A delegation from the Institute of Sheet Metal Engineering recently visited KMF (Precision Sheet Metal) to gain an insight into the success of one of the UK's leading sub-contract sheet metal fabrication companies.
The ISME delegation, a diverse mix of industrial and academic members of the Institute, from organisations including GSM, Firmin, Trumpf, Radshape, Loughborough University and the Confederation of British Metalforming, was welcomed to KMF by Managing Director Gareth Higgins.
The initial presentations took place in KMF's state-of-the-art training school, which the company uses for classroom work for its apprentices as well as providing a venue for general staff training.
The investment in the training centre is a positive reaction to an ageing workforce and the desire by KMF to train a sufficient number of trainees to the skill levels that it requires.
When they have finished their training KMF's apprentices have many career options, with some choosing to work in production and others taking on management roles. They all have the opportunity to extend their learning, with foundation degree courses funded by the company.
KMF has developed strong working links with local schools, where they encourage teachers and students to gain a better understanding of what modern engineering manufacturing is about.
It achieves this through factory visits, the creation of its own KMF Young Engineer of the Year Awards and support for schools in national engineering competitions.
The delegation was then taken on a factory tour with apprentices as their guides, answering all the questions put to them.
The tour included visits to the new laser processing cell, which is just part of the company's strategic growth plan which has also seen KMF open an additional manufacturing facility in Slovakia.
In addition to laser processing, KMF also has a highly automated facility that includes Trumpf CNC Punch presses, all with automated sheet loaders, press brakes and panel bending all of which are complemented by a paint plant.
The delegation also toured KMF Advanced Solutions, a separate building in which the company handles work for aerospace, medical and other high-tech industry sectors.
"Having visited KMF on a number of occasions I am never disappointed with the level of technology and investment that is being implemented on-site," said Adrian Nicklin, ISME Events co-ordinator.
"In my opinion, I have not visited a better sheet metal manufacturing facility in the UK. The management of the entire manufacturing process is very efficient, and everything is under control, and things just seem to happen, without any undue haste."
"As a company, KMF is not unusual in having the latest laser technology, but not every business can manage the process like KMF, and with its focus on apprentice training the future looks very good."