The Loadpoint Bearings Story

(40th Anniversary 2019)

Before The Beginning

1957 - 1977

Chapter 1

Micro Turbines Ltd

In 1959 Nigel started a company called Micro Turbines Ltd which was based in Barnet, Hertfordshire and set about putting his dental ball bearing spindle into production. To do this various sub-contractor companies were used, one of them, which was used to manufacture the drills was a local company called Heldrew Engineering Company Ltd (started 1947 and closed 2004) and was owned by Mr Varge.

The final design of the dental ball bearing unit consisted of the ball bearing spindle with a control block, a water bottle, a hand piece and lead, a foot control and mounting bracket and sold for only £75.00 a complete set. It managed a maximum speed of 250,000 RPM.

1959

Nigel and Pauline Allen

At this point I should mention that Nigel had already had an “interesting life” having been involved with the start-up of the Lotus Car Company and working with Colin Chapman for five years but that tale though interesting, is not so relevant to Loadpoint Bearings Ltd story.

During this time most tooth drilling was carried out on a belt driven spindle that ran to a maximum speed of 24,000 RPM and used steel drills. These vibrated which meant they were uncomfortable for the patients. However, dentist drill technology was showing signs of advancing as some American spindles with oil lubricated bearings had appeared on the market. These had the potential to run to far higher speeds, 250,000 RPM but they were expensive and did not last so long. The engineer in Nigel believed, correctly, that he could improve on these spindles, so he studied them. After carefully analysing and studying, a much improved design was drawn up. The new design was greatly simplified, had excellent bearing alignment and used high quality Swiss ball bearings. The first spindles were manufactured by Nigel using a small Boley watchmaker’s lathe and worked well. There were a few minor design modifications made but after that it was now time to go into production.

1957

Westwind Turbines Ltd

By 1965 Westwind Developments had become Westwind Turbines and was now situated in a large factory in Dalling Road, Branksome, Poole. The years from 1962 to 1965 had been used to develop manufacturing techniques required to produce industrial air bearing spindles. It was during this time that two of Loadpoint Bearings Founding Fathers would meet and work with Nigel.

1965
The Beginning

1977 - 1979

Chapter 2

The Company Journey Begins

When you start a company you need several things. The idea, the time, the money, the people, a customer, some premises to put the company in, some machinery and lastly a company name.

The idea was already there, time was going to be made between dental patients and the money came from a £75,000 loan from the Co-op bank.

For the people, Nigel already had Ron Woolley on board. He also heard that his old colleague Peter Fraser was unhappy at Westwind, so he was approached. An offer was made and he was also “on board”. The last of “Founding Fathers” is Roger Martin, younger than Nigel, Ron and Peter, who was also at the time working at Westwind and was also not happy there. Roger was recommended to Nigel and he made an approach. Roger Martin joined the other three; we had Loadpoint Bearings Founding Fathers……

Nigel Allen, Peter Fraser, Roger Martin and Ron Woolley.

1977

The Factory Being Built in Early 1979

1979
Precision Rotors Dorset Ltd

January 1st 1980 to September 27th 1985

Chapter 3

When you start a company you need several things. The idea, the time, the money, the people, a customer, some premises to put the company in, some machinery and lastly a company name.

The idea was already there, time was going to be made between dental patients and the money came from a £75,000 loan from the Co-op bank.

For the people, Nigel already had Ron Woolley on board. He also heard that his old colleague Peter Fraser was unhappy at Westwind, so he was approached. An offer was made and he was also “on board”. The last of “Founding Fathers” is Roger Martin, younger than Nigel, Ron and Peter, who was also at the time working at Westwind and was also not happy there. Roger was recommended to Nigel and he made an approach. Roger Martin joined the other three; we had Loadpoint Bearings Founding Fathers……

Nigel Allen, Peter Fraser, Roger Martin and Ron Woolley.

1980s

The Original and the Replacement Spindle Test Result Books

1980s

Figure 16b Shows a LRM7 Spindle with Multiple Blades on it, this is called Gang Blade Dicing

1980s
Pope Precision Rotors Dorset Ltd

September 27th 1985 to April 2nd 1990

Chapter 4

Though owned by Brammer since September 1983 it was not until September 1985 that the company name was changed from Precision Rotors (Dorset) Ltd to Pope Precision Rotors Ltd.

Over the years I have been asked many times what the company was like to work for in the 1980’s and my answer might surprise a few. It was fun, a time of opportunity for the company and I really enjoyed it but it was completely different to how the company is today. Then there were no phones, no radios and almost no talking on the shop floor. The only noise was that very noisy old compressor that we used to have and the cuts on the machines. If you were on the shop floor now and were transported back to that time, you would find it somewhat strange in atmosphere but many of the jobs being done then were done exactly the same as they are now. The areas that have changed the most are in inspection, testing, balancing and design office. There were no computers in the factory until 1994.

