The company was able to get production up and running, shipping new customer-approved components in just one week, following receipt of an order for small machined components in aluminium and plastics that SL Engineering could produce on its multi-axis CNC turn-mill lathes. These are normally used to make larger complex tube and pipe fittings used in aerospace, industrial gas turbines, and power generation.

Part of the Sharing in Growth (SiG) productivity and competitiveness initiative, SL Engineering was contacted by SiG, which has been helping the VentilatorChallengeUK consortium in identifying capability and capacity within the SiG community to support the manufacture of ventilators that are to be assembled at GKN’s site in Luton.

Explains SL Engineering joint managing director Shaun Stevenson: “The challenge was to assess, quote, procure material and tooling, and set up 24/7 working shifts, all under the current Covid-19 restrictions. Then we had to manufacture and deliver components within a week from receipt of authority to proceed. This included completing full New Product Introduction processes, manufacture of parts culminating in customer approval of sample inspection control plans / first articles and delivery to customer all within one week.

“We would normally be looking at a matter of weeks or even months from receiving an invitation to bid to getting the first part dimensionally approved by the customer and into production. This timescale was condensed down to less than 48 hours, which is an impressive achievement.

“Our workforce has been brilliant in initially providing suggestions for how we could manufacture the components and rapidly increase capacity via the change of shift patterns. Once we got authorisation to manufacture the parts, our teams have shown great commitment and determination across all operational business functions. Everyone wants to contribute to this critical cause for the brilliant NHS and the country as the Covid-19 pandemic unfolds. It’s been a fantastic team effort and a great result from Team SL.”

SL Engineering employs just over 75 staff and is classified as an ‘essential’ supplier by its military aerospace, defence and power generation industries customers during the Covid-19 crisis. The company is following strict government rules on safeguarding employees and maintaining safe working distances. This includes switching its CNC machine shop to operating 24/7, 12 hour rotating shifts to meet ventilator demand, as well as maintaining normal everyday business delivery demands.

Prior to the COVID-19 emergency, SL Engineering had been working with Sharing in Growth to double its turnover to over £12 million turnover by 2023 by investing in its plant, facilities, processes and staff to deliver improved efficiency, capability and capacity to its globally based OEM customers.

Adds Sharing in Growth business transformation manager Ashlea Finn: “It’s fantastic so see SL Engineering rising to this challenge in the same way they have embarked on their SiG transformation activity, with amazing teamwork, a can-do attitude and a drive to get things done.”