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Flux Aviation flying high as business transitions to the next level

A WMG internship to embed 3D scanning technology into the business leads to big efficiency gains and the opportunity to transform the aviation industry on its pathway to electrification.

Background

Flux Aviation is an innovative start-up on a mission to accelerate the transition of aviation towards electric power. Its technologies will enable zero emission aviation from two-seat trainer aircraft and up to 50-seat regional airliners. Its core innovations focus on electric motors and battery modules that have been designed from the ground up specifically for aviation applications. The team were recently propelled into the limelight as overall winners of the Manufacturing Start-up Award at the Made in the Midlands Insider Awards.

Challenge

Flux Aviation develops complete systems that include electric motors, batteries, and control electronics all in one package designed to be retrofitted into a range of existing aircrafts to replace combustion engines (e.g. traditional ROTAX engines).

The company is targeting direct compatibility with 80% of aircrafts on the market, enabling aircraft manufacturers to offer electric variants of their products with minimal re-design effort. The current process of building a design library of compatible aircrafts is very manual and time consuming. It requires moving the aircraft to Flux Aviation premises and taking measurements manually. Founders Radovan Gallo and Neofytos Dimitriou decided to invest in 3D scanning technology to improve the process but were unsure how best to embed it in the business and did not have the expertise to do all the necessary tests to prove its efficacy.

 

Solution

Already engaging with WMG through the Natwest funded Clean Transport Accelerator programme, the duo were made aware of WMG’s internship programme. They took on Design Engineer Intern, Aryan Bharmani with supervision from WMG’s Manikanta Ravi to create a series of processes and workflows that would maximise the benefit and accelerate the speed of implementing scanning technologies in the business.

Ultimately the process had to be customised to Flux’s needs and fully documented and tested. Aryan worked on configuring the scanner for optimal performance, testing it on engine bays, fuel tanks, fuselage, and mountings all at different resolutions. He designed an appropriate workflow from pre-processing all the way to post-processing scan data, including looking at ways to export scan data as stereolithography (STL) files by reducing size and without compromising quality to carry out design work in CAD software for conversion into solid bodies. Additional evaluation and verification work was carried out, as well as the creation of Standard Operating Procedures.

Impacts

· As a result of the internship project, Flux Aviation is now able to measure and design aircraft engine mount parameters using scanning technology with a deviation of less than 1%;

· The standard workflows produced by Aryan have given Flux the confidence to use scanning technology in the aircraft electrification process, eliminating the need to move the client aircraft from its owner’s hangar for retrofitting;

· The new scanning technology has reduced aircraft measuring time from four weeks to just two hours (a reduction of 99.7%) increasing the company bandwidth to deliver more client projects, accelerating the transition of aviation to zero-emission electric power;

· This new capability will enable Flux Aviation to conduct the aircraft electrification process outside the UK, opening up opportunities to sell in European markets;

· The project led to new quotations for projects worth £300k and the company are hoping to convert those as well as grow the order book by a further £300k in the next three months.

Testimonials

“The WMG internship programme has been incredibly helpful. We identified a gap in our capabilities and with the help of WMG experts and a highly skilled intern we were able to address it in a quick and cost-effective way. The programme requires minimum additional overhead for recruitment and ongoing management. It is an incredible resource for an SME like us and we would be delighted to use this programme again in the future.” 

Radovan Gallo, CEO, Flux Aviation Ltd

 

“This internship provided valuable hands-on experience in cutting-edge technologies for electrifying aircraft, improved my technical skills, and contributed to my employability in the engineering field, particularly in areas related to design, scanning, and workflow optimisation.”

Aryan Bharmani, Design Engineer Intern

“WMG's Internship programme helped Flux Aviation identify the right talent to address its skill gap and accelerate their vision. It also helped Aryan to initiate his professional journey in the manufacturing world under an expert’s supervision, thereby contributing to the development of a skilled workforce in the UK.”

Manikanta Ravi, Engineer, Business Transformation, WMG

Notes

*Flux Aviation's most recent accolades are:

  • Most promising solution by Innovation Zero
  • Manufacturing Start-up by Made in the Midlands
  • Cleantech Startup of the Year by the Midlands Startup Awards

For more information on Flux Aviation’s work and mission visit: Flux Aviation

For more information on working with WMG's SME team and internships email wmgsme@warwick.ac.uk

Thu 13 Jun 2024, 14:08 | Tags: SME SME-Digital SME-Internships SME-Net Zero Success Story

MyWorkwear - Looking good for the future

“In the last couple of months, we have almost doubled our output compared to 18-24 months ago and we can all see the benefits of the new system compared to our old processes. Our turnaround time has been reduced significantly and there are fewer mistakes to be corrected which is another bonus.”