1980s

Loadpoint Bearings Factory October 1985

1985

Loadpoint Bearings Factory October 1985

1985

The Design of Aerostatic Bearings Book

1980s

The Original Ransburg Drawings

1985
The Gathering of Expertise

April 2nd 1990 to December 31st 1997

Chapter 5

Home Front Room With Drawing Board. Note the drawings stuck on the Wall

1993

Over these years we will meet most of the people who would take the company forward. We will also see the departure of the last three Founding Fathers.

On the 2nd April 1990 Pope Precision Rotors Ltd was sold to Loadpoint Ltd and the name changed to Loadpoint Bearings Ltd. The same name we have today.

1990

Our longest serving employee, Geoff Mair on the Tacchella Grinding Machine in 1994

1994

Bernard Harvey on the Colchester Lathe in 1994

1994

David Gilham in front of Loadpoint Bearings First Computer in September 1994

1994

Dr Frank Wardle and Mr Sweet

1995

Jason Using AutoCAD 14

1997
A Golden Period

January 1st 1998 to December 31st 2000

Chapter 6

Over these years we will meet most of the people who would take the company forward. We will also see the departure of the last three Founding Fathers.

On the 2nd April 1990 Pope Precision Rotors Ltd was sold to Loadpoint Ltd and the name changed to Loadpoint Bearings Ltd. The same name we have today.

2000s

Inside the Loadpoint Ltd 1998 Catalogue

1998

The Taylor Hobson Ltd D04982 NanoSteel Spindle

2000s

Spindle Enquires, The Best and The Worst

“For me with over 3,500 spindle enquires to choose from it difficult to pick only one but if pressed, I would say the 4” D03541 ADT dicing spindle”.

“We have been making them for 22 years and we are now coming up to 600 spindles which equates to over one million pounds of orders for this one spindle design. There not many spindles you manufacture in this volume and for this length of time. In all honestly when you consider they go into a tough application and we had very few issues over the years it shows we must have nailed the spindle design back in 1997”.

David Gilham quote

2000s

LPE Logo is Similar to Loadpoint and Loadpoint Bearings Logos

2000

Mr Sweet with the Tetraform C Machine in around the year 2000

2000
Biding Time

January 1st 2001 to September 30th 2009

Chapter 7

Jon with the Muraki Staff on the Photonics Trade Show Stand in April 2015

2015

A Funny Day at the Office

In the first week of July 2009 Mr Sweet phoned Tony and told him that he needed to see both of us at Loadpoint Ltd the next day. It was important. Now bear in mind that over the years we have been called up to Loadpoint Ltd many times and the general rule is nothing ever happens. We always joked about it when on the drive home. Along the lines of that was “another day wasted”, or “what was today all about”, that sort of thing. However, that day, Tuesday 7th which is almost thirty years to the day since the company was formed, something did happen. It was anything but “a funny day at the office”.

2009

Opening Loadpoint Ltd and Loadpoint Bearings Ltd China Sales Office

2017

Today’s Loadpoint Bearings High Quality Brochure

2019
A New Beginning

October 1st 2009 to August 6th 2017

Chapter 8

Richard Broom and Jason Brailey Become Managers (February 2012)

2012

Goodbye Mr Sweet

We had bought Loadpoint Bearings Ltd. Mr Sweet had reluctantly accepted the take it or leave it offer. Loadpoint Bearings Ltd was saved and really it was “A New Beginning” for the company but we were going to need some luck along the way.

2009

David Gilham Signing The Legal Documents for Company Sale to GLTech

2017
Investing For The Future

August 7th 2017 – Onwards

Chapter 9

Jason Brailey Explaining the Future Factory Layout

2018

Unit B, Sterling Business Park, The First Staff Visit June 13th 2018

2018

Walls Being Prepped for Painting (December 4th 2018)

2018

Jon Parkes doing Some Last Minute Painting (January 18th 2019)

2019

Jon Moving the Machines Around in the New Factory (January 18th 2019)

2019

View From Rear Shutter Door (January 19th 2019)

2019

New Company Sign During Day Time

2019

Loadpoint Bearings Ltd 10100 Dicing Spindle

2019

Air Turbine Driven 160,000 RPM Air Bearing Spindle (D08459)

2019

Cutting the Red Ribbon

2019
The People of Loadpoint Bearings

It not always all about work, we do have fun as well

Chapter 10

Jon Parkes and William McDowell at the Loadpoint Bearings Ltd Presentation to GLTech, China

2017

Loadpoint Bearings Ltd Christmas Party 2004

2004

Gary Bradford Jetting, in 2005 and 2018

2005 & 2018

Loadpoint Bearings Ltd Christmas Party 2017

2017

The Loadpoint Bearings Ltd Board of Directors in 2019

2019
Loadpoint Bearings and the Future

The future is shaping up to be to a great one

Chapter 11

Richard, Jon and Jason, Loadpoint Bearings Ltd Directors and the Future

2019

The team outside our new factory

2019