In focus: Andy Robinson

Andy Robinson

About Andy …

Andy Robinson is managing director of ARMH Ltd, a consultancy and manufacturer of materials handling equipment based in Lancashire. ARMH Ltd has been supplying the laundry industry with all types of British-made equipment specifically designed for storing and moving products for over 40 years. An engineer by background, Robinson is extremely passionate about what he does and is driven to always make things better, constantly tweaking and re-inventing solutions to problems in the workplace.

The absolute cherry on the cake for Robinson was being recognised and nominated for a Most Innovative Company LADA award 2020 for a solution he has created to ensure laundries can operate safely considering the COVID-19 crisis. Robinson has been married to Judith for 32 years, has a daughter, two sons, three grandchildren and lives in Lancashire. He has a lifelong passion for riding motorcycles and a love of walking with his two border terriers Walter and Jesse (fondly known as the barking bad brothers!).

On his industry career …

Leaving school in 1977 I began to learn the plastics rotational moulding process at a local manufactur ing company. Shortly after I took a three-year apprenticeship in the engineering department where the machines, tools and other metal fabrications were made.

By 1982 I was running the engineering side of the business and developed it over the next six years until I went on the road selling the products we made. This put me face to face with customers and their businesses. Seeing things first-hand meant my mind was free to engineer solutions to their problems. Ever since then, it has been my ambition and drive to make the workplace and processes better, make people’s lives easier and safer and to really make a difference where possible, quite often innovating products from scratch.

The industry we all love is going through immense pain at the moment, especially any business linked to hospitality. I personally feel desperately saddened for all involved in the negativity produced by the pandemic but remain positive and optimistic, building on any slight ray of sunshine coming through. To date I have enjoyed 43 years in this wonderful industry and feel it essential to keep new blood coming through. Engineers are an essential requirement to keep the wheels turning, therefore apprenticeships and training play a key role.

Whilst running a corporate event in June 2013 I suffered five cardiac arrests in the space of 1½ hours. Thanks to the speedy action of colleagues and friends around me, paramedics and the staff at Blackpool hospital, I lived to tell the tale and have embraced every day since.

On industry developments…

It is true to say, the industry has developed immeasurably and will continue to do so with more and more involvement from technology, artificial intelligence etc. Bearings and seals must be changed when worn, vans must be loaded and un-loaded, so competent people are an essential ingredient in the whole picture, therefore investment in training is paramount.

Solving problems through knowledge brings its own rewards but is often taken for granted. My own journey has been one of massive pride having made a positive difference. Even now after 43 years, I still thrive on the challenge of engineering a solution and putting it in front of a client.

The way we design has changed too. From an engineering perspective the machinery that produces plastic containers is better, quicker, smarter, more accurate and keeps costs down. COVID-19 has increased expectations too – typically solutions have been expected in days, rather than weeks. Going forward, the industry will bounce back from what has taken precedence this year and will continue to evolve. In my view this is a people industry and whilst there’s been a constant drive to reduce the amount of labour involved, a pair of hands will never be replaced in many cases, so it’s for future thinkers to find the harmony and balance between man and machine.

On sustainability…

Whilst people continue to sleep between sheets in hotels and hospitals, wear reusable protective clothing, enjoy a clean tablecloth with a napkin, there will always be a laundry industry.

Cleaner and greener operations have been driven forward over the more recent decades and being very mindful of safety, the planet and the environment we all live in. Plastic, which has always been close to my heart, has come under a great deal of scrutiny. I only use virgin plastic, not reprocessed. Reprocessed plastic just doesn’t work for what we need it to do – it can be too brittle, and it’s not food grade or suitable for linen as it’s essential that there’s no contaminants in the plastic for use in our industry. The containers made last many years, then when they come to the end of their life can be recycled into something new.

Buying cheaper grade plastic is simply a false economy and we have seen others go down this path to end up with dire consequences. We’ve looked at other plastics but it’s just not right. It’s not always about money. It’s the same for items such as castors and wheels etc. It’s true there are cheaper one’s out there that look similar but often do not stand up to the rigours of what is required over years. I place a strong value on service relationships and loyalty. This we have cemented over many years with our customers and suppliers alike.

On industry collaboration…

For 25 years I have worked hand in hand with Bryant Plastics Ltd. Together we have innovated many fantastic products and received recognition throughout the industry. We continue to strive forward with our processes, tool design and equipment specifically designed for the laundry industry. Our range of moulded cages and self-levelling trolleys have received huge positive recognition and one of our latest moulded cages, the LC518, has received huge acclaim throughout the industry. I can not tell you how rewarding and proud this makes us all feel.

Over my 43 years I’ve built and maintained strong relationships across the industry. You can’t buy that. I am a very loyal person and will do anything for anybody. My phone is never turned off. As an active member of the TSA Knowledge Network team, we jointly strive to make a positive difference where the handling and storing of textiles is essential. We cont i nu a l ly ask everybody from the shop floor to the boardroom to share their problems with us, as we thrive on engineering solutions – there are always better and smarter ways of doing things. I’m always up for a new challenge.

ARMH Ltd has been nominated for a Most Innovative Company award at the LADAs 2020 for a solution Robinson has created to ensure laundries can operate safely considering the COVID-19 crisis.