Ben Simpson, Co-Managing Director, MyWorkwearLink opens in a new window

Challenge

Under the leadership of Managing Directors Ben Simpson and James Worthington, MyWorkwearLink opens in a new window, which was started in 1976, produces thousands of garments every week for companies large and small across the UK. Using state-of-the-art embroidery and print machines, the company adds logos, names and designs onto uniforms, workwear, teamwear, promotional items and other garments. The business also supplies PPE and non-personalised clothing from its 6,500 sq ft premises to its customers predominantly in the Midlands and nationwide.

MyWorkwear was growing rapidly and needed its internal systems to reflect the upsurge in orders.

Ben Simpson, Co-Managing Director, said: “Our systems were starting to struggle because we still had processes in place from a long time ago.”

Solution

Working with partners at Made Smarter West Midlands, colleagues at WMG undertook a digital roadmap which led MyWorkwear to buy a specialist ERP system and software that involves the embroidery machines – which embroider many garments simultaneously – ‘talking’ to a central piece of software. It also enables staff to complete the colourisation and bar code scanning on the garments.

“The comprehensive digital roadmap that we carried out for the business highlighted areas which we felt would improve their productivity. We are delighted to have played a part in improving the digitalisation of MyWorkwear which is already leading to efficiencies, and they are a great example for other West Midlands businesses to follow.”

Onur Eren, Chief Engineer, WMGLink opens in a new window

Impact

Read more here about the project and the results here.Link opens in a new window

For more information about working with WMG's SME Group email wmgsme@warwick.ac.uk 


The grass is even greener for Allett after WMG internship

Background

Allett Mowers, a British-owned company based in Stafford, has been designing and manufacturing walk-behind cylinder lawn mowers for over 50 years. Allett’s customer base ranges from professional groundsmen producing sports surfaces in any weather for athletes; to palace Head-Gardeners; to homeowners. In April 2019, Allett won the Queen's Award for Enterprise: International Trade 2019 in recognition of its growth in exports and contribution to the British economy.

Challenge

Traditionally, Allett has manufactured wired and petrol lawnmowers that are bespoke for each customer. Understanding growing customer needs, Allett was aiming to manufacture a high volume of electric lawnmowers that were easier to produce in large numbers. The challenge was that they did not have the production capacity and manufacturing processes in place to mass-produce a new electric lawnmower.

The company created the first prototype of their new electric lawnmower and were already looking to develop prototype two. However, Allett knew that down the line they would need a more speedy and efficient production layout and process, as well as key manufacturing and engineering skills relating to it. They needed new ways to record cycle times of production and produce a standard operating sheet.

Picture shows Allett mowers

Solution

Allett came to WMG knowing they had the required expertise in manufacturing processes and efficiency. In discussions with the WMG SME Group they collaborated in various activities to streamline processes, make sure tools were correct, foster a culture change from one manufacturing method to another, and support a new supply chain.

Gary Loughran and Richard Savidge, Innovation Managers at WMG, provided insights into where Allett could quickly implement change. Richard and Gary were able to provide a fresh pair of eyes to the factory and were able to assist Allett in optimising processing, process equipment, layout, and flow to eventually produce these new electric lawn mowers at a high volume.

In addition to factory mapping, the WMG SME Group recommended the WMG Internship Programme and helped recruit and supervise an intern who could take on the role of launch engineer for Allett. Over 12 weeks the intern, Alexander Picton, a mechanical engineering student from Coventry University, ensured the product design process met the function, performance, safety, and quality requirements. This also fed into the optimisation of manufacturing quality and process performance needs.

Alexander was able to be the interface between production, quality, and engineering. The steps they took were to understand the current production process, identify potential failure modes, provide layout recommendations and finally, scope implementation for future opportunities.

