On 8th May, the British Prime Minister David Cameron visited Renishaw’s award winning Woodchester manufacturing operation in Gloucestershire, UK, for a tour of the facilities and a question and answer session with employees. Following a private meeting with senior Renishaw directors, the Prime Minister toured the Woodchester site with Sir David McMurtry, Renishaw’s Chairman and Chief Executive, during which he saw the company’s advanced electronic and mechanical assembly processes, met some of Renishaw’s record intake of apprentices and graduates, and received demonstrations of advanced engineering technologies including a metal 3D printing system.
The Prime Minister holds a question and answer session with Renishaw employees
A key part of The Prime Minister’s visit was a 30 minute question and answer session with 300 Renishaw staff, during which he talked about the importance of manufacturing to the UK economy: “While the economy is doing better, we need to manufacture more, we need to invest more, we need to export more, and we need to invest more in science and research and development. From what I have seen at Renishaw you are doing all those things massively for our country. So thank you for what you are doing.”
Mr Cameron also praised Renishaw staff for the important role that they are playing in making Britain a manufacturing, technology and exporting nation: “We want an economy that is more broadly based that can compete and succeed in the world and that is exactly what Renishaw is all about.” He added, “The more Renishaws that we see, the more businesses like this that we see expanding and growing, the better for our country.”
After answering questions on a wide range of topics including the UK’s membership of the EU, the foreign aid budget and the state of the nation’s roads, he concluded by again recognising the outstanding success of the company: “Thank you for all that you are doing here at Renishaw to drive a great industrial revolution and a British revival of manufacturing, technology and exports. It’s a wonder to see.”
The Woodchester facility was named the Best Electronics and Electrical Plant in 2012 at the UK’s Best Factory Awards. At 15 000m2, and with 350 employees working in manufacturing roles at the site, Renishaw’s Woodchester assembly plant is the largest of four assembly facilities within the Renishaw Group, and it operates within an environment of high innovation, constant change and a huge range of saleable parts which are produced in low volumes. The facility includes a full electronics production capability including printed circuit board (PCB) layout, assembly and test.
During his tour The Prime Minister met seven Renishaw apprentices and recent graduates, representing the company’s record 111 apprentices currently in training and a record 2013 intake of 55 graduates. Speaking about the Government’s own commitment to apprenticeships during his visit, Mr Cameron said, “We have trained 1.7 million this Parliament and we hope to get to 2 million because of the great work that companies like you (Renishaw) are doing right here.”
Sir David also introduced The Prime Minister to several of Renishaw’s advanced engineering products including the PH20 measuring probe head for co-ordinate measuring machines (CMMs), a Renishaw AM250 additive manufacturing (metal 3D printing) machine, and a neuromate® stereotactic robot which provides a platform for a range of functional neurosurgical procedures. Sir David was able to tell Mr Cameron that Renishaw has just been issued clearance by the U.S. Food and Drug administration (FDA) to market the neuromate® robotic system in the US, which is the largest global market for medical devices.
Robin Weston, Marketing Manager for Renishaw’s Additive Manufacturing Products Division, gave The Prime Minister an overview of the company’s AM250 machine and also showed him an Empire Cycles MX6-R concept mountain bike with the world’s first 3D printed metal frame. Said Mr Weston, “The Prime Minister had already read about the bike and I was able to explain that the frame and seat post were created by fusing together very thin layers of titanium powder and that the process had reduced weight by a kilo compared to the original aluminium frame.”
Mr Cameron was also shown how a Renishaw additive manufacturing machine was recently used to print metal surgical cutting and positioning guides for pioneering facial reconstructive surgery carried out by Morriston Hospital in Swansea, Wales, on Stephen Power, a victim of a serious motorcycle accident.
Sir David McMurtry said, “In the year that we have been awarded our 17th Queen’s Award, to have a visit from the British Prime Minister gives further recognition to all that our staff globally have achieved through product innovation, high quality manufacturing and strong commercial operations. I sensed a real pride amongst our staff that we were hosting such a senior visitor, and I would like to pay tribute to the hard work that has gone in to making our Woodchester site the world class production facility that it is today and which clearly impressed the Prime Minister.”