South Shields based Ford Aerospace Ltd has announced that it is investing over £1 million in advanced manufacturing equipment and strengthening its team with senior skills as the business continues to grow.
The business, which was acquired in April 2023 by SPIROL, a family-owned manufacturing group headquartered in the USA, has invested in equipment which will allow the team to grow production capabilities, to increase the size of the components that are able to be produced and to enable more accurate inspection of parts.
A recently purchased Lynx 2100 LYSB and a Puma GT 2600M are now producing parts on the shop floor and a Keyance IM-800 Image Dimension Measurement System is increasing capacity in the inspection department. Future purchases will include a state of the art guillotine which will double the company’s current sheet cutting capacity, a 5th Axis machining centre and Mat Lab equipment with a stronger microscope for inspection.
The announcement comes after a spate of award-wins for Ford Aerospace, including SME Company of Year at the North East Automotive Alliance Awards and the Automotive, Aerospace and Rail Award at the Made in the North East Awards 2023; an accolade that sees the team put through to the national Made in the UK Awards in July this year.
Nathan McCully, quality manager at Ford Aerospace said, “The investment in equipment and people is fantastic to see. We recently we purchased a Keyance IM-8000 Image Dimension Measurement System to increase our capacity and capability in the inspection department. This system allows simultaneous measurements to be performed in seconds, with up to 300 dimensions and 100 parts measured at the push of a button. Automated focus and measurement capability provides consistent results which eliminate operator error.
“We’re currently training the team to use our new equipment across the site, though the user-friendly nature of the machines means that training only needs to be limited, allowing operators in all departments to benefit from the investment.”
Ford Aerospace, which turned 113 this year, is also looking to grow the specialist skills within the team. The business is currently recruiting a marketing and sales lead, HR generalist, estimator, maintenance technician, a CNC turner and a CNC miller. Recruitment is also underway for a new managing director to lead the business. The new MD will work alongside former managing director Chris Ford, great-grandson of founder Robert Ford, who is staying with the business in a consultancy capacity.
Speaking about the bright future of the company, Chris Ford said, “It is fantastic to see SPIROL continuing our tradition of investing in people and increasing our capacity to deliver exceptional work for our clients. It is clear that SPIROL respects Ford’s strong position in the UK market, and product manufacturing knowledge.
“The business is in a strong position and there is an exceptional management team in place and staff who make me feel comfortable that now is the time to take my career in a different direction. I am proud of what we have achieved as a family, especially the work to establish our skills academy in the region and I am excited to see the business go from strength to strength under new leadership and as part of the SPIROL group.”
Ford Aerospace’s technical skills in ‘space compensating’ management – the production of laminated and solid shims which ensures fast, precision tolerance compensation used on products such as fuselages, gearboxes and movable components – was a key offering that attracted SPIROL. These solid and laminated shims enable clients to reduce stock of individual shims and offers the option of “sizing” a particular shim by adjusting the shim pack to the desired thickness on assembly. These products simplify the assembly process while simultaneously reducing the overall cost of the assembly.