Impact

  • During the design, Alexander and the team at Allett were able to iron out more than 100 potentially problematic design challenges to create the best new prototype.
  • Thanks to the work completed around the first prototype, the second edition will be made quicker and more improved than the last, making its route to market quicker.
  • Supported the optimisation of process, layout, and workstation development, which successfully improved speed and quality of production.
  • Allett received key support from the intern, WMG experts, and access to the WMG state-of-the-art technology that they wouldn’t have got anywhere else. They are aiming to launch their new electric lawnmower in the near future.

Alexander Picton, WMG Intern, commented: “Working in collaboration with Allett has been a fantastic way for me to develop the skills I have learnt during university. Allett was a welcoming and dynamic team who are stepping into the future of lawnmowing without compromising on their years of built-up lawnmower experience. We can’t wait to see the finished product.”

Austin Jarrett, Director at Allett Mowers, added: “Working with WMG was just the support we needed, without the team and the internship programme we would have struggled to prepare for our next line of products. Alexander was a great addition to our team, and we are looking forward to presenting the final product in the near future”.

For more information on working with us, please email wmgsme@warwick.ac.uk.

Tue 01 Mar 2022, 11:50 | Tags: SME-Internships Success Story

Intern duo bolster collaborative relationship with creation of new product line and costing system

Challenge

With manufacturing centres in the UK and in Dubai, Ramfoam makes foam products for a range of applications. Although already selling into a large range of industries including aerospace, construction and retail, the company had significant growth aspirations and wanted to diversify into new markets, specifically the oil and gas sector.

Alongside this, the company had a requirement to optimise their cost model to reduce the time and resource needed to create quotes for more complex (tertiary) products. They believed that a large amount of tertiary work was being taken to competitors because of the issues with their existing quotation system. When quoting for tertiary products, many manufacturing and resource costs need to be factored in due to their complexity.

Picture shows Ramfoam HQ

Solution

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ramfoam had worked with WMG to adapt its manufacturing practices to produce two million face visors a week. They discussed their new ideas with innovation manager Richard Brighton and it was suggested that WMG's internship programme could help them take the projects forward. Ramfoam recruited Ahsan Farooq, an engineering design student at the University of Bristol to work on developing some new products for the oil and gas sector and James Walker, a systems engineering student at the University of Warwick to work on the costing model.

Under guidance from Ramfoam, Ahsan identified three product lines (packer elements, essential products used in gas and oil wells) that could be produced in high volume and had the potential to deliver good margins. He then spent time researching the material requirements, the design features, factoring in how to reduce product failure by simulating conditions, as well as other testing criteria.

James worked to identify areas of improvement to speed up the generation of quotes. He mapped out the current processes and the man hours required to calculate quotes and developed an automated system that could retrieve information quickly and easily. He then went on to integrate it into Ramfoam’s new ERP system along with a quote tracker to monitor how may quotes are coming in and the actual win rate.

Impact

  • James’s new system means that 90% of tertiary quotes can now be generated within 24 hours.
  • Win rates following quotations have increased from 25% to 50%, and new revenue generated through additional tertiary work is forecast to be £1 million next year
  • The introduction of the new product lines will increase turnover by £1-2 million
  • As a result of the new product lines, Ramfoam are formulating plans for setting up a specialist group for the oil and gas industry

Tim Mulqueen, Director at Ramfoam commented: “It has been valuable to us to have someone look at some of the priority challenges in our business. James was very diligent and his recommendations will be key in allowing us to win new business. Ahsan’s passion for his job was refreshing to the team. In just 12 weeks he was able to deliver on the project objectives, supporting the growth and market diversification of our company”.

James Walker, WMG Intern added: “The fact that the internship was based on a well-structured project made the difference for me. I could see from the description the benefit that it would have on the company and how much I could learn over the 12 weeks. One of the main benefits for me was the opportunity to improve the way I communicate and collaborate with people in a team, which is a valuable skill in today’s work environment”.

Ahsan Farooq, the second WMG intern, echoes James’ comments: “I was looking for an experience that would allow me to be useful to the company from day 1 and this internship was what I was hoping for. I was able to do independent research and design a new product that worked! An amazing feeling! The experience boosted my confidence, as I feel I am now able to lead on a project and better communicate the value of what I’m doing to clients and stakeholders”.

Picture shows WMG interns

For more information on working with us, or the WMG Internship Programme, please email wmgsme@warwick.ac.uk

Wed 22 Dec 2021, 17:30 | Tags: Manufacturing SME SME-Internships Success Story