Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Success Story Assetbank

Show all news items

Aviation history gets vital boost through WMG internship

Company Background

Kennet Aviation is a specialist vintage aircraft restoration business with a team of 11 experts making Seafire, Spitfires and others airworthy again. Based in Bedfordshire their capabilities include CNC router operations, CNC machining, project coordination, design engineering, systems engineering, tooling, and assembly.

Challenge - How to futureproof a heritage business

As a small manufacturing business, Kennet were looking to increase profitability to futureproof the business. They contacted WMG to see how they could increase efficiencies focusing on the Seafire Mk XV Aircraft’s Elevator System (the aircraft’s tail) which is all sheet metal components work. They had three main challenges.

  • Their costing model was based on only hourly fees, and not reflecting the true value of all of the work undertaken when carrying out restoration projects
  • They had invested in some semi-automated equipment on the Elevator manufacturing line but were not using it to its full potential. They were also noting inconsistencies in production time with the CNC Router and design processes
  • They wanted to further digitalise the business; however, they were unsure where to start with improvements.

Solution – Access new skills via internship scheme

Kennett Aviation had previously worked with WMG’s SME group to reverse engineer an aircraft part and were happy with the results, so they got back in touch with the team. WMG recommended that they participate in its 12-week internship scheme which sources talented engineers to work on specific technical challenges in manufacturing firms.

Together with WMG project supervisor Gun GokmenLink opens in a new window, Kennet took on Febry Mulia WardhanaLink opens in a new window, an Engineering Project Management postgraduate who had studied at Coventry University. Febry quickly got to grips with the project by creating a robust project management plan.

For the cost model he set about creating a clear invoice output that would describe material preparation costs and direct labour costs for each stage of a project rather than just the hourly fees. The costing solution was designed to be used in conjunction with the company’s existing MRP system, saving significant software development costs.

Febry worked on analysing and defining the elevator manufacturing process in detail looking at potential bottlenecks and root causes to existing problems. By creating a comparison between the current state and potential future state process he was able to highlight areas of improvement.

Finally, he undertook research and made recommendations for how digitalisation (3D scanning in particular) could enhance the process and increase efficiencies further. Rather than manually measuring and inputting data of aircraft parts, a 3D scanner would do this automatically and input directly onto the CNC system ready for cutting. He tested a series of the tail parts with a scanner at WMG to prove feasibility of using this technology in the business which could be rolled out to developing parts for entire aircrafts.


Improved Cost Model

  • The new comprehensive costing model will assist the business to price estimates quickly and accurately. Kennet is now better equipped to ensure that the correct margins are in place to improve profitability
  • The new model will also help Kennet increase sales with it being much more transparent, outlining very clearly all of the value the company adds at each stage of a project

Increased Efficiencies using Digital

  • Febry identified the bottleneck in Kennet’s CNC Router process which will reduce the lead time per part by three hours with a cost saving of 10% for the Elevator system
  • His recommendations for implementing digital scanning, taking out much of the current manual drawing process would reduce lead time per part by a further hour and reduce costs by 19%

This could be rolled out across the business and therefore, in total would amount to very significant cost reductions of up to 29% per aircraft project and a saving of 700 hours of parts drawing time and 30 hours of CNC router process time (in the Seafire Mk XV Aircraft restoration project, there are 700 parts to be remanufactured)

“This project showcased a range of WMG capabilities that can address different engineering and business problems leveraging intern talent and manufacturing experience. Kennet Aviation were an exciting and highly collaborative industrial partner to work with and we are delighted to be supporting the preservation of this important national heritage sector.”

Gun Gokmen, Industrial Engineer, WMG

“This was a great opportunity to apply my Master’s knowledge in real life to successfully manage a project. It also increased my expertise in both technical and strategic matters, making me an engineer who specialises in both, in other words, a well-rounded engineer.”

Febry Mulia Wardhana, WMG Intern

    For more information on working with WMG, please email wmgsme at warwick dot ac dot uk


    Mon 04 Sep 2023, 08:00 | Tags: SME