Tapping into expert academic support is helping a manufacturing outsourcing specialist access up to £3m in new business in the niche vehicle sector.
PP Control & Automation (PP C&A), which already works with many of the world’s largest machine builders, is one of the first participants of the Ready 4 Electrification Programme run by WMG, at the University of Warwick, and is already reaping the benefits of an initiative designed to get the supply chain ready for new opportunities.
The company has completed a feasibility project that assesses how ready it is to enter the automotive electrification arena, identifying barriers to overcome and, importantly, opportunities where it can transfer its technology and engineering expertise into the marketplace.
Information gained here has already been used to successfully approach and secure work for two customers involved in niche vehicle manufacture, with PP C&A supplying electrical box builds and cable assemblies, as well as using its design for manufacturing experience to support standardisation in order to reduce variety and complexity.
“There is such a groundswell of movement towards reducing emissions in the automotive sector that we knew it was a market we had to try to get involved in and electrification appears to be doing most of the driving,” explained Tony Hague, Chief Executive of PP Control & Automation.
“As an SME, we don’t have the immediate available resource to research into such new and complex vertical market sectors. That’s where WMG comes into the equation.”
He continued: “They have the experts in the field, who have the technical/commercial knowledge and understanding, not to mention a host of new contacts. We have a long-standing relationship with WMG so had no hesitation in becoming one of the first firms in the country to take part in Ready 4 Electrification.
“Feasibility has been completed, with the next step being to finalise a strategic project we can work together on that will help us gain commercial advantage in the sector.
“We’re already delighted with the results. Two new contracts with niche vehicle manufacturers have been secured and there’s another in the pipeline…it has been a great start.”
WMG’s Ready 4 Electrification programme is supported by the WMG Centre High Value Manufacturing Catapult and provides assistance to support companies of all sizes to make the most of opportunities in electrification.
The initial support is awareness sessions followed by part-funded feasibility studies to help firms develop their EV roadmap and to provide masterclasses in key disciplines, including batteries, motors, power electronics and supply chain capability.
From there participants can benefit from a strategic project that will deliver action plans around collaborative R&D, Knowledge Transfer Partnerships and Internships, with manufacturers also able to access technical support with production processes and rapid prototyping.
Simon Garwood, Innovation Manager at WMG, added his support: “PP Control & Automation is a fantastic example of how the intensive research and coaching provided by the Ready 4 Electrification programme can upskill teams in companies and deliver real commercial advantages in a short space of time.
“Our experts understand the pressures faced by manufacturers and how important it is to tailor the support to overcome specific barriers and unleash the potential in our supply chain.
“We can deliver data, research and access to networks of specialists, not to mention the world class advanced test and manufacturing facilities available at WMG.”
He concluded: “The UK has a fantastic opportunity to lead the world in vehicle electrification, but we can only achieve this vision if industry taps into the vast academic expertise and research at their fingertips.”
Ready 4 Electrification has already reached over 200 companies through four regional networking events, with another three planned for 2019.
It has visited over 50 firms and is currently completing in-company pilot feasibility projects. In total, it has the capacity to support over 200 businesses between now and 2020.
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