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13th August 2019, Milton Keynes

Dynamic growth at Prodrive

Prodrive produced and delivered in excess of 24,000 components from its three existing autoclaves in 2018 and will increase this to an annual 35,000. © Prodrive

Prodrive produced and delivered in excess of 24,000 components from its three existing autoclaves in 2018 and will increase this to an annual 35,000. © Prodrive

Prodrive Composites, based in Milton Keynes, UK, continues to increase its production capacity through a series of facility and equipment upgrades and forge closer partnerships with its customers to meet the automotive industry’s growing demand for on-time, on-budget high-quality parts.

When complete, these facility enhancements will significantly increase productivity and open up capacity to support large-scale customer programmes. The initiative began in 2018 and the company reports strong and consistent progress towards its goals.

Other areas of business development will stem from the application of natural fibre composite components and the development of the recycling of carbon fibres to support high volume demand and compliance with the End-of-Life Vehicles Directive.

Recent upgrades include:

  • The installation of a Zund automated prepreg cutting machine to support the throughput of raw material and cutting of material kits for laminating. This has doubled the cutting department’s capacity and kits are now being produced well in advance, providing greater efficiency and waste reduction through optimised nesting of complete rolls of materials. The company plans to implement an additional shift to further increase its output.
  • The expansion of Prodrive’s laminating production area by 50% with a dedicated training room where apprentices and trainees can hone their skills through the support of dedicated training providers.
  • A fourth Autoclave allowing up to five additional cure cycles for a further 50 parts to be cured every day. In 2018 Prodrive Composites produced and delivered in excess of 24,000 components from its three existing autoclaves. It is estimated this figure will rise to 35,000 parts per annum as a result of this investment.
  • The transitioning from hand trimming to five-axis CNC machine trimming for large components. This has greatly improved efficiency on batch machining of products as well as operational efficiencies through reduced man-power requirements. One of two CNC machines has been relocated to the Milton Keynes facility and a multi-shift system has dramatically increased productivity.
  • Investment in two in-house 3D printers has reduced the company’s reliance on third party providers for prototype development. This offers greater flexibility in terms of modifications and improvements at no additional cost.

To add further depth and scope to Prodrive’s continuous improvement drive, the SMMT (Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders) is independently assessing the company’s overall performance. This includes all aspects of client interaction, including customer support, reaction times and engagement.

“We have secured a new long-term contract with one of our customers on an existing platform as they look to onshore,” said Matt Bradney, director of business development at Prodrive Composites. “Further discussions are taking place with other organisations along similar lines. All of these are large users of carbon fibre components but in very different application levels and market segments. They have been in the past and continue to be let down by their overseas supply chain. The current state of the exchange rates in the Eurozone and the US dollar means a UK supply route is becoming increasingly attractive. By investing in these machine upgrades and improving efficiencies at our Milton Keynes facility we are perfectly positioned to respond and deliver.”

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