Boosting the future rail supply chain

08 January 2018


In late 2017, TBM joined around 90 manufacturers and suppliers who hope to play a part in fuelling the growth of British industry on a global stage – much of it driven by the expansion of the rail sector in this country.

At a Siemens-organised event, a superb day was spent at the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) located at Ansty Park, Coventry. Established in 2010, it’s a research and development facility that aims to bridge the gap between academia and industry. In recent years, the impressive campus has grown to include manufacturing management and factory design options. There are now over 500 talented employees based there, all reaching out to UK industry offering assistance on many levels.

If a small/medium engineering business needs help growing, planning, developing and delivering new products and services – this is the place to be. Siemens is one of the MTC partners, enabling supplier companies to offer more comprehensive ranges of products – conceived, developed and manufactured here in the UK.

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TBM’s visit began with an impressive presentation about future projects that Siemens are involved with, particularly UK train orders across the next decade. We also learned how they work on a daily basis, servicing existing fleets at depots all over the country. Senior figures then outlined how there’s an ambition to promote the manufacturing of parts and servicing of trains here in UK. That’s great news for TBM and countless other suppliers.

The long-term goal is establish sufficient partnerships within the UK supply chain so that forthcoming and future projects (such as HS2) can involve companies across Britain. Organisations across Europe (and the rest of the world) will still be involved, but it is hoped that a high percentage of parts will be supplied by UK-based rail firms. This will have knock-on effects for the economy, with upgrades, repairs and ongoing servicing contracts for British companies.

The afternoon involved a visit to the incredible MTC facility. It’s a jaw-dropping experience, seeing first-hand the new technologies available to take prototypes into mass production, training engineers of the future, and helping to streamline the operations of factories that need expertise and economies of scale to be more competitive on the global stage.

What this means for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) like TBM is exciting opportunities to bid for larger contracts across the UK rail network, especially working in partnership with other providers. Alongside the teams at Ansty Park, firms will be able to transform innovative ideas into manufacture-ready products.

There’s so much more to the MTC. They are producing work-ready apprentices, helping businesses improve their performance, and you can even host conferences and events there. The TBM delegation came away very positive and confident that the UK is set to play a significant role in the evolution of railways around the world. There are exciting times ahead…

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