’ Style pump’s drainability key to their accreditation success.

 ‘ONE-BLOCK’ as well as ‘ONE-NUT’

The Minichem, another innovative design on offer from Flotronic Pumps, is machined from a solid block of FDA approved PTFE, removing the need for separate manifolds. This ‘ONE-BLOCK’ approach, incorporating internal ball valves, means there are no manifold seals and therefore no obvious leak paths, making the Minichem safe to operate in hazardous environments and applications.

Explosive environments

Flotronic Pumps offer options on most pumps which make them suitable for in-line maintenance in a potentially explosive environment and therefore compliant with the latest European ATEX Directive. Component selection can cover all Gas Groups (IIA, IIB and IIC).

Flotronic Pumps Limited might be firmly based in the UK …

… but the company is seeing significant success in developing new markets overseas. Exports as a percentage of total sales rose from just 15% in 2003 to 40% in 2016. 50% of exports go to Europe – but pumps are being sold in increasing numbers across the world including the US and Canada (25%) and the Far East (8%) – with the remaining 17% distributed to the Middle East, India, South America, South Africa and Australasia. The company is seeing particularly high overseas growth in pump sales into its target Pharmaceutical, Food & Beverage, Chemical manufacture and Cosmetics markets, with three of the most recently developed products, the ‘Minichem’ – machined from a solid block of PTFE, the 3-A accredited ‘H’ series sanitary applications pump and the EHEDG accredited ‘E’ Series pump generating particular interest.

The company has invested heavily in establishing and supporting local dealer networks to make their exports drive happen. The recruitment process includes an assessment of whether the dealer can deliver on key Flotronic brand values like commitment to quality and the highest standards of customer care. Support includes literature and other marketing collateral, local PR, high visibility at trade exhibitions and funding help in establishing a credible online presence.

Flotronic Pumps Ltd is determined to build on its burgeoning international sales success, with exports as percentage of total sales expected to rise to 50% by 20175. The company is concerned that building domestic market share in what is a highly competitive industry doesn’t become the be all and end all of its future success. And there’s also the kudos attached to being ‘made in Britain’ but being successful internationally.

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