Matthew Booth, UK manufacturing lead, Electroimpact UK, explains that its apprenticeship programme had never been subject to competition before. Given the nature of aircraft manufacturing, many of its solutions are bespoke, which calls on a significant interaction between its machine shops and design engineers and high skill levels.
Booth says: “We have always invested on training and at Deeside that is through our apprentice scheme. It has been something that we just did, but in 2015 we decided to put two apprentices forward for Worldskills UK in the CNC Milling category. Both apprentices made it to the last six, with Ethan Davies taking the gold medal. Ethan then went on to gain fourth place in the Euroskills Finals as part of TeamUK, gaining a Medallion of Honour, his next step is to compete for a place on the UK team for the World finals which take place in Abu Dhabi in October 2017.”
Electroimpact put forward another group of three contestants into the Worldskills UK championships in 2016. Once more the quality of their training shone through: Leigh Clarke took the gold medal, Ryan Dexter the silver and Joe Harrison the bronze. Booth says his challenge now is how to top that in 2017. He says: “We will be entering again and this time spreading our wings with one apprentice targeting the turning section alongside colleagues in milling. The success we have had has been inspirational and comes down to hard work, dedication and the mix of machining that we are asked to do on a daily basis for our production and prototype projects.”
Much of the material machined by Electroimpact is either aluminium, tool steel or stainless steel, but the majority, around 75%, is aluminium. To maximise productivity, the machinists and apprentices rely on the support of WNT (UK), with technical advice and support provided by local technical sales engineer Matt Darbyshire.
Electroimpact first turned to WNT (UK) two years ago, and its use of WNT tooling has gradually grown to cover 95% of its tooling. Concludes Booth: “The extent of the WNT catalogue is mind-boggling and the fact that anything in there can be delivered next day is superb. In addition, the availability of precise cutting data in the catalogue and online is a big help, and when we are struggling we know we can call on Matt in person or make a phone call to get the support we need. On his visits he helps with selecting tools for our production needs and also answering questions from apprentices, which was helpful in the run-up to the Worldskills events.”