In-Comm Training has joined forces with workholding specialist Hyfore to develop an Advanced Manufacturing Technology Centre next door to its current site in Vigo Place.

Backed by the Black Country LEP’s Growth Deal, the ambitious plan will create an additional 16,000 sq ft of space that will be fitted out with CNC machine tools, automation and a robotics line, fluid power stations and a dedicated electrical and electronics section. It will also house material testing, material handling and grinding capabilities, as well as a 16-seater Mastercam and CIMCO CAD/CAM studio to help students develop their design for manufacturing skills.

Says In-Comm Training managing director Gareth Jones: “Things are happening to bridge the skills gap, but not many firms have thought about the competency gap and that involves looking at equipping firms in the West Midlands with the technical and advanced skills they need to make the most of global opportunities.

“This extension, which gives us a combined space of 21,000 sq ft, will address this issue and create a world class training hub that will provide an additional 420 Apprenticeship Trailblazer places between now and 2022. We will also aim to provide over 1200 upskilling courses in prototyping, R&D, operational excellence and data analysis.”

He continues: “Getting Industry 4.0 ready is not just something for the big manufacturers to think of, SMEs also have to embrace it and take advantage of increased connectivity and real time data and automation.

“This facility will help SMEs gain access to application engineers and state-of-the-art technology that will allow them to product develop and process map prior to installing manufacturing cells into their factories.”

Work on the extension will start shortly and will be completed by the 4 September.

In-Comm will be tapping into Hyfore’s experience in advanced engineering, turnkey projects, CNC machining and prototyping to fit out the centre with the latest equipment and in finalising some of the new Trailblazer Apprenticeship Courses.

The duo have also enlisted the support of the Engineering Technology Group in supplying the CNC machine tools, Halter for the Robotic Systems and Mastercam and CIMCO for the design of the CAD/CAM suite. Sulzer Dowding & Mills will provide their expertise in motors, whilst IMI Precision Engineering will be supporting the fluid power installation.

Adds Black Country LEP chair Stewart Towe: “We are delighted to be working with partners, such as In-Comm, to develop the build of specialist training facilities to support hands on skills development across the advanced manufacturing sector. Through providing the facilities to support sector specific skills development, we are investing in our future workforce who, in turn, will go on to contribute to the economic future of the Black Country.”