Celebrating 75 Years 1945 – 2020

“When Middlesex Aerospace was established 75 years ago, the company had no idea where it would be today. However, there are several aspects of the Middlesex story that are as true today as they were then: its core values of delivering excellence, doing business with integrity and working to bring out the best in people. Middlesex Aerospace continues to do that and looks with confidence to an eventful future for us all.” Managing Director, Laurie Foulds.

Stronger and more resilient than ever

We have always strived to build strong partnerships at every level throughout our network, this allows us to remain resilient and create firm foundations for a secure future. Working together allows us to deliver industry leading solutions that will benefit us all.

We are proud to deliver consistent innovation

Core in-house manufacturing capabilities and strategic on-going investments in state of the art production multi-axis machines allow us to meet the most rigorous of aerospace requirements. Automation and robotics will play an important part in our future and allow us to focus on adding value. Innovation is essential and encouraged at every stage of our work. Our teams lead and manage change across every stage from design, manufacture, production and supply that directly benefits our customers.

The world is changing and we are adapting our operations to new ways.

Our implementation of new technology is matched by the up-skilling and retention of our committed teams and apprentices. The Middlesex Apprentice Scheme, which started over 50 years ago, is thriving and we continue to invest in our future by supporting our apprentices and local schools.

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Runner up at The Southern Manufacturing Apprentice of the Year Awards 2019

The very best apprentices from engineering and manufacturing companies in the Thames Valley and Solent & South Central region have been recognised at the second annual Southern Manufacturing Apprentice of the Year awards.

Caitlin Smyth of Middlesex Aerospace was one of just seven finalists who were invited to a special presentation at the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) in Coventry. The visit included a tour of its pioneering R&D facility.

Caitlin commented.  What I saw at the MTC was phenomenal. It was so interesting to see all that technology that is in fingertip reach but isn’t yet being widely used. I can see some things that we could use at Middlesex Aerospace, especially on the robotics side in our manufacturing processes. Robotics would mean you could utilise your employees on more productive work and make your manufacturing process second to none. More people should consider apprenticeships – you can’t beat the experience and the knowledge you gain.

Peter Laurie, head of client relations at The Business Magazine, said: “This year we had two categories to encourage smaller businesses to enter. I’d like to thank the judges – with so many very good entries choosing the winners wasn’t an easy task. It’s a great achievement to have been shortlisted and I’m pleased to say we have seven very strong finalists and two worthy winners.”

The judges commented on how they were really impressed by the process improvements Caitlin has been driving, particularly in BSI audits. She encouraged the company to sign up to the Women in Aviation charter and supports other apprentices in the business.

To read the full article visit The Business Magazine 

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Everything to play for

Laurence Foulds Middlesex Aerospace

Managing Director Laurie Foulds features in the June issue of Aerospace Manufacturing for their Final Approach article. 

According to Middlesex Aerospace’s managing director, Laurie Foulds, a continuing boom cycle ensures there is plenty of business to be done out there in the world of aerospace manufacturing.

I’ve been working in the aerospace sector for over thirty years and it’s worth remembering that for most of that time, the industry was in a cycle of boom and bust – it is only in the past decade or so that the bust part of the cycle seems to have vanished. Certainly, the current trade difficulties between China and the US might suggest that the high point of the cycle has been reached.

Even so, there is plenty of business to be done out there in the world. Last year, we placed the largest order ever in our 75-year history for new machine tools. The first was delivered in December and is already full; the second one is ready to be shipped and the final deliveries will all be complete by the end of the year. After that it’s a question of assessing customer needs and judging capacity as a result.

When I first started in aerospace, our competition would usually be our customers own machine shops or a handful of companies, all of which I would probably have been aware of. Today, of course, that is no longer the case and many of our new competitors are now from Asia. That is no surprise and whilst globalisation has caused many problems in the West, it has undeniably lifted millions out of poverty in the developing world, and these people are naturally hungry for the comforts we in the West have grown used to over decades. This is tough competition, but I for one am not afraid of it. The more we automate and improve efficiency, the less it matters what labour cost is, and so we can have a highly paid and skilled workforce and still be internationally competitive.

