Babcock is ensuring that it creates the best environment and provides the right tools for its people to do their job, as demonstrated by the company’s Bristol facilities, where it develops specialist systems and complex equipment for a variety of industries and applications.
Here, further investment has been made in its training facilities, with input from Burlescombe-based XYZ Machine Tools (www.xyzmachinetools.com
This investment, which is part of an on-going programme designed to strengthen Babcock’s manufacturing capabilities with the upgrade of the company’s on-site apprentice-training facilities, has seen the installation of new manual and CNC machine tools, as well as the latest metrology equipment.
The training centre currently has six first-year apprentices (there are a total of 30 apprentices on-site). In September, the apprentice intake will increase to nine, all of whom will go through a rigorous selection process.
Tim Jacobs, Babcock’s apprentice training manager, said: “We have traditionally taught production skills on manual machine tools. A number of our senior management team are ex-apprentices and very much value the mechanical training that we deliver.
“With the new first-year NVQ units containing a CNC requirement, the time was right to upgrade our equipment. The investment in the XYZ mills and lathes, along with a general make-over of the facility, means we are much better placed to deliver the required training.
“Prior to making this investment, we undertook an extensive procurement exercise and decided that the package offered by XYZ Machine Tools best suited our requirements.”
Mix of machines
The investment saw the addition of seven XYZ machines to the training area. These comprised a mix of manual and CNC machines, including a number of turret mills and lathes featuring XYZ’s ProtoTrak control.
Mr Jacobs said: “Installing these machines has introduced greater levels of flexibility and capability. We can now deliver the Performing Engineering Operations NVQ 2 in the first year of training.
“After that, apprentices and higher apprentices move on to specific departmental roles in machining, fitting, assembly or project management.”
In addition to more-traditional apprentice training, this facility also allows Babcock’s graduates to be spend time on the machines giving degree students an appreciation of manufacturing processes.
The 12-week placement in the production training facility also provides an insight into applying manufacturing techniques.
With its ease of use, the XYZ ProtoTrak control delivers on Babcock’s requirements, making the transition from manual to CNC straightforward, while also leading the user through cutting cycles and cutter compensation.
The ProtoTrak mills are set up with a two-axis option, with no powered Z axis; this set-up allows apprentices and graduates to gain good experience in machining using both manual and CNC operation.
Highlighting the simplicity of the conversational programming systems, Mr Jacobs said: “The XYZ ProtoTrak control is very straightforward to use, and we always have the assurance that we can call on XYZ with any questions that we may have — whether on programming or simply getting the best out of the machines.
“Moreover, every XYZ CNC machine comes with free training and a free programming help-line to assist with any on-going questions that customers may have.”