After years of working at prestigious engineering companies, Stewart Bennison decided it was time to go it alone, and in 1985 he founded Palamatic with his wife Sue. Stewart brought with him an abundance of experience, having previously worked as a sales mechanical engineer, service engineer and he then designed ranges of machines to automatically open bags and sacks of hazardous products. Starting out in the dining room of their house, along with some rented space in a Sheffield-based fabrication shop, Stewart developed a new range of Automatic Sack Opening Machines, and also secured a distributorship to bring the first ever Vacuum Tube Lifter product into the UK.
Attending many trade shows up and down the UK, it was clear to see both products were in high demand, as many manufacturers were experiencing lots of problems with dusty working environments and trying to lift heavy loads causing lots of inefficiency through absenteeism.
In 1990, Palamatic launched its own band of Vacuum Tube Lifter – Pal-U-Lift and took the whole concept of vacuum tube lifting to the next level. This increased weight capacities from 60kg max to 350kg, developed end-effectors to vacuum grip on the side rather than just top lifting; the company quickly met a global need for more bespoke lifting solutions that really solved the lifting and handling issues of operators.
The company also launched two major Auto Sack Opening Machines – MiniSlit 2000 and later in the decade, the Rota Slit. The Rota Slit soon became the number one favourite of the oil & gas drilling platforms, opening the products for the Mud Mix to lubricate the drilling heads.
In 2000, after an excellent decade of global growth for both the Vacuum Tube Lifter range and the Auto Sack Opening machines, the company had to make decisions about which direction next. The Far East crash at the end of the 90’s stopped a key regional revenue stream, but the growing team at Palamatic turned what was initially a real challenge for a small UK engineering business and turned it into an opportunity. The company went on to win a SMART grant to develop a range of Baggage Handling and Windscreen Handling solutions, which then took the company into solutions for the Automotive sector. At the time, this industry was unhappy with total automation and were looking for Lift-Assists for their lineside assemblers.
2002 was the start of something big for Palamatic - repeatedly asked for Vacuum Tube Lifters for cleanroom environments, they worked with key partners who were specialised in containment and the demands of the Pharmaceutical manufacturers. Soon after, the Vacuum Tube Lifter had been converted into the PalPharmaVac ™, with built-in filtration and a fully hand demountable design for “chuck-it-in-a-bucket” cleaning regimes! Never before had there been such an-easy-to-use solution for operators working with full PPE in DownFlow Booths, and Cleanroom lifting and pouring drums and emptying expensive powders out of sacks. The PalPharma Handling Solutions range now consists of over 12 product ranges (see our PalPharma section), all designed to meet the specific needs within cGMP manufacturing environments. The PalPharmaVac is still a unique solution to this day!
Fast-forward to today, and Palamatic is still at the cutting edge of design, driven by our desire to solve, not just the simple, but the more complex lifting and handling applications. Working in challenging manufacturing sectors such as pharmaceuticals, food, packaging, logistics and construction, Stewart’s philosophy of taking the time to listen to the customer, observe and learn about the operation, and then apply the appropriate technology to solve the problem, remains as strong as ever within our organisation as it did back in 1985. This is also reflected by our worldwide partner network who are carefully selected, trained and supported. We also recruit, train and develop our in-house team based on this approach too.