£1.5m manufacturing tech centre to address skills gap

A 16,000 sqft Advanced Manufacturing Technology Centre is set to help UK SMEs gain access to world-class engineers and machine tools.

With a £31bn turnover, the UK has the largest aerospace sector in Europe and second only to the US in the world - image courtesy of In-Comm Training.
In-Comm has been offering industry and commerce a wide range of training and business solutions for 35 years – image courtesy of In-Comm Training.

In-Comm Training, which was recently awarded ‘Outstanding’ status by Ofsted, has joined forces with workholding specialist Hyfore to develop an Advanced Manufacturing Technology Centre next door to its current site in Aldridge (West Midlands).

Backed by the Black Country LEP’s Growth Deal, the ambitious plan will create an additional 16,000 sqft of space that will be equipped with world-class CNC machine tools, automation and a robotics line, fluid power stations and a dedicated electrical and electronics section.

It is also expected to house material testing, material handling and grinding capabilities, as well as a 16-seater Mastercam and CIMCO CAD/CAM studio to help students develop their design for manufacturing skills.

Managing director of In-Comm Training, Gareth Jones commented: “Things are happening to bridge the skills gap, but not many firms have thought about the competency gap and that involves looking at equipping firms in the West Midlands with the technical and advanced skills they need to make the most of global opportunities.

“This extension, which gives us a combined space of 21,000 sqft, will address the skills gap issue and create a world-class training hub that will provide an additional 420 Apprenticeship Trailblazer places between now and 2022.

“We will also aim to provide over 1,200 upskilling courses in prototyping, R&D, operational excellence and data analysis.”

He continued: “Getting Industry 4.0 ready is not just something for the big manufacturers to think of, SMEs also have to embrace it and take advantage of increased connectivity and real time data and automation.

“This facility will help SMEs gain access to application engineers and state-of-the-art technology that will allow them to product develop and process map prior to installing manufacturing cells into their factories.”

Work on the extension is due to start shortly and will be completed by September 4 to welcome a new apprenticeship intake.

Skills Gap - The centre will be equipped with CNC machine tools, automation and a robotics line, fluid power stations and a dedicated electrical and electronics section – image courtesy of In-Comm Training.
The centre will be equipped with CNC machine tools, automation and a robotics line, fluid power stations and a dedicated electrical and electronics section – image courtesy of In-Comm Training.

In-Comm will be tapping into Hyfore’s considerable experience in advanced engineering, turnkey projects, CNC machining and prototyping to fit out the centre with the latest equipment and in finalising some of the new Trailblazer Apprenticeship Courses.

The Engineering Technology Group in supplying the CNC machine tools, Halter for the Robotic Systems and Mastercam and CIMCO for the design of the CAD/CAM suite.

Sulzer Dowding & Mills will provide its expertise in motors, while IMI Precision Engineering will be supporting the fluid power installation.

Gestamp, a specialist in metal automotive components, will reportedly be one of the first companies to take advantage of this new investment, with more set to be announced over the coming months.