Fermanagh disinfectant firm MTS acquires part of Element operation

MTS managing director Neville McElwaine
Gary McDonald Business Editor

A LISNASKEA disinfectant firm which provides non-destructive integrity testing services and hygiene equipment for the food, drinks and pharmaceutical industries has acquired an arm of the London-based international company Element, a leading global provider of testing, inspection and certification (TIC) services with annual revenues of $800 million.

The family-owned McElwaine Technical Services (MTS), funded in 1996 and which employs 21 staff in Fermanagh, Bristol, Cumbria and Glasgow, has expanded its product offering in recent years by partnering with world-leading companies in process and packaging hygiene and electrochemical activation.

And managing director Neville McElwaine insists "there will definitely be job creation opportunities both within MTS in Lisnaskea and in the local supply base” as a result of its link with Element.

MTS Element's non-destructive testing and inspection team will now consolidate its role as a leading provider of testing services and the processing of hygiene equipment for the food, beverage and pharmaceutical industries from its Fermanagh headquarters.

Element, a company which can trace its origins back to 1827, provides scientists, engineers and technologists working in a global network of 200 laboratories and supports customers from early R&D through complex regulatory approvals and into production, ensuring their products, materials, processes and services are safe, compliant and fit for purpose.

Mr McElwaine said: “Integrating Element's non-destructive testing business into MTS is a further step in our strategy to bring world-class products and services to a core customer base in the food, beverage and pharma sectors.

“While what we do might sound rather technical to the layman, it all boils down to food and drink producers ensuring that each manufacturing or processing plant is maintained in a condition that allows safe production of food before it goes out to you and me.

“We use electrochemical activation, a process where food grade salt and drinkable water can be mixed and passed through an electrical process to produce a powerful sanitiser.

“This means it can displace conventional chemicals, and it offers a wholly sustainable means of producing a sanitiser that is approved for use with food as well as in many other applications.”

Mr McElwaine says the acquisition will add to the customer base in GB, and provide opportunities to cross-sell the range of equipment and capabilities in the MTS portfolio.

Only the equipment and business (customer contracts) relating to Element's non-destructive testing work in the liquid food and beverage sectors have been acquired by MTS.

With operations in both Northern Ireland and Britain, Mr McElwaine also believes the NI Protocol will have advantages and disadvantages for the company.

”There is obviously value for EU equipment manufacturers in having local UK-based representation.

“Northern Ireland, by virtue of the Protocol, provides a unique position of being able to offer access to both the EU and GB markets. MTS is well positioned to leverage the Protocol for economic growth.

“But there is also a down-side in that equipment manufacturers outside UK are faced with the UK ceasing to recognise ‘CE' marks for product conformity, and is replacing the system with its own conformity mark under ‘UKCA'. This presents added complexity and cost,” he says.

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