Certainly, improving productivity of machine tools through automation and more creative use of data is one of our key strategies over the next few years. We have taken on apprentices every year since 1950 and have trained well over a thousand since then, and over half our management board are ex-apprentices. G etting our highly-skilled people to best use all this exciting new technology is the way in which we will use these investments to continue to produce best quality, cost and delivery for customers old and new.

Advanced machining technology, whilst important, isn’t the whole story. Our customers are increasingly looking for partners that can provide a complete turnkey service from product inception through to prototype and finally delivery of an up and running OE programme. We have been working with our customers for many years to hone aspects of the design of products – as we all know, once the drawing is sealed, most of the costs are too – but increasingly, we are supporting additional areas too. In the distant past, all of our customers had their own machine and processing shops, but now many of them don’t, and as a consequence, the knowledge they have in these areas isn’t as great as it once was.

Accordingly, we have deliberately set out to enhance our supply chain management with a view to being able to recommend and ultimately approve sources for special processes, materials and so on. We have carefully selected partners for processing, raw material supply and ‘bought out finished’ support, and we all work together to offer a comprehensive package for complete units. Security of supply is a prime concern for our customers. We can offer dual sourcing of machining, processing, material supply and assembly, so if one facility is affected then the other can support OE build in the meantime until a complete suite of supply is restored.

When my father started in business 75 years ago, he could have had no idea where we would be today. However, there are several aspects of the Middlesex story that are as true today as they were then, and they are our core values of delivering excellence, doing business with integrity, and working to bring out the best in people. We will continue to do that and I look with confidence to an exciting future for us all.

Aerospace Manufacturing June 2019

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Signing up to Women in Aviation and Aerospace Charter

Middlesex Aerospace are proud to have signed up to Women in Aviation and Aerospace Charter

Supporting the importance of working together to build a more balanced and fair industry for women, we have added our name to an impressive and growing list of leading industry signatories.

Committed to supporting the progression of women into senior positions and providing fair opportunities for women to succeed at all levels, Laurie Foulds MD sees this as a positive move and fits the values installed at Middlesex Aerospace.

Middlesex Aerospace is a participant of the UK aerospace supply chain’s productivity and competitiveness programme Sharing in Growth (SiG). Signing at a SiG event they joined 19 other signatories from the programme joining companies such as BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce and Boeing to support the Charter.

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Local sponsorship

Middlesex Aerospace Sponsorship

Middlesex Aerospace are proud to sponsor local youth football team the Hatch Warren Phoenix Fireball Purple and wish them every success!

Mark Martindale, the vice chairman of Hatch Warren Phoenix Football Club commented –
“As a not for profit grassroots football club we’re always grateful for sponsorship to help us ensure football is affordable for all. The rain jackets are very welcome additions to the kids kit. Sincere thanks to Middlesex Aerospace for their generous support.

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Machinery investment for growth

Middlesex Aerospace has committed to a seven-figure investment with long-term machine tool partner, Yamazaki Mazak, to support the continued expansion of the company following an extended period of success.

Middlesex Aerospace is one of Britain’s leading tier-one suppliers of critical components and assemblies to major OEMs throughout the global aerospace market. Currently employing 150 staff, including five apprentices, the new investment will lead to the creation of further roles within Middlesex Aerospace’s machining and assembly department.

Middlesex Aerospace has worked with Mazak for over twenty years and its latest investment comprises of two state-of-the-art 5-axis Multi-Tasking machines, and one horizontal machining centre, complete with an expanded tool storage system.

