It is no secret that the public perception of manufacturing in the UK is that it has been in a perpetual state of decline since the early 1970s. While the demise of British Leyland for many was symbolic of a significant decline in volume manufacturing, the UK manufacturing sector remains strong. But it has proved to be a particularly strong source of product design.
The Government’s commonly touted statistic that the UK is the world’s sixth largest manufacturer clearly flies in the face of any suggestion that UK manufacturing is obsolete.
While this is an interesting statistic, part of negative public opinion of manufacturing stems from the commonly publicised growth in offshore production, particularly in Asia. This article lists some of the most influential products which have been designed in the UK. To illustrate that important products are still not only designed in the UK but also engineered here, only one out the following top 10 products do not have a related manufacturing site in the UK. Can you guess which one? The answer is at the bottom of the article.
1 DB9 by Aston Martin
Launched at the Frankfurt Motor Show on 9 September 2003, the Aston Martin DB9 became the first car to be produced at the company’s modern facility in Gaydon, Warwickshire. The innovative DB9 began a new era for Aston Martin as it took on a fresh direction with new models. Using a radical new aluminium bonded frame, the DB9 remains one of the most sophisticated and technically advanced sports cars in the world. It successfully balances the attributes of a sports car with features normally found in luxury cars. The Aston Martin DB9 is a modern interpretation of a traditional Aston Martin sports car, representing a contemporary version of classic DB design elements and characteristics. In true Aston Martin tradition, the DB9 reflects the company’s reputation for superb styling and continues a long history of beautiful sports cars.
2 System on chips integrated circuits by ARM
ARM licenses its technology to a global network of partners, such as Research in Motion, makers of the Blackberry, Samsung, Nokia and Apple, to create smart, low energy chips notable for the fact that their low power usage does not compromise performance. By designing once and licensing many times, ARM spreads the R&D costs across the industry, saving an estimated $20bn a year and helping make digital electronics cheaper. Over 95% of all the world’s mobile phones contain ARM technology. Furthermore, 70% of digital cameras, 60% of printers, 50% of hard disk drives and nearly all cars contain at least one ARM-based chip. This does not account for the other digital products, whether video game controllers, washing machines, TVs or heart rate monitors, that also contain ARM’s patented designs. Although ARM is headquartered in the UK, almost all its customers are based overseas, with over 95% of revenue attributed to international sales and billions of ARM-based chips worldwide. Since 2002, ARM has brought £1.7bn in revenues to the UK.
3 Tracked Excavators by JCB
JCB (formally J C Bamford Excavators) is a construction, demolition and agricultural equipment company headquartered in Rocester, United Kingdom. It is the world’s third-largest construction equipment manufacturer. There are 17 models in the JS Auto tracked range, with options of undercarriage and work equipment, so it comes as no surprise that JCB can supply excavators for virtually any task. The excavators offer consistent productivity, superb durability and excellent fuel efficiency. Whether it’s the heaviest digging work at the quarry face, or versatile performance on the construction site, JCB tracked excavators are designed to cost less while making more. Reliable, economical and durable, these machines also offer a high resale value… if you can bear to part with them.
4 Gillette Fusion Gamer by P&G Gillette
P&G Gillette is a part of the shaving and razor manufacturing giant. The Reading business unit is an R&D laboratory responsible for the front end innovation for new razor products that are used across the world. For the past 50 years, the Reading Innovation Centre has created, prototyped and tested every new Gillette razor product that the company has launched such as the Mach 3 and Fusion blades. Gillette Fusion Gamer has five blades on the front, and a single sixth blade on the rear for precision trimming.
The Gillette Fusion Gamer Power is a motorized version of the Fusion which emits micropulses that help to reduce friction.
5 Predator 130 by Sunseeker
The Predator 130 is the latest and largest in the Sunseeker Performance Motoryacht range, and has been designed with true blue-water cruising in mind, featuring the company’s well proven hardchine hull and trademark high deck design. The deep ‘V’ hull design offers exceptional handling and seakeeping qualities, making this model easy to handle in all sea conditions.
The Predator 130 also has all the features expected on a luxury ocean-going vessel, such as the latest navigation and communication equipment. Built to the most stringent criteria, computerised engine management coupled with touch screen monitoring provides crew with information that is literally at their fingertips, which not only improves efficiency and safety but helps prevent malfunction. Advanced use of hydraulics, computercontrolled generators and electrical systems add to the Predator 130’s reliability. The sleek design houses a two and a half deck layout along with an exceptionally large flybridge that provides plenty of seating and sunbathing space along with a full bar layout and spa tub. The hardtop with opening sunroof provides shelter over the flybridge helm and seating/dining areas.
