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.


National Apprentice Week 2023

The National Apprenticeship Week this year saw a concerted effort to promote the many benefits of joining an apprentice programme to young people looking at their education and career options. The chance to continue to learn and work at the same time, with a recognised qualification at the end of the course, remains a highly attractive option to many young people. While for businesses an apprentice programme can help build their skills base within the workplace.

Since the very early days of Middlesex the business has believed in the long-term benefits of providing an apprentice programme. Every year since 1950 the company has taken on apprentices, and to date has trained well over one thousand people. There is of course the development of talented individuals into skilled staff highly valued in the industry. But apprentices are often best placed to progress into senior positions too; they bring their experience and ingrained company culture and a fresh impetus to help the business progress.

Middlesex Aerospace is able to point to many employees, both past and present, who started their first day as an apprentice. This includes Ian Monk who as Sales & Engineering Director of Middlesex Aerospace began his career here as an apprentice. The current management board of the company features over half of whom started out as an apprentice. And 1 in 3 people who work for Middlesex Aerospace left school and pursued an apprenticeship path to develop their engineering knowledge.

A successful apprentice programme is not solely in-house. Our historic partnership with Basingstoke College of Technology (BCoT), includes course sponsorship, providing work experience and inviting students to join our apprentice programme. This has been a particularly rewarding experience for all involved.  Finding young people and bringing them into the testing, fast-paced world of precision engineering remains a challenge in a world full of alternative and exciting career paths. But we believe our core values – delivering excellence, doing business with integrity, and working to bring out the best in people – continue to attract the very best young talent and help us move confidently into the future.


A Look At 2022

The last 12 months has seen some welcome development at Middlesex Aerospace. There has been real improvements in sustainability, investment in our production facilities and people, and we have helped to support the local community too. Here’s a look at 2022 with some highlights of what has been a busy and rewarding year.


During 2022 we have made some great strides to improve the sustainability of the business. Many aspects of our operations, including paper, packaging, lighting, and waste materials from production processes, have an impact on the environment. So where we can make a real reduction, either in what we use or throw away, is very much welcome.

Here’s some headline facts around what we have achieved this year.

27 trees were saved from being turned to wood pulp, thanks to our partnership in the Shred-it® paper recycling scheme.

148 Tonnes of waste materials have been recycled. A big factor here has been the introduction of two new compactors, which have improved how we handle swarf during production

18,000 litres of water saved, again in part due to the new compactors recovering fluids otherwise lost during production

Next year will see further efforts being made, such as extending the use of LED lighting technology. This will make our facilities almost entirely LED-lit, reducing energy consumption from lighting by nearly 90% – and stopping expired tubes and bulbs going into landfill.

AP Cell Completion

Earlier this year we completed a new cell manufacturing facility housing a new Aluminium Prismatic (AP) Stream. The cell consists of unmanned high volume 5-axis machining units, managed via Mazatrol Software. This new cell allows us to continue to produce intricate and complicated assemblies supplied in a kit of parts to our customers in a streamlined environment.

The new cell introduces some major benefits. It will increase our flexibility in meeting incoming orders, which is further helped by our Wrap Around Team in the cell. And it further improves our lean approach to how we service customer orders. And for staff, the new cell will help them find more ways to improve quality through identifying issues much closer to when they occur and finding answers.

CMM Investment

Alongside our development of the AP cell, this year has also seen a major investment in two Co-ordinates Measurement Machines.

Both machines are made by Hexagon, leaders in providing advanced measurement technology, and are located within our Aluminium Prismatic (AP) and LMT areas.

With the new CMM machines our production will become much smoother with faster programming and reduced downtime, and will save us around 141 days in resources lost to compiling the information for First Article Inspection every year.

And while the new machines are faster in their tasks, they also use less energy. They require about 25% less air to run, which means less loading on our existing air compressor installation, with a healthy reduction in energy consumption.

Supporting Local Football Teams

In November we were delighted to agree to support a local football club which helps children get active and develop their sports and development skills.

Winklebury Wizards is a community club run solely by parents and volunteers. There are now 3 Winklebury Wizards teams in the club proudly sporting the Middlesex Aerospace logo on their kit, with funding for training equipment and associated items to help them

We hope our support will bring Winklebury Wizards success on the pitch.  Just as importantly, we hope the support helps their children continue to develop, improve thir fitness and wellbeing, and become valued members within the community.