The new equipment will not only reinforce Middlesex Aerospace’s existing in-house precision machining capabilities, but the increased capacity of the new machines will allow the company to further develop its offering to customers. What’s more, the new machinery will enable Middlesex Aerospace to operate lights-out un-manned manufacturing, 24-hours a day throughout the entire week; dramatically improving production volumes.

Laurence Foulds, Managing Director at Middlesex Aerospace, comments: “Our latest investment in machinery is one of the company’s most significant to date, and will allow us to support a number of new customers and programmes, as we continue to grow the business.

“Mazak has been our long-term machining partner for two decades. The work we undertake for our customers places a great demand on our equipment, and we know that Mazak machine tools – as well as the company’s Applications Engineering team – ensure we are able to deliver the incredibly high levels of accuracy and repeatability mandated by the aerospace sector.”

Alan Mucklow, Managing Director UK and Ireland Sales Division at Yamazaki Mazak, adds: “Middlesex Aerospace is a fantastic example of a British business taking the lead in the global supply chain and delivering exceptional results. After many years of working together, we are delighted to be able to help the company take a step closer towards realising its long-term strategic goals, through the purchase of three new state-of-the-art machining centres.

“The aerospace supply chain is faced with a unique array of application engineering challenges, given the stringent accreditations that govern the industry, and our latest 5-axis and horizontal machining centres are more than capable of working to the tight tolerances required.”

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Investment delivers clear results

As a leading aerospace company we constantly strive to deliver the best solutions to our clients. Our on-going focus remains on reducing lead times, engineering costs and for this project quicker response time to spares and OE (Original Equipment) manufacture.

Investment

Recently we made the decision to invest in Plastic Additive Manufacturing Technology to support both internal and external influences.

Research and testing

With the technology installed our teams successfully designed and manufactured specialist fixtures for a number of applications including part marking, assembly and testing. For particular applications involving heat and oil, we researched and conducted a number of tests using available material within the marketplace to ensure accuracy and consistency, this ensured that we could capture other variables such as the lifespan of material before they breakdown.

Embedding into our processes

Being able to print required fixtures straight from an imported Solidworks model into specialist software enables us to save time and therefore the associated costs for our customers when drawing the parts for tool manufacturers.

Results

The results are clear to see

  • Lead time in procuring fixtures reduced by up to 6-8 weeks.
  • Cost reduced by up to 80% in particular applications.
  • Engineering content (Dimensioning Model) reduced by 50%
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Driving continuous business improvement

At Middlesex Aerospace we are serious about improvement and see a problem as both a challenge and an opportunity to grow. We have introduced one of the key communication tools used in lean environments and the results are clear to see with a positive impact in both communication and response time.

The SQDCP (Safety, Quality, Delivery, Cost & Performance) visual management board.
Middlesex Aerospace’s introduction of SQDCP (Safety, Quality, Delivery, Cost & Performance) boards throughout our key work streams within the factory has demonstrated a positive impact in communication and response time.

The use of the boards enable us to efficiently communicate potential improvement opportunities every morning, have a positive input and involvement from all staff and convey expectations for the day clearly and accurately. The boards are also a focal point for any issues arising that need to be dealt with quickly and effectively throughout the 4 tier structure. This enables us to quickly adapt our operational activities to meet both internal and external drivers.

The SQDCP board is a methodology introduced to us through the SiG (Sharing in Growth) program that quickly conveys how the process is performing against these 5 categories. These KPI’s cover both internal and external measurements that enable us to see the bigger picture in an easy to read format for all staff. The daily meetings last for no more than a short 15 minute interval, before business cell leaders take any feedback to the following tier, this is where information can be passed through the tiers quickly and effectively and if required have a response from senior management.

The implementation of the SQDCP boards has

  • Facilitated involvement from all levels within the business
  • Provided visibility which in turn increases drive to improve KPI’s
  • Improved internal communication
  • Brought flexibility to manage customers’ requirements
  • Developed a culture of continuous improvement now growing throughout the business.
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