A successful aerospace engineering firm hopes to reach new heights with ambitious plans for a £1.85 million expansion despite the tough economic conditions.
Arrowsmith Engineering, which employs 35 people in Exhall, believes its partnership with Manufacturing Advisory Service–West Midlands (MAS-WM) and Coventry City Council will improve its productivity and competitiveness.
Director Jason Aldridge: “In this financial climate, this is a big investment in the company’s future. It demonstrates our commitment to developing our facilities and our people, in line with our growth plan.
“With extra training and the latest machinery it gives us the competitive edge we need to go out and find new business in small low-volume precision work.”
Arrowsmith Engineering is investing in new equipment that will take the company’s spend to more than £520,000 in three years. The equipment will be used to manufacture high-precision complex and critical-performance parts predominantly for the aerospace sector – a sector that accounts for more than 90 per cent of their annual turnover.
Aerospace is a vital sector in the West Midlands economy with 450 companies employing some 25,000 staff. Arrowsmith Engineering have joined some of these companies and signed up to the Supply Chain 21 (SC21) programme that aims to raise the performance of suppliers to the UK’s defence and aerospace industry. MAS-WM has joined the Midlands Aerospace Alliance (MAA) to provide support for manufacturers – a helping hand that is seeing the Bayton Road company implement highly-efficient lean processes.
More than a fifth of the Rolls-Royce supply chain resides in the West Midlands, including Arrowsmith Engineering whose latest investment is supported by a £98,000 Selective Finance for Investment (SFIE) grant from regional development agency Advantage West Midlands.
Mr Aldridge said: “With a five-year plan in place we wanted to upgrade our machine capability but were unsure which machinery and up-skilling we should invest in. Facing large capital investments, we wanted to get it right first time and avoid costly mistakes.”
Peter Jones, specialist manufacturing adviser at MAS-WM, said: “Arrowsmith has in recent years recognised that its traditional customer base is changing and there is a demand for low-volume precision products. We collated a package of development and improvement measures, part funded under our Strategic Change Program, which upgraded the CAD/CAM systems as well as the operators skills - measures which will ensure that when the new machinery is delivered the infrastructure will already be in place to utilise it from day one.
“In others words they will not have to wait for months for the skill-set to catch up with the technology. As such the new machinery will start to pay for itself almost immediately.”
Richard Lawson, Business Investment Co-ordinator at Coventry City Council, said: “Often all companies need is a little help to access funding for capital expenditure projects. That’s where we come in and since April 2005 we helped companies to be offered grants of just under £6 million from Advantage West Midlands that have safeguarded or created 1,021 jobs.”