PMF looks into Universal Turbos, a company that supplies turbochargers to a variety of industries and champions the need for remanufacturing.
Starting off in 1988, Universal Turbos has become renowned as ‘best in class’ throughout many industries. The company’s Managing Director, Grahame Page, explained, “When we began, we were targeting the automotive sector, but due to our location in Hampshire, we began attracting marine and agricultural customers as well.”
Grahame added that at the time, there was a need for diversification, but this has also proven to be a key instrument for the business’ growth; whilst the company is a dedicated specialist in turbochargers, its expertise is now translated into automotive, motorcycle, marine, off-highway and agricultural sectors, supplying turbochargers to customers throughout the UK and overseas.
Consequently, the specialist turbo repair and remanufacturing market is undergoing a resurgence, as Technical Director, James Hard, explained: “In 2007, around the time of the recession, we recognised the need to remanufacture more products to meet growing demand.” This, according to James, coincided with the rise of Melett, a specialist turbocharger and parts manufacturer.
“Melett and ourselves sat down and looked at how we could do business together – and we’ve never looked back,” added James. “For a remanufacturer/reconditioner like ourselves, we need to fit the finest quality parts, and Melett excels in this area. Furthermore, we have complete confidence in Melett parts and the information that they provide, which enables full traceability on all parts.
“Supplying independent garages has also taught us a lot, and this has been a great testing ground for our knowledge and expertise because the selection of the correct turbo for a vehicle has become more complex and we have to take customers through a process of elimination to find the right product for them.”
This hand-holding exercise is something Universal has come to accept, and the company puts some of the problems down to the technology available. James elaborated, “Fault finding has become tougher because of diagnostics and the fact that the industry has been taught to trust the computer with all the answers. Vehicle manufacturers can change turbo suppliers and, as a result, we can have five different versions of a turbo for one vehicle make and model.
This know-how – and capacity to supply volume – has meant that Universal is able to reach and support different types of buyers, such as motor factors, buying groups, and warehouse distributors with complete new and exchange units.
As a result, it credits itself with changing the perception of remanufacturing, alongside the investment put in to servicing customers from companies such as Melett. Expenditure on new equipment, tooling and people are the three largest areas of investment for Universal.
At the company’s 8000ft2 premises in the heart of Hampshire, there is a ‘callcentre’ room where staff begin the process of diagnosing faults and processing orders before the production facility commences the rebuilding or remanufacture of the turbo.
It begs the question, does the automotive industry, or any other industry for that matter, fully appreciate the level of expertise that goes into remanufacturing a turbocharger? Nevertheless, for Universal, it’s all part of the process, and James added: “We train people from scratch and teach them the ‘Universal’ way. The process is what’s needed to arrive at the highest quality repair. There are companies that compete on price alone, whereas Universal’s focus is on quality and service, hence why working with quality parts manufacturers such as Melett is integral to our business.
Listening to Grahame Page’s testimony, it’s clear why Melett is “essential” to Universal Turbos. “Our product relies on Melett products,” said Grahame. “The service, technical support, stock, next-day delivery and information shared shows us that Melett is a company with the same values as our own.”
Looking forward, both Grahame and James Hard believe there is a bright future for the turbocharger in an electric environment, thanks largely to the efficiencies it brings. James added, “Smaller capacity engines are more powerful than ever before and, thanks to turbochargers, more economical.
James concluded, “Thanks to our infrastructure, capacity and the continuing support from Melett, we are ideally positioned to work with like-minded companies that care about quality and service, and, as a result, can provide a solution across multiple industries and applications.”