Andy and Judith Robinson at the LADAs 2019

About Andy …

Andy Robinson is managing director of ARMH Ltd, a consultancy and manufacturer of materials handling equipment based in Lancashire. ARMH Ltd has been supplying the laundry industry with all types of British-made equipment specifically designed for storing and moving products for over 40 years. An engineer by background, Robinson is extremely passionate about what he does and is driven to always make things better, constantly tweaking and re-inventing solutions to problems in the workplace.

The absolute cherry on the cake for Robinson was being recognised and nominated for a Most Innovative Company LADA award 2020 for a solution he has created to ensure laundries can operate safely considering the COVID-19 crisis. Robinson has been married to Judith for 32 years, has a daughter, two sons, three grandchildren and lives in Lancashire. He has a lifelong passion for riding motorcycles and a love of walking with his two border terriers Walter and Jesse (fondly known as the barking bad brothers!).

On his industry career …

Leaving school in 1977 I began to learn the plastics rotational moulding process at a local manufactur ing company. Shortly after I took a three-year apprenticeship in the engineering department where the machines, tools and other metal fabrications were made.

By 1982 I was running the engineering side of the business and developed it over the next six years until I went on the road selling the products we made. This put me face to face with customers and their businesses. Seeing things first-hand meant my mind was free to engineer solutions to their problems. Ever since then, it has been my ambition and drive to make the workplace and processes better, make people’s lives easier and safer and to really make a difference where possible, quite often innovating products from scratch.

The industry we all love is going through immense pain at the moment, especially any business linked to hospitality. I personally feel desperately saddened for all involved in the negativity produced by the pandemic but remain positive and optimistic, building on any slight ray of sunshine coming through. To date I have enjoyed 43 years in this wonderful industry and feel it essential to keep new blood coming through. Engineers are an essential requirement to keep the wheels turning, therefore apprenticeships and training play a key role.

Whilst running a corporate event in June 2013 I suffered five cardiac arrests in the space of 1½ hours. Thanks to the speedy action of colleagues and friends around me, paramedics and the staff at Blackpool hospital, I lived to tell the tale and have embraced every day since.

On industry developments…

It is true to say, the industry has developed immeasurably and will continue to do so with more and more involvement from technology, artificial intelligence etc. Bearings and seals must be changed when worn, vans must be loaded and un-loaded, so competent people are an essential ingredient in the whole picture, therefore investment in training is paramount.

Solving problems through knowledge brings its own rewards but is often taken for granted. My own journey has been one of massive pride having made a positive difference. Even now after 43 years, I still thrive on the challenge of engineering a solution and putting it in front of a client.

The way we design has changed too. From an engineering perspective the machinery that produces plastic containers is better, quicker, smarter, more accurate and keeps costs down. COVID-19 has increased expectations too – typically solutions have been expected in days, rather than weeks. Going forward, the industry will bounce back from what has taken precedence this year and will continue to evolve. In my view this is a people industry and whilst there’s been a constant drive to reduce the amount of labour involved, a pair of hands will never be replaced in many cases, so it’s for future thinkers to find the harmony and balance between man and machine.

On sustainability…

Whilst people continue to sleep between sheets in hotels and hospitals, wear reusable protective clothing, enjoy a clean tablecloth with a napkin, there will always be a laundry industry.

Cleaner and greener operations have been driven forward over the more recent decades and being very mindful of safety, the planet and the environment we all live in. Plastic, which has always been close to my heart, has come under a great deal of scrutiny. I only use virgin plastic, not reprocessed. Reprocessed plastic just doesn’t work for what we need it to do – it can be too brittle, and it’s not food grade or suitable for linen as it’s essential that there’s no contaminants in the plastic for use in our industry. The containers made last many years, then when they come to the end of their life can be recycled into something new.

Buying cheaper grade plastic is simply a false economy and we have seen others go down this path to end up with dire consequences. We’ve looked at other plastics but it’s just not right. It’s not always about money. It’s the same for items such as castors and wheels etc. It’s true there are cheaper one’s out there that look similar but often do not stand up to the rigours of what is required over years. I place a strong value on service relationships and loyalty. This we have cemented over many years with our customers and suppliers alike.

On industry collaboration…

For 25 years I have worked hand in hand with Bryant Plastics Ltd. Together we have innovated many fantastic products and received recognition throughout the industry. We continue to strive forward with our processes, tool design and equipment specifically designed for the laundry industry. Our range of moulded cages and self-levelling trolleys have received huge positive recognition and one of our latest moulded cages, the LC518, has received huge acclaim throughout the industry. I can not tell you how rewarding and proud this makes us all feel.

Over my 43 years I’ve built and maintained strong relationships across the industry. You can’t buy that. I am a very loyal person and will do anything for anybody. My phone is never turned off. As an active member of the TSA Knowledge Network team, we jointly strive to make a positive difference where the handling and storing of textiles is essential. We cont i nu a l ly ask everybody from the shop floor to the boardroom to share their problems with us, as we thrive on engineering solutions – there are always better and smarter ways of doing things. I’m always up for a new challenge.

ARMH Ltd has been nominated for a Most Innovative Company award at the LADAs 2020 for a solution Robinson has created to ensure laundries can operate safely considering the COVID-19 crisis.

Andy and Judith Robinson at the LADAs 2019

Andy Robinson

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