2007 Tour of SME (with Brian Laker, Sales and Service Manager) British precision audio manufacturer of turntables and arms plus aerospace and defense parts. Home of "The best pick-up arm in the world."
SME was founded in 1946 by the late Managing Director Mr. Alastair Robertson-Aikman in Steyning, Sussex. Working from a shed at the bottom of his parents` garden he started to make accurate Scale Model Equipment from where the orginal name came. Products then included exhibition scale models and detail parts for the model engineering trade. Engineering sub-contract work followed in the 1950`s for many major high profile companies including Rolls Royce, Hawkers, the MOD etc., also experimental work for the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority and the atomic submarine industry with MOD and AID approval being held.
After making a prototype pick-up arm for his own use ARA then went into production of the Series 1 in 1959, the rest is history. Subsequently the company name was abbreviated to SME Limited. Ever since the success of the Series 1 the company has gone from strength to strength , always forward thinking and always eager to use the latest materials and technology to their best advantage. The culmination of all those years of experience is the magnificent Model 30/2A, bristling with unique ideas and hi-tech materials and this analogue statement now sells itself as there is always a waiting list and it comes with a reputation that is second to none.
Even after over 50 years at the helm Mr. Robertson-Aikman informally known as "ARA" still oversees the day to day running of the current SME factory which he built in the sixties and it still produces almost every component "in house". Facilities commence with CAD/CAM design and toolmaking and continue through to all aspects of manufacturing including conventional and CNC machining, pressure diecasting, injection moulding, metal finishing, electro-plating, anodising, enamelling and many other ancillary operations.
Inspection at every stage of manufacture and assembly is particularly critical and ensures the consistent standards for which SME is noted. This has now been formally recognised by The British Standards Institute after successful assessment of the Company`s Quality System and the award of "Registered Firm" status under BS EN ISO 9002 : 1994, and also by the Ministry of Defence with D.C.L. approval number 5KWS01. The "in house" approach and total dedication to quality is quite exceptional and is supported wholeheartedly by the fifty strong workforce. With 100% inspection including co-ordinate measuring machine facilities, every minute detail is important.
The factory is now regarded as one of the UK`s premier small engineering facilities crammed full of high-tech precision CNC machinery from such manufacturers as Frech, Arberg, Hardinge, Emco, Mori Seki etc, and an EDM mould making facility. The on site facilities also include an electro-plating shop, with copper, nickel, chrome, black chrome, gold and anodic processes amongst others. Cosmetic finishes are obtainable using linishing, polishing, vibratory finishing and vaqua-blasting. Precision sub-contract work now extends to Rolls Royce Cars, British Oxygen, Parker Pen, Ford Research & Development, Williams & Renault Formula One teams and Phillips Medical Systems, just to name a few. On site facilities also include stove enamelling and pad printing, in fact just about everything you need and more, to make a complete range of precision turntables and tone arms.