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October 2005 edition

It's not all plane sailing! The birth of a joint venture engineering company

By Phil Sholl and Stuart Wilson

A new UK based company was formed recently in response to customer demand for a 'one stop shop' tooling and automation provider to the aero-structure manufacturing sector. Following the success of a number of collaborative projects over the past ten years, Hyde Group and AMTRI decided to launch the joint-venture. Phil Sholl and Stuart Wilson, respective managing directors of the two founding companies, explain how and why the company was created.

The marketplace for suppliers to the principal aero-structure manufacturers is changing rapidly. Time to market, increasing build rates, cost and quality assurance are the prime factors driving all the large aero-structure makers to move from traditional craft based assembly in dedicated hard tooling jigs towards more agile and flexible solutions with higher levels of automation.

This is not just a development affecting the UK and US, it is happening globally. The worldwide outsourcing of components by the 'big two' - Airbus and Boeing - continues to develop through subcontract and supply chain partnerships. Even if labour costs are lower elsewhere in the world, the pressure of the prime drivers on the aero-structures business still remains. In another sector, automotive manufacturers with their high volume products have for many years embraced the benefits of automation. Despite massively lower build rates (Airbus for example shipped 320 planes in 2004) airframe manufacturers are increasingly ....

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