New Apprentices at Middlesex Aerospace

Attracting and nurturing talented young people into leading precision engineers of tomorrow is essential to the future success of our business. Middlesex Aerospace has operated an apprenticeship scheme since 1950. Over a third of our staff, including members of the senior team, started out as apprentices.  Over the decades we have committed to investing in future talent and develop strong relations with the education sector. This allows us to provide an outstanding apprenticeship scheme in both the technical certificate and NVQ programme.


The latest apprentices to join our scheme are Jason Buckle, who is 18 years old from Basingstoke, and Scott Wilson, 19 years old from Medstead. Jason and Scott have now settled in as first year students at Basingstoke College of Technology, studying Level 3 Engineering Technician.


As apprentices Jason and Scott attend BCoT on a day release basis over the next three years. This gives them a combination of class-based study with practical experience within our facilities. For their first year at Middlesex Aerospace both Jason and Scott have been placed in the Toolroom. They are receiving mentoring from Dave Andrews, who possesses over 50 years experience. This is providing invaluable experience and advice to augment their college course.


It is great to have them both on the team at Middlesex Aerospace, and we wish Jason and Scott every success in their chosen career with us.


Using manufacturing data to improve our work

At Middlesex Aerospace we have long appreciated the value of data produced from manufacturing processes in our business. Providing precision engineering services to the aerospace industry means we generate large volumes of data. And this information comes from a rich variety of sources throughout our manufacturing processes and as part of the supply chain.

The challenge was to harness the data we produce and use it to support how we have embraced Kaizen. The basis of Kaizen is to continuously improve, and we empower everyone within the business to contribute. Changes can at times be almost imperceptible, but this gradual approach allows us to stay in the vanguard of delivering the highest quality standards in our work.

Data can provide insights to improve how we work. So it is important that everyone should see relevant data to help them be part of our Kaizen process. to do this, we need to present information to people and teams who could use it to improve our processes. Plus, we needed to do this fast. It’s vital we help employees to quickly identify areas that can be improved. And see the impact of decisions as they happen rather than some time in the future.

Utilising Business Intelligence

To achieve this, we invested in the adoption of a Business Intelligence platform called PowerBI. Part of the Microsoft portfolio, PowerBI is able to process data from our manufacturing processes into meaningful insight. So we can understand how our business is performing.

PowerBI also presents information in visual formats that a user can quickly understand, and act where required. And finally, PowerBI does this fast, so we are able to present information in real time. Alternatively, we can import data into other apps such as Word or PowerPoint for review.

To enable PowerBI, we connected the application to our Materials Requirements Planning (MRP) system. The feed of raw data is then analysed and presented as key metrics to staff. This is provided via displays installed throughout our facilities. Importantly, this is done in real time, so opportunities to improve can be spotted immediately. We can then see the impact of any changes as they take place.

The Power of Data in Practice

So how does work in practice? As an example, via our MRP and PowerBI platforms we can pull live data from our New Work To List system. Teams can then see relevant job information, including its location within our facilities, in real time. The data can also be displayed by its priority number. This allows us to arrange work for best response or quality results. So we can maintain critical quality standards for our aerospace clients. It also ensures Defence Safety Authority (DSA) reports – which are also included in the live data stream – reflect on work delivered to customers each day, on time and in full.

This move to real time view of work in our facilities as it happens means our staff see first-hand the benefits of reaching quality standards. They can also see improvements from changes they instigate. This makes it a great motivator for both individuals and teams to be directly involved in our relentless drive to maintain the very highest standards.

So, our work to use data through our manufacturing processes allows us to make informed and accurate decisions by using the platforms that runs Middlesex Aerospace. Helping us to continuously improve quality, deliver a better service to customers, and understand how we work faster and easier – automatically.



How We Always Strive To Improve

Middlesex Aerospace uses Kaizen philosophy to improve processes and quality

If any organisation wants to develop and evolve, it must be open to new ideas and ways to run its business. This is especially true for us here at Middlesex Aerospace.  As a manufacturer we work within industries which demand the highest standards. Where we can find new ways to raise quality or improve our position in supply chains, our customers will of course benefit. And how we strive to improve our business is to look for inspiration from others, learn from them and adopt ideas which we can be confident will work.

It is for those reasons we decided some time ago to introduce Kaizen into Middlesex Aerospace. You might well have already heard of Kaizen, but in case you need some details here’s a quick background for you.

