Going for gold, silver and bronze – Electroimpact sweeps the board at World Skills UK finals

AMFebruary17News - Electroimpact
AMFebruary17News - Electroimpact

As one of the leaders in the design and manufacture of tooling and automation systems for aircraft production, Electroimpact places a strong emphasis on skills training. At its UK base on Deeside it has a strong apprenticeship programme, but one that wasn’t subjected to competition, until 2015, when it decided to put forward apprentices for the World Skills competition.

As an engineer-driven company Electroimpact has evolved into the largest integrator of aircraft assembly lines in the world, with customers including Airbus, Boeing, Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Fuji Heavy Industries, Spirit Aerospace, Vought, Northrop-Grumman, Israeli Aircraft Industries, Xi’an Aircraft of China, Bombardier, and Embraer.

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. “We have always invested on training and at Deeside that is through our apprentice scheme,” says Matthew Booth, UK manufacturing lead, Electroimpact UK. “It has been something that we just did, but in 2015 we decided to put two apprentices forward for World Skills 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 Euro Skills 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.”

Buoyed by this success Electroimpact returned to World Skills UK in 2016, this time entering three apprentices and once more the quality of their training shone through with Leigh Clarke taking the gold medal, Ryan Dexter the silver and Joe Harrison the bronze. Booth’s challenge now is how to top that in 2017. “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.”

Machining aluminium

Much of the material machined by Electroimpact is either aluminium, tools 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. “The extensive standard range of cutters for aluminium in WNT’s catalogue covers just about every application we can conceive. However, because of the nature of our work in one-off prototypes and low-volume production, we also have a requirement for special tools with non-standard radii, steps or angles and here WNT also excels,” says Booth. “A recent example of a special tooling requirement was a 100° angle cutter. After a discussion with Matt Darbyshire we ordered the cutter and it was delivered within three days. It is service like this that we get from WNT that keeps us going back to them.”

Electroimpact first turned to WNT (UK) two years ago and its use of WNT tooling has gradually grown to the extent that 95% of what it uses now comes from the WNT range. Behind this increase in business are WNT’s core values of customer support and next day availability of every standard tool in its range. “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. Over the two years we have dealt with WNT, Matt has been there when we needed him without putting any pressure on us, which we used to experience from previous suppliers. 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 World Skills events.”

This knowledge that Electroimpact can rely on WNT (UK) to resolve any cutting tool problem quickly without fuss has been a major benefit given the low quantity high accuracy work that they are undertaking. That service transfers to any WNT customer irrespective of size or industry sector with the company’s Total Tooling = Quality x Service2 motto running throughout the business.

Tony Pennington, managing director, WNT (UK), said: “Electroimpact is no different from any other WNT (UK) customer. We work together with customers large and small to ensure that they have the right tools at the right time to make sure they are as productive and competitive as they can possibly be. Our technical sales engineers like Matt are supported by our applications engineering team and back office staff in Sheffield. In turn we can call on the support of our headquarters in Kempten Germany where our warehouse logistics system is constantly being developed to ensure we maintain our next day, before noon, delivery promise on any tools ordered before 6:30 PM.”



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