Export boom lands Queen’s Award for Arrowsmith Engineering
Left to right: Jason Aldridge and Steve Jackson, CNC programmer at Arrowsmith Engineering
A Coventry-based aerospace supplier that has pivoted to supply critical parts for ventilators is celebrating after it received the Queen’s Award for International Trade.
Arrowsmith Engineering, which employs 76 people at its Bayton Road factory, secured the prestigious accolade after it recorded a 996 percent increase in export activity over the last three years, supplying precision components to global manufacturers including Rolls-Royce, GKN, ITP and Siemens.
The company’s parts are used in aerospace engines, landing gears and air frames, with recent wins seeing sales rise to £7.6 million and investment in the latest CNC robotics paving the way for 10 percent growth in 2020.
Bosses at the firm believe the Queen’s Award will play an important role in further expansion in Brazil, Germany, Singapore, Spain and the United States.
“This is the highest honour a company can achieve and is a fitting tribute to the strides we have made to become a global aerospace supplier,” explains managing director Jason Aldridge.
“To be able to display the Queen’s Award logo on our letterhead, in marketing material and across all of our communication channels will be a massive boost to our business and will definitely generate new opportunities in overseas markets.
“Importantly, the award is a massive thank you to our staff, who continue to go above and beyond in meeting the exacting standards of the aerospace sector, and in recent weeks, the NHS ventilator push.”
Arrowsmith Engineering, which is part of the Aero Services Global Group, has been lending its manufacturing expertise to support the frontline fight against COVID-19 after being invited by Rolls-Royce Control Systems and Rolls-Royce in Derby to join their ventilator supply chains.
Despite having 25 percent of shop floor staff self-isolating, the company responded immediately to the nationwide effort by creating a dedicated team to produce prototype and production parts for the Smiths ventilator assembly line.
In total, more than 60,000 ventilator components have been delivered and a further order has now been placed to manufacture prototype parts for a new type of ventilator currently undergoing testing.
“Our team are working two, 12-hour shifts every day and night to deliver the volumes expected, with all of the initial parts now supplied and being assembled,” continues Jason Aldridge, who is also chairman of the Coventry & Warwickshire Aerospace Forum (CWAF).
“This has been a phenomenal effort by everyone involved and we have successfully been able to transfer our precision aerospace engineering knowledge to create the necessary tooling and tolerances required for life-saving parts.
“All of this has been carried out with the Government’s social distancing measures in place, hence splitting the shifts in two and ensuring that 85 percent of office staff are set up to work from home. Our staff are fantastic and we have to protect them as well as supporting the NHS.”
Arrowsmith Engineering is a specialist in precision turning, milling, thread rolling and grinding, providing components to aerospace tier 1s and primes in titanium, nimonics, stainless steel, exotic metal and engineering plastics.
The company has also recently been awarded the ADS SC21 Silver Award for delivering world class manufacturing performance, with ‘On Time in Full’ at 98.5 percent and quality running at 99.95 percent for the past twelve months.
Renishaw ramps up production of ventilator components
Global engineering company, Renishaw has started mass-producing critical components for medical ventilators, as part of a nationwide effort to support the NHS in the fight against Covid-19. The company has dedicated a significant part of its manufacturing sites in Gloucestershire and South Wales to produce precision-machined components for two different ventilators manufactured by the VentilatorChallengeUK consortium, with production at the sites now running seven days a week. This follows a huge effort from the project, manufacturing engineering and production teams over the last two weeks.
Like many companies across the UK, Renishaw reacted to the UK government’s call to radically increase ventilator production to treat coronavirus patients suffering with respiratory complications. Tens of thousands of these complex machines are needed in just a few weeks.
Marc Saunders, director of group strategic development, who is leading Renishaw’s response, explains: “When the government called, we scrambled to respond and immediately realised the daunting scale of the challenge. Ventilators are sophisticated medical devices and we felt that our capabilities would be best applied to helping scale up the production of designs with existing technologies. We soon realised that many other industrial companies were thinking the same way and that we would need our combined capacity and capabilities to achieve this enormous endeavour.”
Within a few days, Renishaw joined with leading companies in the aerospace, automotive, medical devices and motorsport sectors to form the VentilatorChallengeUK consortium, under the leadership of Dick Elsy, CEO of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult. This diverse team is working non-stop to boost production of two proven ventilators, selected by the NHS and manufactured in the UK by Penlon and Smiths Medical.
Dick Elsy explains: “Penlon and Smiths ordinarily have combined capacity of between 50 and 60 ventilators per week. However, thanks to the scale and resources of the wider consortium, we are targeting production of at least 1,500 units a week of the Penlon and Smiths models combined within a matter of weeks. Ventilators are intricate and highly complex pieces of medical equipment and it is vital that we balance the twin imperatives of speed of delivery with the absolute adherence to regulatory standards that is needed to ensure patient safety.”
Within this context, Renishaw’s manufacturing activities form part of a complex network of suppliers that the consortium is coordinating, many of whom, like Renishaw, are making ventilator components for the first time. Mass-production of ventilators, each of which comprises hundreds of diverse components, requires millions of parts to come together for assembly, a huge logistical operation.
“To prepare for the important work that we are undertaking, both for the ventilator project and our global customers in critical supply chains, we temporarily closed our UK manufacturing facilities last week to introduce additional measures to protect the welfare of our employees”, explains Gareth Hankins, director of group manufacturing services at Renishaw.
“We have reorganised our factories to increase spacing, as well as zoning areas to restrict movement around the sites. Hygiene regimes have also been enhanced to minimise the potential risk of the spread of infection. Our staff have responded magnificently to this challenging situation and it is wonderful to see the factories back up and running and for us to be playing our part in the national Ventilator Challenge.”
Marc Saunders reflects: “It has been an extraordinary few weeks, with so many companies from different fields aligning on a single goal and pulling together so effectively and so quickly. The VentilatorChallengeUK consortium is working together with incredible determination and energy to scale up production of much-needed ventilators and combat a virus that is affecting people around the world.
“The consortium’s key message is that ‘Every ventilator produced is a life saved’ and Renishaw is proud to be playing its part in this vital endeavour.”
UK-based Renishaw is a world leading engineering technologies company, supplying products used for applications as diverse as jet engine and wind turbine manufacture, through to dentistry and brain surgery. It has over 4,500 employees located in the 36 countries where it has wholly owned subsidiary operations.
For the year ended June 2019 Renishaw recorded sales of £574 million of which 94 percent was due to exports. The company’s largest markets are the USA, China, Japan and Germany.
Throughout its history, Renishaw has made a significant commitment to research and development, with historically between 13 and 18 percent of annual sales invested in R&D and engineering. The majority of this R&D and manufacturing of the company’s products is carried out in the UK.
The company’s success has been recognised with numerous international awards, including eighteen Queen’s Awards recognising achievements in technology, export and innovation.