Multex’s New BDM

Mark McLachlan has joined Multex as their new Business Development Manager. Mark joins Multex with an extensive track record in the electronics industry. He began his career as a Test Engineer before moving to a service role and then into the design and manufacturing of advanced electronic equipment. This breadth of experience means Mark is well able to understand the needs of our customers and provide genuine support.

“Mark joins us this month from an advanced scientific Instrument manufacturer. He is a great addition to the team, bringing further technical knowledge and practical skills to our customer facing operations. These will be very valuable in ensuring we fully understand our customer’s requirements and therefore offer the most effective solution. I’m delighted to welcome him to Multex,” said Chris Smith, Multex Managing Director.

Mark will be calling and visiting Multex Customers to introduce himself and discuss their test requirements in current and new applications. “I’m looking forward to meeting current Multex customers and attracting new ones to this progressive test fixture design company. I believe it’s important to understand customer’s applications and their test requirements to deliver fixtures that are reliable and cost-effective. With over 30 years’ experience assisting customers in the electronics market, I’m keen to support Multex ethos of great customer service backed by good technical knowledge and understanding,” said Mark.

Expect a call from Mark to discuss how we can assist you in your next testing application.

Tackling the Engineering Skills Shortage

It’s widely recognised across the engineering sector that there has been a skills shortage that has been continuing to grow over the last five years. Last Year the Government declared 2018 as the ‘Year of Engineering’ in an effort to promote the sector and highlight the problem, but more needs to be done at grass roots levels to address the sizable skill shortage that continues to grow.

When children begin to think about the jobs they would like to do when they grow up, they might want to be train drivers, but they rarely want to build trains. Today, most want to be DJs or TV presenters or Vloggers. The interest in STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Maths) is relatively low and it’s not just in the UK. In the European Union (EU), there are a number of countries reporting various bottlenecks in different engineering fields. Employers have had long term problems finding and hiring staff and see no change in the future.

So how big is the problem? “It’s a constant issue for us as a growing company and we know it’s sector wide. Engineering UK puts the annual shortfall of graduate engineers at 20,000 I believe that’s a conservative estimate. A government study suggests 186,000 skilled recruits are required each year until 2024 to reduce the skills shortage. That’s over 1 million people,” reflects Chris Smith, Almond Engineering, Managing Director.

In the short term, placing more people in engineering apprenticeships is the first step in addressing the balance. “We need people with the right engineering orientated skills and while we will look at engineering graduates there is real benefit in developing our staff on the shop floor while arming them with the theoretical skills and practical training at college,” says Chris.

Almond Engineering recruit their apprentices with the help of EDETA (Edinburgh and District Employers’ Training Association). “We are seeing a growing trend towards people considering an apprenticeship rather than heading to University. The ability to get industry experience, develop within a company and acquire college training to build skill sets has an appeal. University fees and the prospect of student debt is also playing a part in making apprenticeships desirable,” says Brian Thorpe, EDETA Chief Executive Officer. “We are working closely with employers and colleges to ensure that training meets industry need and that colleges deliver strong practical and theoretical courses that build the skill sets needed from Modern Apprenticeships in Engineering.”

“It’s important that engineering companies have access to well-trained new recruits with the current skill sets needed and we find apprenticeships play a key part in providing this. A recent report by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) suggested that that up to 62 per cent of engineering employers say that graduates do not have the right skills. They say that young graduates are bombarded with random, theoretical skills, instead of giving them more time for training opportunities and working schemes within the industry. I think this is unfair comment and we find both apprenticeships and university graduates provide different skills and knowledge both much needed in engineering. In my experience, people who have completed engineering apprenticeships are highly skilled professionals and can build a career to anything. Many large companies are run by people who started their careers as apprentices. Graduates are at the start of their engineering career, need industrial experience generally, but fill a vital role in engineering and again are well placed to build a great career. Many of the top 10 Forbes companies are run by engineering graduates. While access to engineering talent is part of the engineering shortage problem, I also think more needs to be done to make engineering a choice career for young people,” suggests Chris.

While government initiatives such as the Apprenticeship levy help new people of employable age into the engineering sector, a long term solution is to make engineering careers attractive to children in schools. Ann Watson, Chief Executive of Semta is championing activities in schools to make engineering a desirable career for boys and girls. “It’s not just about work placements, we need to be starting much earlier. It’s even more important that at school they are not receiving negative messages about the sector. We need children of primary-school age to be given the opportunity to see what a modern cutting-edge engineering workplace looks like. So many young people who have an engineering skill and aptitude are lost to the sector because they’re not given that encouragement earlier.” says Ann.

“Almond believes this is important and we visit local schools to talk about the engineering industry with teachers and pupils to bust common myths about the sector. It’s important that the people who influence children’s career aspirations understand how prestigious and rewarding an engineering career can be. They are surprised to learn precision engineering is highly technical and how clean the working environment is,” reports Chris.

Much is being done to address the skills shortage crisis engineering is experiencing. A freely available diversity packs from Semta provides approaches and support for employers attract girls into the sector. Local training providers such as EDETA continue to refine apprenticeships to meet sector demand and the government has introduced measures to help finance recruitment in the sector. Plugging the skills gap is going to be a long process, but there is hope. Recognising the engineering crisis in the UK is the first step towards solving it.

