A luxury touring caravan manufacturer from St Asaph is rolling forwards thanks to the benefits of a digital transformation project.
The Fifth Wheel Company is one of a number of Denbighshire businesses to benefit from research and development collaborations designed to boost digital support.
Engineers from AMRC Cymru, part of the wider University of Sheffield AMRC innovation and research cluster, are collaborating with Denbighshire County Council as part of the digital transformation project.
Funded by the UK Government through the UK Community Renewal Fund, all businesses taking part receive expert support on three-month intervention projects from a digital specialist.
The focus of the work will centre around improving product development and manufacturing processes through smart technologies.
The Fifth Wheel Company Ltd, started in 2002 by husband and wife Mervyn and Jenny Parry-Jones, designs and manufactures luxury fifth wheel and touring caravans.
Having seen the concept in the USA, and importing an American fifth wheel, Mervyn found that the size and build quality were not suitable for the European market and set out to build the first European-compliant fifth wheel caravan, a structure that has a fifth wheel hitch to tow.
During 2022, linking in with AMRC Cymru helped the business roll forward with digital manufacturing.
Jason Murphy, operations director at AMRC Cymru, said: “It was a privilege to support this family run business to advance their digital maturity. The Fifth Wheel Company designs and builds outstanding products. A number of digital tools were proposed for the efficient capture of data during the manufacturing process to help improve build efficiency, product quality and traceability.”
The project support is helping The Fifth Wheel Company Ltd look to increase output and also take forward a better overall customer experience.
Gethin Whiteley, technical director for The Fifth Wheel Company, said: “The AMRC project is supporting the move towards digital manufacturing within our business. The initiative is helping by providing specialist consultancy to allow us to improve our manufacturing processes and develop efficiencies.
“The intervention of the programme has re-focused our digital strategy by highlighting a range of areas where new technology investment would significantly benefit the business.
“The overall outcome of the project is to increase our production quantities and improve our customer experience. Through the integration of digital processes on the manufacturing shop floor communication, efficiencies and the quality of our products will improve.
“Digital communications between our customers in the field and even directly with our product in the field will provide invaluable data for improvements to be made to our products.”
Looking at the influence of the support from the AMRC project, staff at the company feel it has refocused efforts to reap the benefits of working in the digital arena.
He added: “This is not only in terms of how we manufacture our products, but in how we reach out to new and existing customers, making The Fifth Wheel Company experience more immersive whilst at the same time streamlining the process as part of our overall business objectives.”
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