Prodrive is set to nearly doubling the size of the workforce at its composites plant in Milton Keynes. The company is actively recruiting now and will take on a further 80 people during 2013, making it one of Europe’s largest composites specialists with close to 200 employed in its manufacturing operations.
The recruitment drive follows the award of significant new business from the automotive, aerospace and defence sectors including the supply of cosmetic and large structural components for a new European supercar and highly specialist applications such as components for a space telescope. Prodrive has already increased the factory’s floor area to more than 32,000 sq ft (3,000 m2) after winning contracts for high quality trim components for three British luxury and sports cars And is now looking to expand its existing facility further.
Composites manager Ian Handscombe explained:
We are making big investments to increase the efficiency of what are, essentially, craft processes but we still need our people to have very high skill levels. Our training programme is based on capturing the skills of the best people in the industry and transferring them to newcomers to our business. Our recruits will have the chance to work alongside some of the world’s foremost experts in producing composite components for super cars and Formula One.
To help increase efficiency, Prodrive is also making substantial investments in process automation and other systems that allow their craftsmen to focus their time on high value-adding activities. Using a new £500,000 five-axis milling machine, it now takes just 20 minutes to trim a large post-mould component that previously took four hours by hand. A new NC (numerically controlled) machine allows automated cutting of thicker pre-preg material (up to 2mm) to reduce the number of layers required.
Other equipment purchases at the Milton Keynes site include two additional high-specification autoclaves, together worth around £1 million. The larger of the two autoclaves will accept parts up to 2m diameter by 4.3m long.