These five outstanding firms are local heroes in the South, East and Midlands

Article Source: IMechE

Eastern: Aquaterra Energy

Ever since the great oil crash that started in late 2014 and saw prices per barrel plummet, companies in the volatile oil and gas industry have continued to look for ways to minimise costs and boost operational efficiencies.

Norwich-based Aquaterra Energy, which has offices in Aberdeen, Egypt, Norway and Australia, provides a range of engineering services and tools for operators, service companies and rigs.

Perhaps most notably, Aquaterra offers an analysis service to optimise the design of riser systems, which, in essence, are conductor pipes that connect floating drilling units to wellheads on the seabed. Such analysis can improve performance and ensure that riser systems are cost-effective and meet the required standards.

Greater London: Leonardo

In December 2018, rogue drones being flown near and above Gatwick airport led to three days of disruption and the cancellation of hundreds of flights. 

Being able to quickly detect and stop any illegal drone activity is critical for maintaining high levels of aviation safety. So the Ministry of Defence (MoD) is trying to understand better how to counteract the threat of hostile drones. 

Leonardo, one of the biggest suppliers of defence and security equipment to the MoD, has been selected to support the Royal Air Force through the testing of sensor technology. The three-year programme will start in 2020. Leonardo has its UK head office in London.

East Midlands: EPM Composites

When mechanic, motorcyclist and TV presenter Guy Martin set the world record for the fastest gravity-powered sled – 83.49mph – he had EPM Composites (previously EPM Technology) to thank for his success. 

The Derby-based manufacturer of carbon-fibre components, in tandem with Sheffield Hallam University’s Centre for Sports Engineering Research, designed and engineered a sled for optimum speed. Composite materials allow for high strength-to-weight ratios associated with outstanding performance.

EPM also supplies components to Formula One teams and has customers in the endurance motorsports world.

Midlands: FEV Group

While China, Germany and the US attract more investment than the UK when it comes to electric vehicle manufacturing, the UK still has a role to play in driving the automotive industry towards a cleaner future. 

In March 2019, the UK subsidiary of powertrain and vehicle engineering company FEV Group partnered with Coventry University to launch the Centre for Advanced Low-Carbon Propulsion Systems.

The £50m state-of-the-art facility will help support the development of the next generation of electric, hybrid and combustion engines. It will also be a testbed for current and future powertrain solutions.

Wessex: Wärtsilä

Cargo ships and other large vessels can be harsh environments for engineers to work in, especially if they’re faced with stormy conditions out at sea. 

In May 2019, the UK’s largest marine simulation training centre opened at Solent University’s Warsash School of Maritime Science and Engineering. The centre uses equipment from Wärtsilä, a global leader in smart technologies, with several offices across Wessex.

Simulations include training for high-voltage and liquid cargo situations and operating large structures and assets such as offshore cranes. Also featured is a virtual shipyard, which can be used to create digital twins of existing ships or to test vessels that are in the process of being designed. 

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