‘Kai’ and ‘Zen’, Japanese for ‘Change For The Better’ is an approach to business improvement. The methodology can trace its roots back to the USA during World War 2, when the Training With Industry programme was developed to help reduce the impact of skilled personnel being called up to fight.

Within the TWI programme was a new approach to reaching objectives. Rather than make major, wholesale changes to processes, small incremental steps were encouraged, often being implemented as they were suggested. At the end of the war, this approach was brought to Europe and Asia to help with rebuilding the homes and businesses left shattered by conflict.

In Japan, the Americans brought in the programme to help develop local business management skills. Within this was an introduction titled ‘Improvement In Four Steps’ – ‘Kaizen eno Yon Danka’.

The 5 Principles Of Kaizen

Kaizen consists of 5 principles:

Know your Customer

If you understand what your customer wants, you can then identify how to add value to their experience

Let it Flow

Find where waste occurs in your work – and come up with new ways to eliminate it

Go to Gemba

Gemba is translated as ‘the real place’. So this principle is about following the process and spot where value is being created. That’s ‘the real place’, or Gemba

Empower People

To make Kaizen work, you give your staff goals and the means to achieve them

Be Transparent

By showing how the business is performing, people can see the effects of changes as they occur. And it’s showing the success of those changes that encourages people to be involved in Kaizen.


Kaizen Can be Everywhere

An important point if, like us, you’re always strive to improve across all aspects of our business. Kaizen is not restricted to production. You apply it throughout your organisation. When applied within a supply chain, the incremental improvements can result in major jumps forward in efficiency and quality. It has helped us to become valued partners to many of our customers, through applying Kaizen to our work in their supply chains and helping to develop their product.

From our perspective, the beauty of Kaizen is how it involves everyone. All staff within Middlesex Aerospace play a vital role and all can have an input into improving our business. Changes can be almost imperceptible, but they deliver more efficient, effective work – resulting in ever higher quality. And that commitment to relentless improvement matches how we always strive to improve. Plus of course, it places us as a preferred partner for more and more of the premium names in aerospace and other sectors demanding precision engineering services.


Middlesex Aerospace Renews Critical Certification

image of a plane in flight

At Middlesex Aerospace we are committed to provide the highest levels of quality and security to our partners. As part of our continual accreditation process we have been informed our Cyber Essentials Plus certification has once again been renewed.

The Cyber Essentials standard was the brainchild of the National Cyber Security Centre. Supported by the UK Government, the accreditation was developed by the technology industry. The aim of Cyber Essentials is to help companies improve their digital defences and defend themselves from potentially disastrous cyber attacks. The standard is effectively a baseline of controls for a business and their internal and perimeter defences. Holding a current Cyber Essentials Plus certification vital to our work. This certification is a mandatory requirement when looking to become a partner with the Ministry of Defence.

By continuing being Cyber Essentials Plus certified we can demonstrate we have met a set level of security within our infrastructure. This is vital within the defence sector as we manage sensitive and, in some cases, highly confidential data. For many partners in the aerospace supply chain security is vital. They need to have confidence in providing us with information that must remain private. Cyber Essentials helps us to provide that level of reassurance to them.

The Cyber Essentials certification is not just a requirement of the Ministry of Defence either. Many major organisations request this certification is secured. Renewing our certification means Middlesex Aerospace is able to become involved in their supply chains as well.

Ultimately, Cyber Essentials is a practical, effective route to ensuring your company is able to combat common cyber security breaches. For us here at Middlesex Aerospace we believe it gives you, as a supplier or customer partner in the aerospace sector, the confidence to work closely with us knowing we operate a resilient infrastructure and can be trusted to handle your commercially sensitive data safely.

Middlesex Aerospace Cyber Essentials Plus


Middlesex Aerospace Attends First EM3 Careers Meeting

Middlesex Aerospace apprentice EM3 careers hub meeting

EM3, the region’s leading business-led strategic economic partnership organisation, discussed the barriers to apprenticeships at their first Careers Hub Steering Group meeting recently.

The event, which included delegates from a range of businesses and organisations across Hampshire, featured a workshop look at how employers could work to provide more opportunities to young people, improving access to training and promoting non-University centric career paths.

During the meeting, delegates heard from Alan Hay, who is an apprentice at Middlesex Aerospace. Alan joined the aviation and aerospace component manufacturer five years ago, after learning about the company at an apprenticeship fair held at Basingstoke College of Technology.

