At Almond and Multex we always try to promote from within the team and have made various internal promotions in the last 12 months. Carrying on this tradition the board were delighted to promote Michelle Quinn to the position of Managing Director and to promote Steven Wilson to the board in the position of Manufacturing Director.
Michelle joined Almond 15 years ago as a junior straight from school and has risen very rapidly to manager, director and now Managing Director based on ability, sheer hard work and determination. Michelle is very dedicated and focused on improving and growing the business and ensuring we offer the best possible service to our customers. Michelle is passionate about training the next generation of engineers and is a board member at the charity Edeta (an apprentice training organisation for the east of Scotland), a Regional Board Member of Developing Young Workforce West Lothian and in the past a Mentor at Career Ready. Please don’t hesitate to contact Michelle if there is anything we can do to support you.
Steven Wilson returned to Almond last year and has made a considerable impact in reducing delivery times and improving efficiency. Steven has a strong manufacturing background having started his career as a Toolmaker before moving into various industries such as Chemical, Production and Engineering. He brings to Almond great experience of Lean techniques and a real passion for manufacturing. Steven shares Michelle’s passion for excellent customer service and looks forward to working with Michelle to take the company to a new level, so please don’t hesitate to contact him should you have any questions.
During the Covid Pandemic there has been a high demand for PPE, particularly for masks and visors. Almond have been assisting in the design and manufacture of the Provizage visor. Made in the UK, its unique design does not attach to the head, but sits on the chest, protecting the neck and face from liquids. The reusable visor reduces clinical waste and saves organisations money compared to disposable visors.
Like many innovative companies, Provizage were looking for expertise to bring their design to life and test it. Our design teams began by putting together detailed CAD drawings so the inventors could see their product in 3D against a head form. This helped them refine the design to ensure it could be made cost effectively without compromising quality. Our 3D printing team produced prototypes to check that components fitted together well and potential buyers could see the concept.
“Almond Engineering has provided invaluable expertise that made the process of bringing an innovative British design to market very easy. They were responsive, skillful and helpful, supporting us with their in-depth knowledge of engineering and manufacturing. Having prototypes allowed us to refine the design to ensure we did not make expensive mistakes later in production. We brought our visor from paper to market in just 8 weeks and could not have done this without Almond,” says Richard Howarth, Provizage inventor.
Almond’s in house Design Team work on a wide variety of projects including Automation, Design for Manufacture, Reverse Engineering of spare parts, Design of Special Purpose Machines and Design of Safety Guards. We would be delighted to speak with you about any upcoming projects.
Almond Engineering are changing their opening times. Their new official hours of business are 07:45 to 16:15 Monday to Thursday and 07:45 to 12:30 Friday. The reason for the change is that they have implemented a flexitime system for all their staff. Typically, but not guaranteed, members of the Almond team will in the office between 07:00 to 17:00 Monday -Thursday and 07:00 to 15:15 on Friday. However, the official opening times provide the best opportunity to talk to one of Almond’s helpful team and discuss your requirements, as there may not be anyone available outside these official times. We would like to thank everyone for their understanding as we implement this change which not only reflects modern industry practice, but also creates more flexibility and a better work/life balance for our team.
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.
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 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 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or 01506 410880.
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.
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.