Building for the future

In our last newsletter we discussed the skills shortage our industry is facing. Almond continues to expand and is meeting the skills shortage challenges to invest in our future by training a strong team. We have developed close links with Deans Community High school. This was originally founded on their F1 challenge adventures. This year we participated in their Enterprise day. We mentored teams of 6 students working on a project to invent, design and develop a board game.

“We believe that working closely with schools helps to stimulate their interest in engineering, gives them a sense of working in an engineering company and illustrates the potential careers in engineering. Success is simple. When a child says ‘I want to be an engineer when I grow up’ we know we have knocked the nail in,” says Michelle Quinn, Director.

Almond is also working with students who are approaching school leaving age. This Summer, four pupils will join us from various schools across the region to get a taste of precision engineering on the shop floor. They will leave us with genuine work experience and a desire to explore the many routes to qualify as an engineer.

For pupils who are leaving school we have two opportunities to become Almond Engineering Apprentices this Summer. Our successful work in schools has generated 127 applications for these two positions, so we are proud to be stimulating interest in both the roles and the desire to work for us.

We are also supporting the graduate route to engineering and have sponsored an internship for a mechanical Engineering studying at Glasgow Caledonian University.

“It is good to see interest in engineering growing as young people begin to understand how exciting it can be. This will be a great Summer working with a range of pupils, apprentices and undergraduates developing their skills and passion for engineering,” concludes Michelle.

Willie Scott retires

Willie is one of the founder members of Almond Engineering having been with the company since day one in 1979. Starting on the tools as a ‘fresh-faced young Laddie’, Willie progressed to Director, then Managing Director and eventually owner before selling the business in 2008. Willie has been a massive presence at Almond for 40 years and has been one of the main drivers of our success. It’s fair to say if you know Almond, you know Willie.

We could write a book on Willie’s contribution to Almond and to our customers, but suffice to say we will all miss working with Willie on a daily basis. Willie will retire on the 28th June. Fortunately, he intends to stay in touch, returning from time to time to share his immense knowledge and help with interesting projects.

We have been planning for this day for some years now and we have built a very strong team who Willie has been mentoring and teaching the Almond way. Please don’t hesitate to contact Chris Smith (MD), Michelle Quinn (Director), John Gilmour (Sales and Estimating Manager), Steven Wilson (Technical Manager) or Grant Cameron (Design manager) should we be able to help with anything.

Almond buys Multex engineering business

Almond Engineering Limited is delighted to announce that we have acquired the Trade and Assets of Multex Limited’s Engineering business.

Established in 1991, Multex is a high quality engineering company which designs and manufactures test equipment for electronic circuit boards. With a strong reputation, and a wide customer base across the UK and internationally, Multex has many synergies with Almond. There are a number of customers that already purchase from both Almond Engineering and Multex, now they can enjoy the same high quality and customer service from one integrated business. We are looking forward to offering new products and services to customers of both companies.

A further benefit for customers is the additional Multex CNC and manual machining facilities that complement those at Almond, giving both businesses increased capacity and flexibility. The Multex factory increases our available factory floor space and those of you who have visited Almond recently will know how welcome that is. Importantly, the team at Multex will bring valuable electrical and programming skills to Almond. In short, we believe that this acquisition strengthens both Almond and Multex and will assist us in delivering first class service and a greater product range.

We are also delighted to confirm the acquisition does not involve any loss of jobs, in fact, it has helped us create an additional skilled job already and we anticipate more will follow as we build on the great success Multex has always enjoyed.

Multex will become a division of Almond Engineering and will continue to trade using the Multex brand under Almond Engineering Limited. Over the coming months we will combine the two websites, with a new look and feel. We’ll send you an invitation to visit them once they are completed. In the meantime should you have any questions or want to request a quote please contact Chris Smith on chris@almond.co.uk or 01506 410880.

multex.co.uk

Brexit: Almond’s message to politicians

Almond Engineering’s Managing Director tells government to “Grow up and stop playing politics” in relation to Brexit as UK businesses lose patience with no deal scenarios and constant delays.

Machining Capability increases at Almond

Almond continues to invest in the latest technology to ensure their precision engineering capabilities are state of the art. The latest two new machines to join the growing arsenal at Almond’s disposal is a Hurco 3 axis machining centre and a Mazak compact Quick Turn mill/turn machine. These have been commissioned this month complementing the recent installation of the four and five axis machining capacity and the large bed machining centre.

“Almond continues to grow and it is important that our machining capacity grows at a corresponding rate. This ensures that we continue to deliver, meeting our customers’ lead times without compromising on quality. It also strengthens our resilience by ensuring every high performance machine has a duplicate, so production continues when we have a machine down for maintenance,” says Chris Smith, Managing Director.

The latest Hurco 3 Axis vertical machining further increases Almond’s capacity and is part of their continual focus on reducing lead times and serving their customers better. Almond has standardised on Hurco machines simplifying training and ensuring that existing NC programmes are fully compatible with new machines.