Alan, who is a New Product Introduction and special projects engineer, spoke of his positive experience as an apprentice, where he could earn while he learned in a very supportive environment. But he said: “It was completely potluck that I found out about Middlesex Aerospace.”

In fact, it was all down to his mother encouraging Alan to attend the apprenticeship fair. “The awareness of apprenticeships at school wasn’t very good,” explained Alan. “My teachers had told me I should go to college and study engineering, but they didn’t actually tell me about apprenticeships. It was seeing Middlesex Aerospace at the fair that made me think engineering was something I was interested in as a career.”

It was while studying at BCoT that Alan became much more aware of apprenticeships, in part thanks to going on work experience and meeting different businesses at apprenticeship evenings.

Alan’s manager Michael Clarkson was full of praise for Alan and keen to promote apprenticeships as an excellent way of bringing both new talent to a business and upskilling young people.

While some businesses view apprenticeships as an added cost, Michael said Alan was a great example of how apprentices can instead save money through giving them a chance to use their skills and abilities.

In Alan’s case, Middlesex Aerospace tasked him to research and source equipment to replace a manual process of measuring the quality of components. “As parts are being machined, they are now being checked at the same time. This improves production flow without compromising quality. As a result, our ability to meet even shorter deadlines increases capacity for more customers,” said Michael.

“Alan’s very clever and is a real asset. Now he’s head of two machines worth £500,000 which is great. He’s shown his capabilities and he’s got the knowledge. He’s very interested in engineering and has the ability to focus on getting the job done within time scales.”

Suzanne Dixon, said: “The event gave businesses, training providers and the Enterprise M3 Careers Hub team the opportunity to discuss barriers to apprenticeship and technical education take up.”

“Findings from the session will be shared with the Careers and Enterprise Company and the Department of Education.”

Ou thanks to Suzanne for facilitating this invaluable meeting and we look forward to working with EM3 to advance the positive benefits of apprenticeships in the future.


NADCAP Accreditation By PRI: Feedback From Laurence Foulds

Middlesex Aerospace Nadcap certified

Following an intensive inspection process, Performance Review Institute has informed us that Middlesex Aerospace has achieved Nadcap® accreditation for Non-Destructive Testing. Furthermore, our recent audit has earned the company an additional 2 credits, meaning the certification remains in place until 2025.

To reach this standard is highly challenging; indeed, many members of the aerospace supply chain do not reach this level. PRI undertook a detailed examination of our business, looking at our work, approach to quality, investment in technology, and the skills and experience of our people.

If you are wondering who Performance Review Institute is, here is some background for you.

For many years aerospace companies would audit their suppliers to ensure they complied with self-created process requirements. As both customer requirements and partner processes were often similar, it resulted in huge levels of repetition with no real value; repeating the same reviews made them redundant and merely created work for no reason, increasing costs.

Alarmed at how this situation impacted development and manufacturing in aerospace, a conference in the US comprising of Government and industry leaders recommended creating an independent body to undertake the audits of supply chain partners. This led to the formation of PRI in 1990, tasked with administering the National Aerospace and Defense Contractors Accreditation Program – Nadcap.

I believe this award perfectly illustrates our complete commitment to quality. It is very much a testament to the highly skilled teams here within Middlesex Aerospace and their expertise and determination to pass this audit with flying colours. It’s no exaggeration to say I am immensely proud of everyone at Middlesex Aerospace. We have always believed our work places us on a par with any of our peers. Nadcap certification is testament to our relentless drive to achieving the very highest standards.

I’ll end with these words from Jay Solomond, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at the Performance Review Institute. “This is an impressive achievement by Middlesex Aerospace, with their ability to meet demanding industry and customer requirements now recognised globally. I am delighted to congratulate Middlesex Aerospace for their dedication and professionalism which has led to their achieving Nadcap accreditation.

Once again, congratulations to everyone here within Middlesex Aerospace. And for our partners, we look forward to bringing you ever-higher standards of quality and service.

Laurence Foulds, Managing Director



The Paris Air Show 2023

Middlesex Aerospace Paris Air Show 2023

Now in it’s 54th outing, the Paris Air Show returns on the 19th June for 7 days’ at the Le Bourget Parc des Expositions in France.

