Almost ten years ago, JCB Chief Executive Officer Lord Anthony Bamford had a vision for educating the next generation of engineers. This inspirational spark led to the globally renowned yellow goods manufacturer establishing The JCB Academy in 2010.
Recognized as the first of a brand new kind of school in the UK, The JCB Academy has a core focus on delivering high-quality engineering and business education. To ensure education is vocationally suitable for future generations of engineers, The JCB Academy is supported by metrology experts Mitutoyo.
Learners at The JCB Academy commence studies from Year 9 (13 years old) and undertake the full educational curriculum of GSCE and A-level subjects through to foundation degrees, studying to full business hours with additional engineering and business disciplines being part of The JCB Academy ethos. The growth of the academy since its inception has seen school aged learner numbers increase to over 400.
In 2013, the academy expanded its scope, opening the doors to accept its first intake of apprentices. Since 2013, apprentice numbers have grown from an annual intake of 40 to over 140 apprentices in 2017. Apprenticeships at the academy are available in welding & fabrication, engineering and business operations. To accommodate this growth, Lord Bamford opened a £1.2m apprentice training centre in 2017, housed in the former Dove First School, a stone-throw away from The JCB Academy. This state-of-the-art facility in the re-furbished school incorporates a metrology department that is fully supported by Mitutoyo and is now recognized as a Mitutoyo Satellite Centre.
Sponsored by JCB, the academy has core challenge partners that include Bentley Motors, Network Rail and Rolls Royce. Each of these companies contributes to developing the unique curriculum and learning techniques. To deliver the curriculum, the JCB Academy has employed academic specialists with an established industrial background. Pivotal to the installation of Mitutoyo metrology and inspection equipment was Mr. Graham Rowley, the Team Leader for Technical Delivery.
With over 24 years industrial experience prior to working in academia, Mr Rowley says: “JCB realized that to develop the engineers of tomorrow, the company needed a state-of-the-art training facility with experienced staff and cutting edge technology. I was personally tasked with identifying the inspection equipment that would best serve our learners and prepare them for a future in engineering. It was recognized that inspection and metrology are core subjects for all engineering disciplines, so we set about configuring a metrology department that would be both suitable for our learners and relevant for industry.”
Mitutoyo measures-up for apprentices “Mitutoyo is a brand that has struck a chord with me personally. As an apprentice in 1979, I recall how we used to specify Mitutoyo micrometers as they were the first manufacturer of high-quality carbide tipped micrometers. Back then, the quality of Mitutoyo precision instruments stood above all else. Through my working life, Mitutoyo has always played a large role in the metrology equipment used; always delivering precise and reliable equipment with service and support that has always been first class. All this still rings true today.”
Regaling this memory of Mitutoyo, Mr. Rowley continues: “We went to a number of suppliers for quotes and Mitutoyo stood out for a number of reasons. Firstly, Mitutoyo were more engaged with our needs. What they initially spoke to us about was somewhat different to our requirements. They suggested that if we bought a slightly different area of kit, we could deliver this new stand-alone metrology department. We altered our order accordingly and went with Mitutoyo’s suggestions. We are now going to be one of Mitutoyo’s satellite centres.”
Mitutoyo fully embraces vocational training needs Another reason for opting to work with Mitutoyo was their approach and willingness to work with the education sector. “Mitutoyo gave us a really good discount on the package and this wasn’t to win our business, but more to build its already well established support of the education sector and the training of apprentices. Additionally, by following the recommendations from Mitutoyo we can do everything necessary with our learners. We can provide and develop block training such as short or long course modules that are suitable for the training needs of our partner companies and core challenge partners.”
The metrology department now allows The JCB Academy to deliver this tailored metrology and inspection training resource to all the companies it provides apprentice training for. So, whether its apprentices from JCB, Continental Tyres, Toyota, Michelen, Bosch Rexroth, Bri-Stor System, Alpha Manufacturing, Rolls- Royce or any other company in the region, The JCB Academy delivers unique, relevant, captivating and accredited inspection training that encompasses both practical and theoretical studies that are above-all, relevant to industry.
The training kits:
“We had a set of requirements that we discussed with Mitutoyo and they told us that our specifications were very similar to their training kits. In fact, the Mitutoyo Student Kits and Tutor Kits allow us to deliver in-house training and also on site training with our partners. With the kits, we can take the main bulk of equipment with small tools to our on-site or off-site learners and they can learn what equipment to use for the specific measurement tasks they have to undertake. With learners understanding the choices of tools available, they can reduce time wasting in the field and ensure inspection is conducted correctly,” continues Mr Rowley.
The Student Kits include a 0-25mm micrometer, a 0-25mm digital micrometer, three 0-150mm vernier calipers that include a vernier scale caliper, a dial caliper and a digital caliper. Also included in the Student Kit is a 150mm rule and an aluminum test piece. In contrast, the two Tutor Kits supplied cover more diverse spectrum of inspection and calibration equipment. One Tutor Kit includes three 200mm vernier scale height gauges, three universal bevel protractors, a gauge block set and centre finders. The second Tutor Kit has three digital height gauges, two DTI’s, a 3-4 inch digital micrometer, an 8 to 10cm internal bore micrometer and six test pieces.
Both the Student Kits and Tutor Kits are supplied in protective carry-cases that eliminate the potential for damage during transportation. The JCB Academy has four student carry-cases and two tutor cases; each student case is filled with six individual Student Kits. These well presented kits are far removed from the small selection of micrometers, feeler gauges and vernier calipers that were previously used by learners at the academy.
The centrepiece of the metrology department at The JCB Academy is a CRYSTA-Plus M443 Coordinate Measuring Machine (CMM) that is connected to a 60 inch wall mounted monitor. The manual CRYSTA Plus CMM with temperature compensation offers The JCB Academy everything from simple dimensional to complex form measurement on a small footprint 400 by 400mm table. Utilizing the very latest MCOSMOS CMM software, learners can evaluate the dimensional precision of components and test-pieces. By connecting the CMM to a large monitor, teaching staff can conduct practical demonstrations to learners in the classroom environment.
Looking to the future:
The vision of Lord Bamford is certainly starting to pay dividends for the future of UK manufacturing and in particular the future of JCB. As Mr. Rowley states: “As a company; JCB has thousands of employees and there is natural staff wastage of approximately 350 people every year through retirement and other factors. The academy is now generating future recruits whilst giving the prospective employees a strong grounding in engineering.”
With regards to the service, support and expectations placed upon Mitutoyo, Mr. Rowley concludes: “We’ve never had an issue with Mitutoyo; the support is excellent. In terms of how quickly they respond to either an email or a call, there is always somebody on hand with the correct technical information. If we ever need on-site technical support, there is always someone available to come to our site, usually with same-day call-out support.”