Our Partner in Production, Harford Control, design, build and maintain factory floor performance improvement solutions that help businesses optimise and sustain their internal processes. Their particular project was so interesting and innovative that we just have to share it with you…


Harford’s exhibition stand with their completed project
Harford’s exhibition stand with their completed project

A Creative Spark

Several years ago, the team at Harford Control decided to use a wide gauge train set as a fun way to exhibit their fully integrated systems. This wasn’t to fulfil a whimsical dream of owning a train set, but rather to showcase some of their excellent factory floor improvement systems. The hunt for flatbed trucks and trains began, and they started to make a large railway measuring about 10 x 14ft.

This train set would then be loaded with yoghurt, margarine and other similar products to mimic a production line and show in-line coding and labelling compliance, machine vision (component matching), OEE and paperless quality control.

Fresh, Educational Fun

This fun approach to showing Harford’s opportunities for performance improvement was successful, gaining admiration from both new and existing customers. Most of their competitors at exhibitions would often use conveyor systems, but the team at Harford brought a fresh breath to the scene. Not only was it fresh, it was extremely effective at demonstrating the various modules that make up their fully integrated, real time, factory floor solutions.

A work in progress, checking assemblies and positions

They reduce risks and costs and ultimately create a more streamlined operation. They are deeply involved within the food & beverage, pharmaceutical, cosmetic and chemical industries. OEE (overall equipment effectiveness) programming, on-line barcode scanning of pack and outer case barcodes, paperless quality and quantity control. The train set was also used for Vision applications such as tub and lid matching (yogurt pots) and date code reading (optical character recognition) to verify correct printing. A simple and totally awesome demonstration platform!

Standing Out from the Crowd

This creation proved very popular with engineers and helped Harford stand out from the multitude of exhibition stands. The size of the original railway track was too “beastly” however and many hours (more than Harford care to remember) were spent during the set up at each exhibition.  That’s when they called upon Freshlook to develop it into the final masterpiece, without losing any of its unique functionality.

From Prototype to Masterpiece

Our team started by looking at the existing prototype, working with Harford closely and discussing initial opportunities to streamline the train set. After the final decisions one of our lead designers, James Mepham, then translated the prototype into production drawings. A large, round table was agreed to create the base.

We started laser cutting from mild steel and stainless sheets. The table frame was DP1 stainless with a brushed finish to the metal, which supported a wooden top for the client to add access holes. We cladded the bottom frame assembly and added removable side panels for ease of dismantling and reassembly.

Our final site visit – seeing the freight train in action!

Working in Harmony

We powder coated the removable mild steel tabletop to help prolong its life and to give it an attractive finish. The tabletop has a wooden panel underneath to support the metalwork, with additional fittings attaching to the sides and top. The train set uses electricity to run and digital controls to perform its impressive demonstration, so we fabricated the housing for the electrical panel underneath the train set for final visual impact.

We supported Harford until the finished product was ready to be launched and were lucky to visit Harford during one of their exhibitions to see how it looked – it was fantastic! Check out the video below.  Thanks a lot guys!




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