As the largest air show and exhibition in the world, the biennial Paris Air Show remains an enduringly popular fixture in the event calendar. 2,453 exhibitors from 49 countries will present their products and services to nearly 140,000 visitors across the aerospace sector. Not forgetting of course the sight of 140 aircraft on display.

The last staging of the show was back in 2019; the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic forced the 2021 even to be cancelled. So the return of what has become an iconic event that has featured so many iconic airplanes across the decades is most welcome.

Middlesex Aerospace will be present at the Paris Air Show, and we look forward to meeting with many of our close supply chain partners whilst there. We will also be on hand to discuss projects with industry attendees and exhibitors, and look forward to a hectic and rewarding 7 days at what is very much a reference point for the aerospace industry.


Our Move to LED Lighting In Middlesex Aerospace

Middlesex Aerospace Offices LED Lighting

What is the one thing we have in common with the vast majority of businesses across the UK? We believe it is our drive to reduce our impact on the environment. As a manufacturer, we have already taken huge steps to reduce waste. We have removed single-use plastics, recover fluids, and recycle machined metal much more effectively. But we also need to reduce our energy consumption. Which brings us to our move to LED lighting in Middlesex Aerospace.

The End Of Fluorescent Tube Lighting

Good lighting is crucial in our business processes. It allows staff to be able to conduct visual inspections of components. And it is vital for everyone’s safety too. A badly-lit workplace is an unpleasant environment containing a haven for trip hazards and other injuries. So, for safety and quality, we must ensure we have the best lighting possible.

The To provide excellent lighting, our facilities have historically used fluorescent tubes. While these can reliably provide a good spread of light, they also have their issues, including:

  • Efficiency: Although fluorescent tubes are more efficient than incandescent bulbs, they still consumer a lot of power. A typical tube producing 3,000 Lumens will use 55watts – plus another 5Watts for the ballast. Multiply that by the dozens we have in the factory and offices, and that’s a lot of energy.
  • Short Working Life: In terms of their real-world operating times, flourescent tubes can be a bit of a lottery these days. You will see some claim they will work for up to 5 years, but we find any more than 2 years and they are on borrowed time.
  • Recycling: As they contain mercury, fluorescent tubes are not good for the environment. In fact, tubes are commonly just dumped for incinerating.

Why Go LED?

If you compare LED lighting to the points above, three major benefits spring up.

First, LED lights are far more efficient. To produce the same amount of light as a fluorescent tube, LED systems use less than half the amount of energy. Plus, they don’t require a ballast, saving even more.

Second, LED lights last far longer. Real-world usage shows LED lighting to have a working life of up to 4 times more than a fluorescent tube. That’s around 8 years, meaning less business interruption from maintenance.

And third, LED lighting is more straightforward to recycle. The metal components can be stripped out and the electronics sent to the same facilities which recycle computers.

But perhaps the biggest incentive to upgrade from fluorescent to LED lighting is cost. Compared to our old tubes, LED lights need as little as 10% to keep our facilities bright, productive and safe. Which, in today’s climate of high energy bills, is a major plus.

Moving To A LED-Lit Future

For these reasons we have been undertaking an ongoing programme of upgrading all the lighting currently in place in our facilities. During January we have been completing the final significant stage of this change to LED lighting. Now, all the office spaces within Middlesex Aerospace will feature LED technology, taking our total usage of LED systems to over 95%.

This shift from fluorescent to LED lighting is a major step-change in the sustainability of our business. From lowering our energy consumption to improving recycling – and reducing toxins being released – along with improving safety and quality, our move to LED lighting in Middlesex Aerospace simply can’t be overstated.


Celebrating International Women’s Day

Middlesex Aerospace celebrate International Women's Day

International Women’s Day, falling on 8th March this year, is a good moment for us at Middlesex Aerospace to look at how we could encourage more women to pursue a career in engineering.

We take pride in our efforts to ensure our apprenticeship scheme is open to female students. But this has to be taken in context that, in our wider society, women remain very much a minority.  The UK, like the US, only has around 16% of engineers that are women. Now that is a massive rise from sixty years ago, where women accounted for around 1% of all engineers, but we recognise much more work needs to be done to raise that percentage further.

There is no simple answer to how we can achieve this. And, to be fair, huge strides have been made within education to try and overcome deeply ingrained attitudes to women wanting to work in science disciplines. But if we were to make one small suggestion, it is to try and dispel the myth that, historically, women were never involved in engineering – and to make their achievements much more widely known.

