Five minutes with Dave Evenett, Group Sales Director, Paneltex

24 February 2022 #Uncategorised

Paneltex recently took on 12 new engineering apprentices.  How have you benefited from your apprenticeship scheme?
Paneltex is a company founded on people, and we’re always looking for new talent that we can develop. The apprenticeship scheme allows young people to experience all different aspects of the business, so they have a better idea of the career they would like to pursue with Paneltex. We have a lot of long-time employees with industry knowledge they can share, which helps reinforce our processes and bring our teams closer together as well as educating the apprentices.

One of the big challenges in manufacturing and engineering is increasing diversity, and recruiting young people through programmes like the apprenticeship scheme does away with the barriers to entry that women and minorities can face in STEM fields. Our apprentices often find themselves enjoying and doing well in jobs they had never even heard of, or wouldn’t have thought they had the skillset to apply for.

Last year Paneltex opened a new export kitting facility. How important is this division to the company?
Our export kitting facility is a continuation of the work we were previously doing at our main site in Hull. Moving the division to its own facility has given us a fantastic opportunity to refine the way we do things and to trial new ideas, and it’s given us a template for how to best improve the rest of our lines. The move has coincided with a number of continuous improvement initiatives and the expansion of our manufacturing engineering and process improvement teams. Because the facility is a microcosm of our wider manufacturing processes, it has operated almost as a beta-testing site. We’ve had incredible successes with a lot of the methods pioneered there, and we’re continuing to use that facility to refine the work we do at Paneltex.

Tell us about your work as a conversion partner for LEVC?
We’ve been working with greener vehicles for over a decade, so working as LEVC’s official conversion partner has been a really rewarding project for us. With the VN5 van, we’ve made a vehicle that can run on battery power alone for up to 60 miles while powering the fridge, which is perfect for operating in clean air and low-emission zones, then use the petrol engine to extend the range outside the low-emission zones. We wanted to make our conversions as efficient as possible, so most of the battery power is used for range instead of powering the fridge. We’ve used ultra-lightweight panels and the most efficient insulation we can, maximising quality and thermal performance.

Has the coronavirus crisis provided any opportunities for Paneltex?
We’ve been very fortunate during Covid-19: obviously, we build vehicles for a lot of essential sectors – home delivery and pharmaceuticals at the forefront – so our demand has been increasing. We’ve seen a fair bit of growth in 2020 and 2021 beyond our expectations, and even with the material supply issues that all companies have been facing, we’ve been able to continue production according to our schedule.

How important is SMMT membership to Paneltex?
SMMT membership is massively important to Paneltex. They do so much work for our industry, helping companies like us develop our market and supporting us in supplying our customers. It’s important to us that we make sure all our production falls in line with SMMT’s expectations, as their influence in the UK automotive industry means their approval is a great comment on the technical quality of our products. Their resources allow us to strategise and plan effectively, as they have data we wouldn’t be able to collect by ourselves. SMMT also gives us and other members a fantastic platform to use our expertise in shaping policy and guiding government in regulating the automotive sector.

Dave Evenett, Group Sales Director, Paneltex

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