Encouraging New Talent To Precision Engineering

In early July we welcomed students from the Everest Community Academy for a tour around our facilities. It was all part of a campaign by Make UK, the manufacturer’s organisation, to encourage new talent to join the aerospace sector.

The students had a detailed tour of our production areas and offices during the day. They also had the chance to ask questions about careers in our industry and what paths they could take. This can include apprenticeship schemes and graduate intakes, and get advice on what courses may be most suitable for them.


We are very proud of our track record in helping young people develop a career in precision engineering. 2022 has seen us congratulate Jess on the successful completion of her apprenticeship. Jess is now looking forward to completing her HNC, which we will be giving her every support. We also welcomed our latest talented apprentice. Tomasz has joined us and now embarks on his 3-year apprenticeship with the Middlesex Team.


Middlesex Aerospace Sponsors Local Youth Football Teams

Winklebury Wizards Football Club

With a long history of developing excellence to achieve success, Middlesex Aerospace is proud to announce a partnership with Winklebury Wizards, a local community club which has strived for 20 years to help children improve their activity levels, confidence and sublime dribbling skills.

Winklebury Wizards fields a number of teams across youth groups from Under-7 to Under-15 levels, including girls’ teams, along with introductory sessions for children from 3-6 years.  The club is run by parents and volunteers, and aims to provide a fun, safe and friendly environment for kids to learn and develop their football skills.

Sponsorship of 3 teams by Middlesex Aerospace allows the football club to buy necessary kit, training equipment and associated items that will help the players continue to develop their skills and improve their fitness and wellbeing.

With the pandemic thankfully now behind us, sport participation is seeing a rise back to 2019 levels. However, as numbers at that point had been declining, and the following two years saw community clubs hit hard by lockdowns, we believe local businesses can play a vital role in helping children to enjoy a more active lifestyle which also develops their social skills.

“Sports participation is vital for children to develop their health and confidence for the future”, said Laurence Foulds, Managing Director of Middlesex Aerospace. “We hope our support of 3 Winklebury Wizards teams goes some way towards them enjoying a great season and learning new skills, both on and off the pitch.”


National Manufacturing Day

There may be a perception that manufacturing in the UK has all but disappeared. In fact, this is very far from true. As Make UK’s National Manufacturing Day proves, manufacturing in the UK is more than just alive – it’s thriving.  The UK has a long historical culture of innovation which has produced amongst the biggest leaps forward in aerospace. When combined with highly talented and resourceful engineers, it results in the UK boasting an industry in high demand around the world for its services.

It also means we must make even greater efforts to look ahead and attract the best young talent and show them how rewarding a career in aerospace can be. So it is with great pride that Middlesex Aerospace has teamed up with Make UK, the manufacturer’s organisation, and will be throwing open our doors to show students from the Everest Community Academy on the 7th July.

During guided tours and question sessions, students will be get a first-hand view into our operations. From procurement to They will be shown the varied roles which combine to produce precision parts for the world’s biggest names in aviation. They can also ask about career paths, from apprenticeship schemes to graduate intakes, and get advice on what courses may be most suitable for them.


Squeezing More Out Of Waste

Sustainability in Aerospace

As a leading manufacturer of aerospace components we produce a significant level of non-ferrous metal waste during machining processes, known as swarf. While a single piece swarf looks almost insignificant- a single piece of short swarf could be just a few mm and only 0.1mm in thickness) multiply it in the thousands and you can have a considerable amount of material piling up very quickly.

Recovering swarf produced during manufacturing process has long been a part of our efforts to operate a sustainable business. However, there are two issues we face when recovering swarf:

  • Swarf can take up a considerable amount of space for a given weight. This requires us to devote more space to storage and time spent handling than is desirable.
  • Retained Oils and Fluids. Machining components requires cutting oils and cooling fluid. Swarf retains these oils and fluids, so more has to be bought in to replace the lubricants now lost. The fluids present in the swarf then travel through storage and handling, pooling and staining containers which then need to be regularly cleaned –  potentially putting these contaminants in water courses.

Paul Foulds, CEO of Middlesex Aerospace, expanded on the issue further. “We wanted to find a way to recover the fluids used in the machining processes for re-use, and reduce the amount of volume taken up by metal swarf.  To achieve this we realised the best solution was to invest in two compacting machines reducing the volume of swarf and the amount of fluid the waste metal held.

