Brompton secures funding from Innovate UK to optimise bicycle production

Posted on 22 Feb 2024 by The Manufacturer

Brompton, the UK’s largest bike company has secured funding from Innovate UK to optimise bicycle production at Brompton's Greenford site through the development and demonstration of industrial-grade robotic and automation solutions.

The project, called BROM-BOT, involves creating a ‘Robot Sandpit/Playground’ at the Brompton factory in Greenford and leveraging EKC’s robotic learning factory in Canterbury to test integration across several operations in areas such as body shop, paint and assembly. The goal is to identify operations and upskill its current workforce with the potential to significantly enhance productivity, quality, scale, safety and sustainability.

This comes as Brompton has just launched its first ever 12-speed bikes – using its own internally designed derailleur to achieve a wider range of gearring across their lines. Innovate UK provides funding to support investment in developing business-led innovation covering both products and processes. This is part of UKRI’s Made Smarter Innovation (MSI) Challenge, delivered by Innovate UK. The challenge has awarded grants to 11 late-stage robotics and automation projects with a focus on developing solutions to improve productivity, sustainability and resilience within factory production areas.

Made for cities, Brompton bikes are sold in 46 countries around the world and over 70% of our production is exported

Leading the project internally will be Alexander Kimber, Engineering Project Manager, alongside input from Riddhi Karambelkar, Head of Manufacturing Engineering. There are also several other key partners who are contributing to the project, each of whom were identified as a key leader in their field. They are:

  • ABB: Technology solutions supplier that has recently supported Brompton in delivering new robot welding cells.
  • GEMA: A paint specialist that Brompton has a long standing relationship with.
  • East Kent Colleges Group: A collection of community-based colleges in the south east of England.
  • HSSMI: A sustainable manufacturing consultancy, that has worked with Brompton on its manufacturing strategy, building requirements and aspects of modelling processes.

One Brompton bike takes 6.2 tonnes less carbon than a car to make and 42 folded Brompton bikes can be parked in the space it takes to park one car

This project will run until January 2025, and work has already begun to identify key areas within which to innovate. Phill Elston, Operations Director at Brompton Bicycle said: “Brompton and Innovate UK has always held a strong and positive relationship. This new funding will enable the team to drive forward an array of exciting technology projects, ultimately meaning that Brompton can continue to be a leader of innovation in the urban mobility industry,”

Riddhi added: ”On behalf of Brompton Bicycle, we extend our heartfelt gratitude to Innovate UK and our esteemed project partners, ABB, HSSMI, GEMA, and EKC, for their unwavering collaboration and dedication. Together, we’ve secured vital grant funding, propelling us towards our manufacturing aspirations with renewed vigour and purpose.”

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