With the current economic climate being what it is companies who are ­flexible and responsive to current market demands are coming up trumps as Michelle Winny, Editor of Electronics finds out during a visit to test equipment supplier, Microlease at their UK offices and test facility.

Arriving at the head office of test equipment supplier, Microlease there is an instant swathe of welcoming hospitality, which leads to first impressions of it being a well run ship. This is reflected on meeting with Head of Business Development and Marketing, George Acris who, whilst on a guided tour of the site provides a comprehensive account of the history and working ethos of the company.

Speaking with enthusiasm, Acris explains that the company has recently relocated to the larger premises it now occupies at Waverly Industrial Estate in Harrow, Middlesex; a convenient location with easy access to Heathrow, the M1, M25 and London.

Following the move the company set about tailoring its new premises with a list of alterations to accommodate its 100 strong UK workforce though totalling around 242 globally across the UK, Europe and US.

The company was founded in 1979 by David Rennie with an initial business strategy of buying a stock of test equipment and renting it out on variable ­leasing terms. This specifically included short-term rentals, which proved very popular and the company quickly evolved to introduce more services.

Acris explains: “We help our ­customers to lower costs and improve efficiency by providing solutions that make things quick, easy and cost effective. We simply match customer needs with the best solution- from a one week rental, to a long-term lease- one-time purchase to full asset management and with this philosophy the company has progressed to become a UK based success story on an ­international scale.’

To date the company specialises in leasing test equipment for global ­projects. This is made particularly attractive to customers by a comprehensive knowledge of international regulations, restrictions and custom requirements throughout the world. The company prides itself on its intimate knowledge of the industry and ability to provide test solutions with next-day availability.

A history of success is reflected in the company’s earnings with a reported £48 million turnover in 2011 year end, totalling a 30 percent growth year-on-year. This is anticipated to almost double in 2012, bolstered by the acquisition of MetricTest in October 2011; a US-based solution provider for buying, renting and leasing new and refurbished electronic test equipment.

This company was established 20 years ago by Marshall Hart having achieved strong business growth and, like Microlease, has forged strong relationships with most of the major Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) including JDSU, Agilent Technologies, Tektronix, Advantest, Anritsu, Keithley and Rohde & Schwarz.

As a result of the acquisition, Microlease anticipates income in the US will exceed $50 million in the current financial year and more than $90 million in the following 12 month period.

These figures reflect the growing trend towards the use of the equipment rental market and just how developed the rental concept is.

Acris advises: ‘With the current economic environment it makes sense to take advantage of the rental market as reduced visibility allows shorter-term leasing; rental payments are 100 percent tax-deductible so SME’s and larger companies receive financial benefits.’

Microlease also offers a service in refurbished equipment along with rent-to-buy, asset management and ­equipment disposal facilities. Acris summarises with the company’s maxim of ‘Rent, recycle and reuse.’

Along with its other site renovations the company has installed an advanced mobile shelving storage system, designed by Kardex Remstar a Swiss company who manufacture computer controlled automated storage and retrieval systems.

The shelving bays run on mobile carriages, which are then moved along rails enabling engineers at the site to create interchangeable access aisles.  

The system is centrally automated featuring a 44 tier racking system where equipment is located via a barcode tracking system. The system is a nifty piece of equipment that Acris advises cost in the region of £300,000 to purchase and install.

Acquisition and development has been the driving force of the company and a whirlwind of development has spirited the company into the New Year. In October 2011 the company was awarded an open-ended contract to supply its newly acquired LEO asset management service and support software for Europe’s own global navigation satellite system.

The Galileo programme, which is managed by the European Space Agency (ESA) on behalf of the European Union, has been designed to provide an accurate, guaranteed global positioning service.

When it is complete, ESA Galileo will comprise a global network of 30 satellites providing precise timing and location information to users both on the ground and in the air.

Following the completion of a series of systems acceptance tests, it was confirmed that LEO would be deployed to create and co-ordinate the planned maintenance programme for worldwide Ground Control assets in the ESA Galileo Project. Specifically, the solution will hold data for the ground station assets at the Galileo control centre in Oberpfaffenhofen, Bavaria and at other sites deployed across the globe.

Taking such working practice in example, in austere times such as these any cost saving measures or ways for a smoother more efficient running business can only be embraced and learnt from.

So perhaps the future success for many lies in similar flexibility and resourceful business practice.