A Cumbrian-based company that designs and installs critical power monitoring, control, and alarm technology to safeguard electrical safety in applications ranging from hospitals to submarines has increased its turnover and employed 20 more staff as it continues to grow its business across the UK and Ireland.

Gareth Brunton, managing director of Bender UK, in Ulverston, said the business was on track to deliver growth in turnover of more than 20 per cent in 2023 compared to the previous year. He expects the company to follow a similar growth trajectory in 2024, with plans to employ up to 30 more people to reach a target of £40m by the year end.

“It’s been another record year for us, and it’s been really prosperous in terms of profit,” says Gareth.

“We’ve seen a significant number of new people come into the team this year. What has been really encouraging is that the actual bottom line is growing significantly.”

Bender UK is part of the Bender Group, employing over 1,200 people worldwide, with representation in over 100 countries.

Walther Hans Bender founded the business over 75 years ago, in Grünberg, Hessen, Germany. The company is renowned for manufacturing solutions that monitor and maintain critical power systems to provide advanced warning of electrical failure and to keep systems running in the event of an outage.

The Mail: BenderBender (Image: Bender)Bender equipment is used in sectors such as healthcare, rail, oil and gas, data centres, maritime and electrical vehicle charging.

A large part of its business is in hospitals where its systems ensure that critical, life-supporting equipment is always running.

“There has been a lot of investment from the government and private hospitals in that area,” says Gareth.

“We have a really strong team in healthcare that’s been established for a long time, and I could probably say that we are in a leading position across the UK and Ireland to deliver the best possible holistic solution, from initial design advice through to ongoing service and maintenance of the finished systems. This is an area that will continue to go from strength to strength.”

Ninety per cent of hospitals use the company’s equipment, including the Royal Lancaster Infirmary, Furness General Hospital in Barrow, and Westmorland General Hospital in Kendal.

It also supplies clinical equipment including LED surgical lights and Bender theatre control panels, which hospital staff use to regulate everything in the theatre environment, including temperature, lighting, and humidity.

Outside of healthcare, the second strongest market in the UK has been working alongside Network Rail as it upgrades its signal power systems.

This involves using Bender technology to predict and diagnose electrical faults, pinpointing exactly where faults are located, as well as collating data into regular reports indicating where and how problems may be developing.

It is also involved with innovative research and development projects, with the aim of using its equipment to monitor primary power supply points at Euston Station.

“We’re being innovative and branching into using our relationships and previous excellent performance to try to develop other areas,” says Gareth.

The company has also been working closely with BAE Systems, supporting both submarine and infrastructure projects, says Gareth.

The Mail: Gareth Brunton, managing director of Bender UKGareth Brunton, managing director of Bender UK (Image: Bender)“We are also retrofitting frigates in other shipyards in Devonport, for example, and bringing some of those up to modern standards.”

The company’s maritime activities also include an increasing amount of work on super yachts to supply systems which give an early warning of the possibility of power outages or the risk of fire.

It is collaborating with its German parent company to integrate artificial intelligence into the systems it uses throughout various sectors and has also taken on an intern from the University of Manchester to focus on this specific area.

“It’s really exciting because we have been trying to develop an online monitoring solution, which at this stage needs human intervention,” says Gareth.

“At the moment we assess the data and compile the reports to understand what is happening. We see AI as being the advancement that takes that all away.”

As part of its growth plans, Bender UK is also investing in new areas in its headquarters, Ulverston, where potential customers can see its equipment in action.

This includes upgrading its own demonstration operating theatre - originally installed in 2018 - by extending it, modernising the equipment, and creating an intensive care area alongside. It will also add a seminar area capable of hosting over 40 guests.

“We don’t want to just focus on healthcare with the demonstration operating room, we will have the ability to showcase capability in our industrial and engineering capabilities as well,” says Gareth.

“We are planning to connect our smart monitoring systems in the building so we can showcase it to people externally, as well as investment in an extension to our electric vehicle charging car park, capable of DC fast charging with technologies from both Bender and our customers installed.”

Gareth says as well as growing its own operation, it is also important for Bender to continue supporting local initiatives such as sponsoring local youth teams and sports clubs.

It also plays an active part in delivering events such as science and technology festival UlverSTEM.

“Aside from an 18-month spell in the Midlands, I have always lived in Furness and my heart will always be here,” says Gareth.

“We’re focused on doing whatever we can to make Furness a great place to live and attracting and retaining people for the good of everybody."