When you look back, women have not just featured in the history of engineering, but also been responsible for many innovations too. We’ll list a few short examples here to illustrate this.

Notable Women In Engineering

When you look back, women have not just featured in the history of engineering. They have also been responsible for many innovations too. We’ll list a few short examples here to illustrate this.

  • Beatrice Shilling, a MSc in mechanical engineering, developed the Rolls-Royce Merlin engine that gave fighter pilots a distinct advantage in combat (Beatrice’s birthday was, coincidentally, also the 8th March).
  • Amy Johnson, famed for her record-breaking solo flights, was 22 years old when she became the first woman to receive a ground engineer certificate from the British Air Ministry.
  • Women have played major roles in NASA space programmes over the years. Honourable mentions here to Kitty O’Brien Joyner, NASA’s first woman engineer, as well as Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson.
  • The development of gas-turbines for aircraft is largely down to the work of Dr Margaret Fishenden into combustion and heat transfer.
  • Computing has perhaps seen the most visible achievements from women engineers. There was Ada Lovelace, the very first computer programmer for Babbage’s Analytical Engine. we will also make an honourable mention of the role of so many women in the development of electronic computing in the post-war period.
  • You may know Hedy Lamarr as a famous actress but she was also responsible for developing frequency-hopping technology found today in the likes of Bluetooth enabled devices.

There are many more across different areas in engineering that could join the women highlighted above. The post-war cultural changes to the workplaces has ensured engineering is a career field that can be open to women. But as we are celebrating International Women’s Day we must work harder to remove the barriers that some women may feel are in place. We must celebrate the role than women have played in engineering. Then we will encourage a new generation to take that step and join them.


Measuring Up To Ever Higher Standards

Middlesex Aerospace measuring up to reach higher standards

To Support Value Stream Growth Middlesex have invested in two dedicated Co-ordinate Measurement Machines (CMM). Both are made by Hexagon, a brand very well known in aviation, with customers including Airbus, Boeing and Rolls-Royce. Indeed, Hexagon is a familiar name to us here; we already use their Edgecam and Javelin software.

Each CMM has been positioned within a value stream, with the objective to reduce inspection time and production bottlenecks. The first, a Global S Chrome 7.10.7, is now within our Aluminium Prismatic (AP) area. The second, a Hexagon Global S Chrome 12.22.10 has been positioned in our Large Mill Turn (LMT) area. This reduces production bottlenecks caused by downtime for the existing CMM to process different pieces of work in progress, making an important, and potentially huge – contribution to production efficiency.

The new machines will also play a significant role in conforming to First Article Inspection This is where an item is inspected when it is produced for the first time, or when a change in an aspect of its production changes. FAI is vital in ensuring specifications and standards are maintained throughout a supply chain – but this can also mean a lot of hours spent completing paperwork to what is known as the AS9102 standard. The new machines help to automate this by outputting their results into a AS9102 format – saving us around 141 days in resources lost to compiling the information every year.

As both CMM units sit within production areas, they will continue to be used by staff making the components. To facilitate familiarity both machines use a simple interface, making them fast to learn which will further speedup their deployment. It actually means they can potentially be used by anyone on the shop floor, which would make the inspection process more flexible. This does not, however, come at the expense of reduced oversight; The machines are cloud enabled, making monitoring of them by quality staff straightforward. Similarly, programming each machine to undertake measurement of components is significantly easier too; software evolves fast and with our new machines we can be up and running in nearly two-thirds of the time our old machine would require.

Of course, the speed at which automating measurement of components is going to be a major factor. The new machines are easily able to reduce inspection time by half when compared to our previous CMM unit – again making a real impact on potential bottlenecks on our workflow.

But higher speed doesn’t necessarily come at the expense of more energy. For example, the new machines will continue to use compressed air to undertake certain finite measurements, but cut down its use by 25%. That equates to less loading on our existing air compressor installation, and thus a healthy reduction in energy consumption.

The impact of the machines, which were commissioned in September, has been immediate. Workflows are much smoother, with disruption caused by machine downtime massively reduced and throughput far higher. The result is a marked improvement in product delivery, and further builds our ability to meet the ever-changing needs of our customers. And looking ahead, the ability to integrate the machines with our existing Javelin and Edgecam software as well as potential purchase of other solutions, puts us well-placed to embrace the opportunities of Industry 4.0.