Manufacturing in Swindon has a bright future, according to leading figures in the town’s engineering industry who addressed a breakfast event which focused on the key sector.
The seminar, staged by Swindon accountants Monahans in support of the town’s new University Technical College (UTC), heard from Raphaël Caillé, managing director of Swindon Engines, Dr Gareth Neighbour, head of dngineering and mathematical sciences at Oxford Brookes University and a director of the UTC, and Ian Lloyd, relationship partner at Monahans.
Each looked at a different aspect of manufacturing in a town built on innovative engineering, from the earliest days of the Great Western Railway to the Honda cars of today.
Swindon remains one of the South of England’s prime advanced manufacturing centres with a higher than average proportion of its workforce employed in the sector.
The event took place at Swindon’s STEAM museum, which celebrates the town’s railway engineering heritage.
Mr Caillé, whose business supplies high-performance engines and components and manages cutting-edge development projects in the automotive and the motor-racing industries, told the audience how he structured his takeover of a struggling company during a financial crisis and how he used drive and confidence in order to turn it around.
He spoke in depth of some of the challenges and obstacles he faced along with some of the positive company case studies, including the design and development of a new 450kW twin turbo engine.
Swindon Engines was recently appointed to supply a 1.6-litre turbo championship engine to the CTCC (Chinese Touring Car Championship) for the next four years.
The firm's engineers spent six months developing the unit, which can be fitted into any touring car entered in the CTCC from this year onwards.
Dr Neighbour spoke about the UTC, its sponsorship by Oxford Brookes and Swindon-based Johnson Matthey Fuel Cells, what it would mean for Swindon and for the engineering industry in general.
He encouraged attendees to get involved with the UTC in any way they could from providing apprenticeships to giving input into the curriculum.
The Swindon UTC opens next September with a vision to be a college where engineering and innovation can flourish. UTC Swindon will cater for 600 students, aged 14 to 19, interested in pursuing a career in engineering.
Mr Lloyds gave an overview of the growth of the manufacturing sector in the UK – a sector that employs 2.3m people.
He suggested four key areas of focus for manufacturing businesses to grow and improve including – processes, products, promotion and people.
Following the meeting e said: “It was great to see so many leading figures from the manufacturing industry in the room. We had some amazing feedback and guests were delighted to hear from our speakers, offering valuable questions and proving that the manufacturing industry is still alive. We are looking forward to our next event.”
Monahans works with many clients in the manufacturing sector and recognises the huge importance of manufacturing to the UK economy. As a partner of UTC Swindon, it is committed to developing manufacturing and engineering in the town.
The next Monahans Quarterly Manufacturing Breakfast is on February 6, 2014.