DIGITISING A FAMILY BUSINESS 

Thermotex Engineering Limited, a family-owned and managed business, used Autodesk Fusion Lifecycle PLM to upgrade and modernise.

A family business. R to L: Beverley and Peter Watmore, company founders; daughter Chloe, MD, and son-in-law Joe, Sales Executive.

Chesterfield-based Thermotex Engineering Ltd supplies specialist insulation and protective solutions to customers in energy, process and construction industries. Now 25 years old and with 20 employees, it was founded by the parents of current MD Chloe Watmore, who was tasked with making the company ‘future fit’. 

Thermotex’ ingrained customs and practices needed to be updated. The process of change was not easy but Chloe put in the time and effort to build relationships, addressing concerns that automation and digitisation would threaten jobs, learning from the team and understanding what caused headaches and bottlenecks. 

The existing manual, paper-based systems were susceptible to human error. Thermotex had avoided disaster and done rather well but, while the legacy structure was not suitable for purpose, plenty from its 25 years of existence was priceless. 

“I wanted to capture the knowledge and experience of my parents, the company founders, and that of the team, and make sure it would be available for years to come,” Chloe said. Fusion Lifecycle PLM (product lifecycle management) was the solution. 

“We worked with d2m3, an Autodesk partner and PLM solutions provider and integrator, who helped us develop an iPad app,” she continued. “We now have an easy to use, simple user interface, and a system that provides accurate tracking and tracing through production.” Thermotex manufactures to order, rather than batches, and introduced unique serial coding with QR codes on all products. 

“We work with some very big companies and ISO accreditation is very important. It gives us credibility,” Chloe explained. “Fusion Lifecycle enabled us to become ISO 9001:2015; we added 45001 health and safety, and then 14001 environmental.” 

Embedding ISO-accredited processes through Fusion Lifecycle has had another benefit. 

“Because of the system’s stage-gated design, we naturally have more security. People understand the process flow, without having to write Standard Operating Procedures. They are ingrained.” Larger companies have been particularly impressed with what Thermotex has achieved on tracking and management systems. 

“We recently won our largest-ever contract, directly as a result of our digitisation strategy,” Chloe Watmore said. “It’s unlocked something else, too: hunger to grow the business, which we can now do, from a stable foundation.”