Independent training provider In-Comm Training and Birmingham-based manufacturing company Brandauer have joined forces to launch the UK’s first precision-tooling academy.
The two strategic partners have invested more than £1million to create a commercial toolroom in In-Comm’s facility in Aldridge that will produce complex tooling while also acting as a professional training ground for the toolmakers and designers of the future.
According to the partners, this represents a vital move for domestic industry, with the sector being held back by a severe lack of toolmakers and facing the possibility of losing these essential skills forever as older workers choose to retire. The Precision Tooling Academy aims to reverse this trend by offering companies access to professional toolmaking courses, upskilling opportunities for qualified engineers looking to diversify their skills and a Level 6 Tool Process Design Apprenticeship to develop the next generation of talent.
Training will be unlike anything currently on the market, with up to 35 individuals in the first 12 months able to learn on live tooling projects that will be producing hundreds of thousands of parts every week and will give Brandauer and other tooling experts the opportunity to re-shore more manufacturing projects from Asia, the EU and the USA.
A major car manufacturer has agreed to be the first company to put its engineers through the toolmaking course and has contributed to the development of the curriculum.
‘We have always placed employers at the heart of our approach to skills and, through our close relationship with Brandauer, identified a real demand to create and upskill engineers into world-class toolmakers,’ said Gareth Jones, managing director of In-Comm Training. ‘Lots of conversations turned into a rough plan to create an advanced training academy that is embedded into a live commercial toolroom. This would serve two purposes: providing the best possible hands-on practical and theoretical training, while also giving the precision-stamping specialist additional capacity to meet the growing global demand for more UK-made tools. A win–win and we’ve both backed it to the tune of £1million.
‘Brandauer has jointly developed the course syllabus around its own proven tooling-development process, while we have contributed our years of expertise in vocationally balanced delivery to offer truly unique course content,’ he continued. ‘This isn’t just a ground-breaking project for our two businesses, but for manufacturing as a whole. We immediately have provision for 35 training places, yet this could easily expand with more companies getting involved. This is open to everyone, whether you are an OEM or part of the supply chain.’
The Precision Tooling Academy has also attracted the support of Inventive Engineering & Design and Hexagon, which will bring product development, jig and fixture design and VISI die making expertise to the fore. Unique to the toolmaking sector, the latter is an end-to-end CAD/CAM solution that is used in the design, simulation and manufacture of progressive and stamping dies, and supports all parts of the process.
‘This is a real industry collaboration featuring some of the best names in training, toolmaking and tool design,’ said Rowan Crozier, CEO of Brandauer. ‘We are talking about one of the great manufacturing disciplines and we’re in a real pinch point now where a lot of the skills could be lost forever with people retiring. This academy – with more than £1million invested in GF AgieCharmilles and Mitsubishi wire EDM machines, CNC machines, grinders and ZwickRoell materia- testing equipment and Hexagon scanning arm – will begin to address this issue, as well as giving us additional toolroom capacity to produce commercial tools that will help us grow.’
The toolmaking programme features 12 units, ranging from manufacturing process, costing and strip layout to understanding the bill of materials, using a wire EDM machine, part validation and problem solving to ensure the tools work when they are built. Apprenticeships will also be offered in the form of a Level 6 in Tool Process Design, an advanced course that has been shaped in partnership with the Confederation of British Metalforming.
Further information can be found here.