Finding a solution to handling swarf and machining fluids.

After a period of research to ascertain the ideal equipment to suit our current and future levels of swarf production, we decided to bring in two compacting machines made by Jvonne in Italy.

Commitment to excellence

Jvonne, who opened their doors in 1986, have an excellent reputation for clamping and compacting solutions, and their high-quality standards approach mirrors our own commitment to excellence. The compacting units will handle up to 20Kg of alloy swarf per hour and deliver several key benefits to our manufacturing operations and sustainability objectives, including:

  • Fluid/Oil Recovery. The compacting processes will allow us to significantly reduce the moisture content in swarf generated during manufacturing. Fluid retention has declined from a max of 30% by volume to an impressive 1% potentially achievable. The fluids can then be pumped back to our machines for re-use.
  • Reduced storage required. The compacting process – which uses a hydraulic ram to force the swarf pieces together – reduces the volume of the material by up to 80%.


Great achievements

The Jvonne compactors were installed within Middlesex Aerospace’s facility and have handled their role of reducing swarf volume along with recovering fluids impressively. “Since installation we have seen the compactors make a real contribution to our sustainability efforts.” Said Paul. “We were determined to reduce the environmental impact of our use of machining fluids. Now, we recover and re-use most of the lubricating fluid previously lost in machining. And by compacting swarf into easy-to-handle blocks it has become far more efficient to handle and recycle. We’ve reduced not just the space needed to store it, but also the number of collections to take it away.“

  • Easier handling. Swarf in its loose state is messy to handle, can take up a lot of time to move and needs continual cleaning up to prevent it spreading around a facility. By contrast, the compacting process turns the loose swarf into compressed shapes – briquettes -which can be handled easily and stored in containers, racking or free standing.
  • Reduced emissions. As the high-volume swarf is turned into high-density briquettes, it means collection is faster and more efficient. Jvonne estimate the use of their compactors will reduce emissions from transporting away the swarf by 70-80%.

Efficiencies across our operations

The introduction of the two compactors will help us to achieve significant efficiencies across our operations and reduce our impact on the environment, benefits we believe our partners will appreciate and welcome the knock-on effect for them.

Read more about our sustainability initiatives and plans here 


Focused on sustainability – wood recycling

2022 is off to a great start as we stay focused on sustainability with our wood recycling

As a manufacturer of precision parts for the aerospace sector, we receive a lot of deliveries of raw materials and components. Most of these items arrive using wood for the packaging and transport.

Wood has long been a favoured material for transporting items. It provides excellent impact protection, is much safer than metal containers in low-spark environments, can be re-used much more than paper, and is far greener than oil/chlorine based plastics which are difficult to recycle.   But over time we built up a sizeable amount of wood at our facility which wasn’t going to be re-used by ourselves, so it needed to go. Problem was, we didn’t want to just throw it away. Rather, we wanted to see the wood we had go on to be re-used where possible to retain its carbon storage and recycled for a new life if possible too.

To help us meet these goals we turned to Oxford Wood Recycling in Abingdon. Oxford Wood Recycling is a charity which collects wood no longer wanted by businesses or domestic owners and looks to re-use as much as possible. The waste wood collected can either be turned into furniture or refinished for DIY projects or broken down for making panel boarding. Scaffold planks are refurbished so they can return to site. And the remainder is recycled for use in biomass energy production.

One of the great things about Oxford Wood Recycling is their determination to making a positive social impact. The charity employs 20 people and works with a network of volunteers, placements and trainees, many with disabilities, to help them develop their careers.  Working with the charity is very easy. It only takes a phone call to get them to collect the wood we had collected and the process was very quick and efficient. Oxford Wood Recycling use high-capacity caged pick-ups vehicles, which removes the need for us to order skips that take up much-needed space. In a short space of time the pile of waste wood was gone, heading to a new life. Your next DIY project might contain some of the wood they collected.

By asking Oxford Wood Recycling to collect our waste wood we have been able to stay focused on sustainability, with the added benefits of helping a charity continue to assist less-abled people develop useful career skills. We’d certainly recommend Oxford Wood Recycling to our partners and hope to see them again when our stock of waste wood piles up.