The new Mazak Quick Turn 300MY lathe with live tooling is a further addition to Almond’s turning capacity, bringing high precision with a small footprint. The 12″ chuck and 1m bed compliment perfectly their existing Mazak mill/turn machine and will help them drive further productivity gains.

Almond’s investment in machines and staff are part of their long term growth strategy to continue to meet the precision engineering requirements of their expanding range of customers. “We are customer centric and focussed on ensuring we deliver to time and budget. It is important that our customers can rely on us and we are committed to delivering a first class service. Our continued investment in quality equipment and staff is testimony to this,” reflects Chris.

Almond Engineering comes Highly Commended

Almond Engineering received a Highly Commended award in this year’s West Lothian Chambers Business Excellence Awards. In the hotly contended Best Business category, that celebrates local businesses which have demonstrated continued true excellence, Almond Engineering’s Willie Scott collected the Highly Commended award from Ashwood Scotland’s Managing Director Archie Meikle, who sponsored the award.

“I was proud to collect this award on behalf of the entire team at Almond Engineering who continue to work with dedication, skill and enthusiasm to produce precision engineered components across a wide range of sectors. Our continued expansion and increasing levels of customer satisfaction are all testimony to our ethos of continuous improvement and customer focus that drives our commitment to business excellence,” commented Willie.

Willie Scott collected the Best Business Highly Commended award at the West Lothian Chamber’s Gala Black Tie awards ceremony where Michelle Quinn, Almond Engineering’s youngest Director, also scooped the Shona Sibbald Woman in Business Award. See all the winners of the West Lothian Chamber Business Excellence Awards here: https://bit.ly/2VEUUew

Michelle Quinn wins Business Award

Michelle Quinn, Almond Engineering’s most recent Director, has been awarded the Shona Sibbald Woman in Business Award. The award recognises the hard work and achievements of women across West Lothian. Michelle collected the award at West Lothian Chamber of Commerce’s Business Excellence awards presentation ceremony. It celebrates Michelle’s hard work, dedication, and achievements, joining Almond Engineering in 2005 as an office junior to becoming the company’s youngest and first female Director in 2018.

Michelle Quinn collected her award at a black-tie gala celebration of business success in the region. “I am proud to have received this prestigious award from West Lothian Chamber of Commerce. I am looking forward to continuing to champion women in business across the region and promote the many business opportunities for girls across West Lothian, particularly in engineering a profession I am passionate about,” said Michelle.

Michelle was chosen to receive the award by a judging panel made up of members of the Sibbald Family. “The Shona Sibbald Woman in Business award, supported by the Sibbald family, was set up to recognise a successful business woman who not only demonstrates strong leadership but has also shown an outstanding contribution to the local economy. We chose Michelle Quinn as this year’s recipient as she has demonstrated what hard work in her chosen profession can achieve. We were impressed with her rise through Almond Engineering culminating in her recent appointment to the board. We wish her continued success into the future,” said David Sibbald, Managing Director, Sibbald Ltd.

Linda Scott, Chief Executive of West Lothian Chamber of Commerce said: “I would like to congratulate Michelle on winning the Woman in Business award in the Chamber’s Business Excellence Awards. These awards recognise the outstanding contribution businesses make to the local economy and the people within them that drive them forward. It is so more important to have more women leaders particularly in the STEM industry’s as it encourages our future female leaders. Awards like this showcase the amazing talent we have out there, and I was also pleased to see Almond Engineering awarded highly commended in the Best Business category.”

Michelle was presented with her award by Eugene McGuire, Shona Sibbald’s brother on behalf of the Sibbald family.

See all the winners of the West Lothian Chamber Business Excellence Awards here: https://bit.ly/2VEUUew

New Apprentice Darren Jamieson

Almond Engineering continues to invest in local engineering talent. We are proud to introduce Darren Jamieson, our latest apprentice. He will be studying at Edinburgh College while gaining extensive practical precision engineering experience with our state of the art machinery. “I’m looking forward to building my career at Almond,” said Darren.

Investing in a talented workforce not only for today, but the future, is one of Almond Engineering’s key objectives. “We are a strong local employer and want to see more young people taking up the opportunities in engineering we have available as we continue to expand. “I’m pleased to welcome Darren as our latest apprentice and look forward to seeing his skills base and career grow at Almond,” said Michelle Quinn, Director.

Michelle has worked closely with Developing the Young Workforce (DYW) West Lothian providing insight and opportunities to work in engineering from a young female perspective. “I’m very keen to continue working closely with DYW West Lothian, highlighting practical ways for young people to develop their careers and gain real life experience in the workplace. Hard work, dedication and ambition will get you where you want to go and I’m keen to show young people that’s possible in engineering,” said Michelle.

Darren seized the opportunity to take up a 4 year apprenticeship at Almond combining engineering studies with practical skills on the shop floor from programming CNC machines to welding and turning pieces. “The apprenticeship is a great way of getting into engineering as it builds practical skills combined with real work experience, and importantly, a job at the end of it in a great company,” reflects Darren.