Not breaking stride

Uploaded 10 Nov @ 10:25am

Just as with nearly all other organisations up and down the country, Frewer Engineering had to adapt quickly to tackle the challenges imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The fact that it was able to do so efficiently and seamlessly is a testament to the culture, flexibility and resourcefulness of the multi-disciplined workforce engaged with numerous large-scale design and analysis projects for clients in the aerospace, defence and marine sectors.
The sudden restrictions imposed by the UK Government in March for enforced remote working ultimately had remarkably little impact on Frewer’s work programmes - the company hardly breaking stride with its commitment to deliver projects to critical deadlines. As Matthew Jeffreys, Head of the Advanced Composites Division explains: “With excellent and well-tested Cyber-secure VPN connections back to the office, our 25-man-plus staff of engineers and analysists were quickly up-and-running and up to speed working from home. Projects continued as normal and none of our deadlines were forced to the right to cater for the new remote-working challenges.”
Frewer’s fully integrated Divisions; Advanced Engineering, Advanced Analysis/CFD and Advanced Composites, are frequently required to work together ‘hand-in-glove’, calling on different resource skill-sets to combine forces as they provide complete solutions for any given project. Without face-to-face interaction possible, it was a case of having to find the best virtual solution for effective remote-working communication. Within a few days of lockdown Microsoft Teams was determined as being perfect for the requirement. Matthew Jeffreys again: “We adopted Microsoft Teams and immediately found it useful for our needs for both oral and written communications between all staff members. However, in our line of work, we are always mindful of security concerns, so as a rule we don’t talk or write about sensitive subjects online. Security is very important for many of our clients so it was timely to receive our accreditation for ‘Cyber Essentials Certified Plus’ not long after lockdown.”

Reaching for the skies
October 2020 has seen a milestone event for Frewer’s Advanced Composites Division with the successful installation and running of an experimental carbon-epoxy composite aero engine Airmeter at the customer’s test facilities in Germany. Ten months in the making, from design and analysis to installation, the nearly 2 m diameter structure has required many specialist skill-sets from the Frewer team, which used its extensive composites knowledge to incorporate a number of innovative design features: First, detailed composite FEA was required to meet critical stiffness requirements, then new concepts for bonding-in and retaining critical sensor mounting inserts had to be developed to meet a very close-tolerance technical specification.
Speaking about the project, Matthew Jeffreys says: “This project presented a number of technical challenges that required new concepts to be developed to meet very precise performance criteria. We were absolutely delighted with the end result and especially with the customer’s reaction when it was completed. It’s always very rewarding when a customer takes the trouble to thank us for a job well-done and for our professional approach. We’re delighted to have received such praise for this project which, from the start, has been a thoroughly enjoyable experience working with both the end-user and our UK-based manufacturing partner, North West Aerotooling.”
Although 2020 has proved more than challenging for both Frewer Engineering and its customers, work has continued unabated for all its Divisions. The defence sector remains largely unaffected of course but the company was relieved to see its aerospace customers keeping their eye firmly on a post-Covid world. To that end, long term aerospace pylon and hot-rig projects continue to be a significant part of the Frewer Advanced Engineering Division’s day to day activities.
Working for a long-time aero engine customer based in Germany, the Advanced Engineering Division is currently designing a new larger combustion test facility for future aircraft engines to make these engines cleaner and more efficient. The Division is also working on a next-generation engine-to-wing pylon which plays exactly into its well-respected specialist capabilities and skill-sets. Advanced Engineering’s Divisional Head, Simon Apsley, says: “The pylon provides all the services to the engine and also simulates the stiffness of the wing, allowing each element of the structure to be tested from take-off to cruise conditions to ensure the engine behaves as intended. We are working very closely with the Advanced Composites Division here at Frewer too, who are designing the external composite panels. The result will be a fully integrated solution.”

Patrolling the oceans
For one particular marine defence customer, 2020 has seen Frewer Engineering put even more emphasis on finding an optimum stiffness, strength and weight solution for a family of performance-critical submarine masts. The 5 m long (plus) structures require optimised laminate stacks in both carbon and glass prepreg composites to meet challenging load-deflection specifications. They must also achieve a total weight limit set within a narrow margin, be practical to make and be acceptable to a pre-allocated manufacturing budget. Throw into the mix a new manufacturing partner and you have several plates spinning on poles that cannot be allowed to fall.
The masts project has also provided another opportunity for inter-Divisional co-operation as the customer is also interested in the CFD analysis of the hydro-dynamic flow around the structures. Summing up the project Matthew Jeffreys explains: “This particular project shows exactly why our customers choose Frewer Engineering: experience, skill-sets and seamless interaction between our specialist Divisions offers them a unique
one-stop-shop, where experts in their respective fields of CFD, composites and design can all contribute to a holistic and integrated solution through agile and cost-effective working.”

Further reading: www.frewer-engineering.com

 

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