‘Apprentice Power’ helps Brandauer secure £500,000 ‘nose clip’ reshoring opportunity
The engineering expertise of four In-Comm Training supported apprentices has played a key role in the launch of a new modular tooling approach that is enabling the rapid development of new nose clip designs for use in face coverings all over the world.
Brandauer, one of the UK’s leading metal pressings and stamping specialists, has employed the young engineers in the roll-out of its Quick Clip Tool modular tooling concept, which was one of the first in the country to win funding from Innovate UK’s Covid-19 Business-Led-Innovation in Response to Global Disruption fund.
Part of the Manufacturing Assembly Network (MAN), the company used £75,000 to develop a quick changeover capability to a progression tool, giving it the option to manufacture the clips in multiple profiles, widths, thicknesses and lengths.
It has given the Birmingham-based manufacturer the opportunity to win over £500,000 of reshoring business from Asia over the next five years and extends its production capacity to 100 million nose clips per year. This meets a 50% increase in demand from existing customers, as well as selling its own products direct to the marketplace.
Bekki Phillips, Chief Operating Officer at In-Comm Training, commented: “This is a fantastic example of the operational and financial benefits apprentices can deliver when they are fully backed and integrated into the business.
“We have worked closely with Brandauer to develop a strong strategic relationship for developing the engineers of the future and this is now paying off with new thinking around product introductions leading to efficient manufacturing processes and new sales.”
Oliver Eskriett and Dean Jones were involved in the design and assembly of the progression tool, with Kaielum Kerr machining and manufacturing the different tooling elements.
They were joined by fellow In-Comm Training Quality apprentice Tom Crozier, who was in charge of sampling and first article inspection.
With apprentices now making up 15% of Brandauer’s total workforce, it came as no surprise that the project was managed by New Production Introduction engineer Alex Walton, himself a former apprentice.
Dean Jones picked up the story: “You can’t beat learning on the job and one of the great things about working here is the diversity of products you work on.
“This one was special. We all know the importance of face masks to protect against Covid-19 and this is our own small way of contributing to the fightback. It’s great that it has been a real team effort from the apprentices and that we’ve been able to put what we’ve learned into really good use.”
Rowan Crozier, CEO of Brandauer, concluded: “Face coverings have become part and parcel of everyday life and we reacted very early on to ensure our position as a critical supplier was cemented.”
“With funding secured from Innovate UK, we decided to get our young apprentices to work on the design, the prototyping, the product introduction and then the actual manufacture.
“They were overseen by the senior management team, but intervention was rarely needed. Instead, we revelled in watching young engineers embrace a task that could save lives as well as being commercially viable for our business.”