Almost 10 years ago, JCB chief executive officer Lord Anthony Bamford (image: third from left) had a vision for educating the next generation of engineers and The JCB Academy was established in 2010. Recognised as the first of a brand new kind of school in the UK, The JCB Academy has a core focus on delivering high quality engineering and business education. To ensure education is vocationally suitable for future generations of engineers, The JCB Academy is supported by metrology experts Mitutoyo (https://is.gd/ibeliy).

Learners at the academy commence studies from Year 9 (13 years of age) and undertake the full educational curriculum of GSCE and A-level subjects through to foundation degrees, studying to full business hours, with additional engineering and business disciplines being part of The JCB Academy ethos.

The JCB Academy

The growth of the academy since its inception has seen school-age learner numbers increase to over 400. In 2013, the academy expanded its scope, opening the doors to accept its first intake of apprentices. Since 2013, apprentice numbers have grown from an annual intake of 40 to over 140 students in 2017. Apprenticeships at the academy are available in welding and fabrication, engineering and business operations.

To accommodate this growth, Lord Bamford opened a £1.2 million apprentice training centre in 2017, housed in the former Dove First School, a stone’s-throw away from The JCB Academy. This state-of-the-art facility in the re-furbished school incorporates a metrology department that is fully supported by Mitutoyo and is now recognised as a Mitutoyo Satellite Centre.

Sponsored by JCB, the academy has core challenge partners that include Bentley Motors, Network Rail and Rolls-Royce. Each of these companies contributes to developing the unique curriculum and learning techniques.

To deliver the curriculum, the JCB Academy has employed academic specialists with an established industrial background. Pivotal to the installation of Mitutoyo metrology and inspection equipment was Graham Rowley, the team leader for technical delivery. With over 24 years’ industrial experience prior to working in academia, he says: “JCB realised that to develop the engineers of tomorrow, the company needed a state-of-the-art training facility with experienced staff and cutting-edge technology. I was personally tasked with identifying the inspection equipment that would best serve our learners and prepare them for a future in engineering.

It was recognised that inspection and metrology are core subjects for all engineering disciplines, so we set about configuring a metrology department that would be both suitable for our learners and relevant for industry.

“Mitutoyo is a brand that has struck a chord with me personally. As an apprentice in 1979, I recall how we used to specify Mitutoyo micrometers, as they were the first manufacturer of high quality carbide-tipped micrometers. Back then, the quality of Mitutoyo precision instruments stood above all else. Through my working life, Mitutoyo has always played a large role in the metrology equipment used; always delivering precise and reliable equipment with service and support that has always been first class. All this still rings true today.”

Continues Rowley: “We went to a number of suppliers for quotes and Mitutoyo stood out for a number of reasons. Firstly, the company was more engaged with our needs. What they initially spoke to us about was somewhat different to our requirements. They suggested that if we bought a slightly different area of kit, we could deliver this new stand-alone metrology department. We altered our order accordingly and went with Mitutoyo’s suggestions. We are now going to be one of Mitutoyo’s Satellite Centres.”

WORKING WITH THE EDUCATION SECTOR

Another reason for opting to work with Mitutoyo was its approach and willingness to work with the education sector. “The company gave us a really good discount on the package and this wasn’t to win our business, but more to build its already well-established support of the education sector and the training of apprentices. Additionally, by following the recommendations from Mitutoyo, we can do everything necessary with our learners. We can provide and develop block training, such as short or long course modules that are suitable for the training needs of our partner companies and core challenge partners.”

The metrology department now allows The JCB Academy to deliver this tailored metrology and inspection training resource to all the companies it provides apprentice training for. So, whether it’s apprentices from JCB, Continental Tyres, Toyota, Michelin, Bosch Rexroth, Bri-Stor System, Alpha Manufacturing, Rolls-Royce or any other company in the region, The JCB Academy delivers unique, relevant, captivating and accredited inspection training that encompasses both practical and theoretical studies that are, above-all, relevant to industry.

Rowley again: “We had a set of requirements that we discussed with Mitutoyo and they told us that our specifications were very similar to their training kits. In fact, the Mitutoyo Student Kits and Tutor Kits allow us to deliver in-house training and also on-site training with our partners. With the kits, we can take the main bulk of equipment with small tools to our on-site or off-site learners and they can learn what equipment to use for the specific measurement tasks they have to undertake. With learners understanding the choices of tools available, they can reduce time wasting in the field and ensure inspection is conducted correctly.

Mitutoyo Student Kits and Tutor Kits

The Student Kits include a 0-25 mm micrometer, a 0-25 mm digital micrometer, three 0-150 mm vernier calipers that include a vernier scale caliper, a dial caliper and a digital caliper. Also included in the Student Kit is a 150 mm rule and an aluminium test piece. In contrast, the two Tutor Kits supplied cover more diverse spectrum of inspection and calibration equipment. One Tutor Kit includes three 200 mm vernier scale height gauges, three universal bevel protractors, a gauge block set and centre finders. The second Tutor Kit has three digital height gauges, two DTIs, a 3-4 in digital micrometer, an 8 to 10 cm internal bore micrometer and six test pieces. Both the Student Kits and Tutor Kits are supplied in protective carry-cases that eliminate the potential for damage during transportation.

The JCB Academy has four student carry-cases and two tutor cases; each student case is filled with six individual Student Kits. These are far removed from the small selection of micrometers, feeler gauges and vernier calipers that were previously used by learners at the academy.

The centrepiece of the metrology department is a CRYSTA-Plus M443 CMM that is connected to a 60 in wall-mounted monitor. The manual CRYSTA-Plus CMM with temperature compensation offers The JCB Academy everything from simple dimensional to complex form measurement in a small footprint, 400 by 400 mm table. Utilising the very latest MCOSMOS CMM software, learners can evaluate the dimensional precision of components and test pieces. By connecting the CMM to a large monitor, teaching staff can conduct practical demonstrations to learners in the classroom environment.