Customer issue

WH Tildesley is the leading UK manufacturer of drop forgings and produces small and medium batches of safety critical parts.

The AFRC initially worked with the firm on a successful consultancy project, which solved a production problem on one of its forged components and saved a vital contract worth around £2.5M.

Recognising the potential in continuing to work with us, a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) bid was put forward and secured with Innovate UK.

The aim of the project was to embed advanced forging, materials engineering and simulation expertise within the company, allowing it to exploit high-value opportunities within the oil and gas and aerospace sectors.

A key objective was to implement a knowledge management system (KMS) to support the company’s diverse and ambitious product range, which increases by up to five new products each month.

This new system would help the firm make informed decisions prior to forging new shapes or using materials that it has never forged before. Containing a combination of forging knowledge and information based on past forging experiences, it would help with choosing materials and production methods.

How did the AFRC help?

We provided supervision of the KTP associate, Nthambe Singo, who worked on the two-year project.

As a world leading innovation centre we were able to provide a broad range of expertise, including our materials and metallurgy knowledge plus modelling and simulation advice.

Expertise in implementing a new KMS was provided by the University of Strathclyde’s prestigious department of Design Manufacture and Engineering Management (DMEM).

Business impact

This valuable combination of expertise and training empowered employees at WH Tildesley to solve one of its critical production issues, enabling it to retain its most important oil and gas customer.

The scientific and methodical approach undertaken during the project has also been adopted company wide.

It has implemented a process of new product introduction (NPI) for manufacturing a wide range of components for key sectors, including oil and gas.

A KMS containing newly generated information and process knowledge from experienced staff has also been created. This supports the company’s innovative culture and readiness to forge new products.

A consequent reduction in risk and cost in day-to-day operations has provided an increased competitive advantage, while manufacturing processes and management of subsequent heat-treatments have also improved.

This project was awarded the highest merit of ‘outstanding’ by the KTP grading panel and has demonstrated that the KTP model can provide huge benefits for a forward thinking UK manufacturing company.