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-- Success Story --

Package of support helps SME access an electrifying new market

Recent years have seen a surge in demand for electric vehicles (EVs) in the UK – new registrations of plug-in cars increased from 3,500 in 2013 to more than 166,000 by August 2018.

What we see here in this country is being repeated around the world. The global market for EVs and plug-in hybrid vehicles was estimated to be £58bn in 2017 and is growing fast. Predictions that EVs will become as affordable as conventional cars by 2025, will trigger a further boom in demand.

But the automotive industry is often seen as a ‘closed shop’, difficult for new entrants to access. In order for the UK to make the most of these opportunities, we must help SMEs understand and access this complex sector.

Challenge

PP Control & Automation (PP C&A) is one of the world’s largest suppliers of electrical control systems and sub-contract manufacturing solutions. With over 52 years’ experience in this industry, the company is now the go-to firm for customers in the machine building sector.

However, with ambitious future growth plans, Tony Hague, Chief Executive of PP C&A, was seeking to expand into the booming electric vehicles market. He realised they had the capability in-house to produce parts and components for electric machines, but it was a market he and the management team weren’t familiar with.

Tony said: “There is such a groundswell of movement towards reducing emissions in the automotive sector that we knew it was a sector we had to try to get involved in and electrification appears to be doing most of the driving.

“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.”

Solution

Having engaged with our SME Group a number of times, Tony and the management team knew we had the expertise and knowledge required to support them at this critical time in the company’s growth.

At a networking event at the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce, Tony was introduced to our Ready 4 Electrification programme supported by WMG Centre High Value Manufacturing Catapult. The programme provides assistance to companies of all sizes to help them make the most of opportunities in electrification.

Through a series of interactive workshops and awareness sessions, our experts helped PP C&A to identify and overcome potential barriers, as well as understanding where opportunities to transfer their existing technology and engineering expertise into the electrification marketplace existed.

With our support, the company was able to identify a key opportunity for them to build their credibility in ‘yellow-light’ vehicles, such as highway maintenance vehicles.

Impact

The information gained in the Ready for Electrification programme enabled PP C&A to secure new contracts worth £120k, with further contracts in the pipeline potentially worth £3m for customers in the niche electric commercial vehicle sectors.

These involve the manufacture and supply of electrical box builds and cable assemblies for electric motors and associated vehicle interconnectivity.

Tony commented: “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.”

The Ready 4 Electrification programme is unique in the UK, due to the combination of our understanding of the technical aspects of technology transfer as well as in-depth knowledge of the EV and automotive market.

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. 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.”

PP C&A is already making a name for itself in the EV market and is already planning future work that utilises its core competencies in new environments.

To learn more about the Ready 4 Electrification programme and start your innovation journey, click here.

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