Championing our Local Engineering Eco-System

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Championing our Local Engineering Eco-System

In an age of globalisation, big data, Industry 4.0, Internet of Things, … Sometimes its just great to have a face-to-face chat, share and challenge ideas and collaborate to develop better solutions. I have been working with Conway Precision Engineering for the best part of twenty years now – and it’s always been a pleasure. It’s simply a business you want to work with.

In the past couple of years Garry (MD) and his team have been growing the business and on Tuesday had the official opening of their new factory. It was a grand affair, with lots of people who have been helping them including HSBC Bank, Birmingham City Council and Made in the Midlands.

There were also lots of blue-chip companies who have benefitted from their work – including (in no particular order) Rolls-Royce, Mercedes AMG, Lear, Jaguar and Land Rover, Meggitt, Gardner Aerospace, JCB, …

It was an honour to showcase some of the solutions we have created, helped by them. Their idea was to balance the traditional jig and gauge work they do, with True Position Robotics Ltd, TPR (www.tpr.solutions) advanced engineering work – where time and time again they manufacture and support us in our products.

The guest of honour was Cllr Yvonne Mosquito the Lord Mayor of Birmingham. Here she is interacting with a demo we made using a collaborative robot supplied by the local office of KUKA Robotics in Wednesbury (www.kuka.com). Conway have made the robot tool using Rapid Prototyping. This is part of a solution we promote in the UK from Belgium technology company FRS Robotics (www.frsrobotics.com). Videos were shown of their process for automotive assembly inspection of “closures” (doors, bonnets, tailgates, …) This uses a collaborative robot (from KUKA) and the FRS adaptive control development.

The robot “feels” its way around assembly and feedback from an ultrasonic sensor is used to adjust the position of the robot to the joint to ensure all the measurements are optimal.  This inspection proves the joints are good (will not corrode) – or highlights the need for an intervention. Its currently going into production for the new Audi electric SUV.

Here I am with Garry, explaining our solution for geometric inspection. Its basis is an optical coordinate measurement machine working just from infrared light. But it serves the same purpose as a physical X,Y,Z,Rx,Ry,Rz measurement machine. This is developed by Northern Digital Inc (www.ndigital.com) in Canada. The sensor used to acquire the surface geometry is the latest blue light laser from Nikon Metrology (www.nikonmetrology.com), that is made in the East Midlands. We integrate and resell both of these companies’ products used in our solution.

My business has integrated the devices together to create a complete measurement system based around an innovative housing we designed/produced. Conway not only machined the parts, created the rapid prototyping parts, but also involved in the different phases of prototyping. This is the first working model, with two other systems in build (a demo system and a customer sale).

Videos of another of our solutions, which we call ARC+ (Adaptive Robot Control Plus) was shown. This is for high accuracy robotic drilling and machining. Our latest version (Generation 4.0) is being used in an aerospace company. Conway have been involved in this task for many years, not only in machining – but in assembly and pneumatics (and the odd brainstorming session!)

Here is the Conway team with the VIP guests (although I cannot see June!). Perhaps that’s because of the Aston Villa livery - and yes, Aston Villa sent visitors as well! (the factory is really close to Villa Park).

But whilst the day was all about the new factory opening, there was time for a talk from Parkinson’s UK (who are the Charity Conway support). As ever Garry and his team give generously with their time, as well as their actions. I wish them every success in the new building (and hope some of that rubs off to TPR). We are part of a community, and days like this are very uplifting.