6 Oyster by Aquamarine Power Aquamarine Power is a wave energy company, with head offices in Edinburgh, Scotland, and further operations in Orkney and Northern Ireland. The company is currently developing its flagship technology, an innovative hydroelectric wave energy converter, known as Oyster.
Aquamarine Power’s goal is to develop commercial Oyster wave farms around the world. Oyster wave power technology has been designed to capture energy found in nearshore waves and convert it into clean sustainable electricity. The Oyster wave power device is a buoyant, hinged flap which is attached to the seabed at around ten metres depth, around half a kilometre from shore. This hinged flap, which is almost entirely underwater, sways backwards and forwards in the nearshore waves. The movement of the flap drives two hydraulic pistons which push high pressure water onshore to drive a conventional hydro-electric turbine. In essence, the Oyster wave power device is simply a large pump which provides the power source for a conventional onshore hydro-electric power plant. In 2013 Aquamarine Power in association with SSE Renewables will use the Oyster to implement a 200MW wave farm at Brough Head, Scotland.
7 Axial Flow Turbine by Bladon Jets
Bladon Jets has developed the smallest axial flow turbine in the world – just four inches in diameter and 4lbs in weight. Its patented breakthrough technology enables the production of highly-efficient, small gas turbine engines that are ideally suited for use in hybrid electric vehicles, providing a lightweight and multi-fuel alternative to the engines used in the majority of cars today. The turbine is only made possible at such a small scale due to the patented process of cutting the multi-stage compressor blade disk – aptly named the ‘blisk’.
It is hoped that this technology will help to overcome range anxiety associated with electric cars. The skilled engineers at Bladon Jets have worked closely with Jaguar in developing the C-X75 concept car that is being unveiled at the Paris Motor Show this year. At the heart of the C-X75 two-seater supercar are two mid-mounted micro gas turbines that can either charge the car’s batteries, allowing it to travel 560 miles (enough to drive from London to Berlin on a single tank) between fill-ups, or automatically provide supplementary power directly to the electric motors allowing the car to reach a top speed of 205 mph. Tata has agreed to become a minority shareholder in Bladon Jets.
8 RealitySeven simulator by Thales
Thales has been designing and manufacturing flight simulators in the UK for the last sixty years. In 2009, the company launched its latest model, the RealitySeven.
Although the launch was in the middle of a major downturn for the aviation industry, the simulator has been a success.
The RealitySeven simulator will be used for all civil aircraft types produced by Thales UK. Customers for the new simulator already include Airbus, Sukhoi, Turkish Airlines, the Tunisian Aircrew Training Centre (ATCT); the Russian carrier S7. The RealitySeven simulator includes many innovations including a new motion system that uses 80% less energy than previous motion systems. The system also uses 10% less hydraulic oil than the previous system, and this is biodegradable synthetic oil rather than the mineral oil used in the previous models. The simulator is modular which means that a customer could have two different aircraft cockpit modules that could be swapped, allowing training on two different aircraft types on the same simulator.
9 Medium Girder Bridge by WFEL
Based in Stockport, Greater Manchester for 75 years, WFEL is a global manufacturer of tactical military bridges use by armed forces in combat or civilian disaster relief operations.
First built in 1971, its Medium Girder Bridge (MGB) became a world famous design that would sell more than 500 units worldwide and be used by almost 40 different armed forces across the world. WFEL still manufacturers MGBs to this day at its site in Stockport, with nations including the UK and Turkey being among the most recent customers. MGB’s can be built to span gaps of anywhere between 10 and 50 metres or more by a small trained team in under ten minutes. A world record time of 7 minutes and 12 seconds set in Germany by the Army’s Royal Engineers in 1992.
10 Burgopak Packaging by Burgopak
The Burgopak design was thought up by 34-yearold designer and entrepreneur, Burgo Wharton 12 years ago. Its innovative patented sliding mechanism has since been used to package CDs, DVDs, gift cards, SIM cards, confectionary and mobile phones all over the world. Burgopak employs 60 people in four offices on three continents and has supplied over 90 million unique, desirable and innovative boxes using his patented sliding mechanism. In more recent years, the Burgopak design has moved into the pharmaceutical industry and is now being used by leading pharmaceutical companies, Bayer and Sanofi-Aventis.
The innovative pharmaceutical packs incorporate Burgopak’s patented sliding mechanism, keeping the patient information booklet, blisters and outer carton conveniently connected at all times.