In a small factory in Bicester, Oxfordshire, you will find Andura’s head office. The company has been based here since 1985, predominantly specialising in exterior masonry coatings, but more recently expanding into interior paints.
When the company started, they had a couple of choices on how to enter the market. Either mass produce products to a price point and try to compete with companies such as Dulux and Crown, or, use high quality raw materials and decades of industry experience to produce a higher quality alternative to ‘off the shelf’ paints. Andura chose the latter.
Due to this, Andura has always chosen to target coatings specialists and professional painter and decorators for their products. As this is the market that would benefit most from products that are quicker to apply, last longer and leave a superior finish.
Andura is a small team of just 12 people, pictured above are the 3 directors, George, Danny and Heather receiving the BBA certification for our Classic 21 masonry coating, Jasmine our sales and accounts administrator and Jon our business development manager. We also have technical, production and warehouse staff, who are slightly more camera shy!
Here at Andura, we have always taken great pride in the quality of coatings and paint we produce.
You’ll notice on the walls there are several independent approvals for our products, from prestigious bodies such as the BBA, Paint Research Association (PRA) and numerous laboratories.
However, we have always believed there are two factors to manufacturing. Firstly, you need to produce a quality product (this is why we opted to have our products independently tested) and secondly, you need to be able to ensure you can manufacture that product to the exact same standard, every single time.
To ensure the consistency in what we manufacture, we operate in accordance with the business management system, BSI and we are proud to be ISO 9001 certified.
As you walk up the stairs to the offices, you’ll notice a number of our product brochures from over the years, along with some of our more recent designs for our interior paint cans.
Once upstairs you’ll find the main office and meeting room. In the main office is Jasmine, Heather and Jon, who cover everything from sales to marketing and accounts. Being a small team means that staff will often cover a lot of different roles within the business. It’s not unusual for someone to be developing a marketing plan one minute and then in the warehouse packing orders the next!
There is a strong culture within Andura that everyone works together towards a common goal. We believe this is one of the reasons our staff are so loyal. Of the 12 staff we currently have, 5 have been with Andura for over 20 years and 2 have just celebrated their 30th anniversary!
Back downstairs you’ll find the factory. In this photo you can see the powders and pigments, the large containers of solvents and the mixers that produce 800 litre batches at a time. There are also barrels of resins, and a network of ventilation pipes to ensure proper health and safety.
The factory can produce up to 20,000 litres of coatings and paints every week.
There are 4 main ingredients to making coatings and paints:
- Resin. Often referred to as the binder or backbone of the paint, the resin is what holds everything together. A good quality resin is expensive, but essential to a high-performance coating
- Solvents. This refers to the liquids in the product. It could be a variant on white spirit, or water. The ratio of liquids to volume solids in a paint is crucial.
- Powders and pigments. High quality powders and pigments make a huge difference on many aspects of a paint’s performance, opacity being one of the biggest.
- Additives. This is the category that covers everything else that goes in the paint and this is where the real chemistry and decades of industry experience really comes into play. Additives can be used for altering numerous areas of performance, from how fast the paint dries, how it flows and levels out. Even down to how long it’ll last in the can before going off!
Raw Material Storage
On site we store many containers and pallets full of raw materials. Solvents and resins are often delivered to us in large tankers.
The lab at Andura has a couple of main functions. Firstly, this is where our research and development team are always working on new products, enhancing existing products and making sure we are always up to date with the latest guidelines on what can and can’t go into our products. The second function of the lab is quality control. Before any product is filled, it must be checked for a number of things, such as viscosity, opacity and colour. These processes are all meticulously recorded, as are any adjustments that need to be made. As part of our ISO 9001 standard, we also keep a small 250ml tin of every single batch we produce. This means that even if a potential product failure is not spotted until years later, we can go back to the exact batch in question and test the actual paint or coating again.
Not only do we test and record everything that leaves the factory, but we also test everything that comes in. Every delivery we receive is tested before we accept it. This way we can be sure that every powder, solvent and resin is exactly as it should be.
Filling and warehouse
Once our products have passed all the quality control checks, they are ready to be filled and stored in the warehouse.
The warehouse can store up to 100,000 litres of paint and we also have an off-site storage facility for when we need it.
We always aim for next day delivery at Andura – order by 3pm for pallets, 12pm for parcels, so in busy periods when thousands of litres are despatched every day, it really is all hands on deck!
The product in here doesn’t tend to spend long on the shelves, but as an added precaution, if any of our paints or coatings are not sold within 2 years, they must go back through the quality control procedure before they can be sold.