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£500, 000 worth of machine tools at Chelmsford College from RK International
£500, 000 worth of machine tools at Chelmsford College from RK International

£500, 000 worth of machine tools at Chelmsford College from RK International

Added to MTDCNC by RK Int Machine Tools on 10 May 2013

Sales by RK International Machine Tools to educational establishments have increased significantly with investment being driven by a desire to increase the number of apprentices and also the need for machine tools within college workshops to better reflect the needs of industry.

A case in point is a major £7 million investment at Chelmsford College, which has seen a new, purpose-built engineering department being built and equipped with almost £500, 000 worth of machine tools from the Erith-based company. There are 130 engineering students at Chelmsford College with the majority of them on full-time courses and the remainder learning as apprentices in full-time employment.

Training ranges from Level One, which is basic engineering using hand tools and manual lathes; Level Two, which moves students on to CNC  for the first time and also CAD drawing and programming; while Level Three students study on a two-year course to A-level standard preparing them for university or advanced apprenticeships.

'We are having to work much closer with industry and align our work with the environment that students will encounter once they leave college. This is why we are investing in machine tools that bear some relationship with the industrial world, with students able to program using the either the in-built cycles on the machine or by using G-codes,' says John Bedding, Course Team Leader, Engineering at Chelmsford College.


The two new workshops at Chelmsford have been equipped with five Europa Milltech CNC milling machines, 16 Colchester Student gap bed centre lathes and two Wabeco CNC desk top lathes along with other manual equipment from RK International Machine Tools. 'The college recognised that we had to deliver the standard of training that benefits students and employers, to that end the principal and governors were 100 per cent behind the investment in the engineering department. Now that we have these machines and facilities we are able to work closer with industry, and employers recognise that we can provide the quality of training that they need. We now find that they are more willing to work with us, even coming in and hosting presentations to students,' says John Bedding.
     
While the investment may have the backing of the board of governors, John Bedding still had to complete a rigorous justification process for each element of the investment. It was here that the high level of customer support from RK International Machine Tools first became evident. 'There was no hard sell from them and they were fully supportive when the inevitable delays arose during the quotation period due to the bureaucracy within the education system. And, once the order had been placed they worked extremely well with the contractors on site to ensure that everything was in place and delivery and installation went without a hitch. Installation was also very efficient, with the first machine arriving on the first day of the Easter holiday and all machines being ready for use on the first day back after the break.'

Gloucestershire Engineering Training is another establishment that has recently made significant investment in new machine tools from RK International Machine Tools. It workshops now contain eight Harrison M300 lathes and eight Europa Milltech 1000VS manual milling machines, which are being used to train first year apprentices who are working on their apprenticeship - Level 2 units as well as being used by students at higher levels. The investment was an opportunity to replace older machines that were becoming dated and maintenance was becoming an increasing cost. 'We took the decision to invest in new equipment  rather than continue to spend money on repairs. So, this investment reflects what we, as an organisation,  are doing to ensure that our equipment is fit for purpose,' says Gloucestershire Engineering Training’s Chief Executive, Linsey Temple. 'Because of our financial position, we could never fully replicate the standards and accuracy of the machines in industry, however, the machines we now have are capable of teaching the apprentices the basics (and more) to meet the needs of industry.'

The demand for apprentices is growing and this in part has fuelled the expansion at Gloucestershire Engineering Training where apprentice numbers reached a level where it had to relocate to larger premises, which in turn created the opportunity to add to its existing machine tool portfolio. The choice of machines and suppliers is extremely competitive and educational budgets have to be fully justified and spent wisely so it is always welcome when suppliers are recommended, which was the case at Gloucestershire Engineering Training, where one of its customers suggested that they talked to RK International Machine Tools.

'Our first contact with RK International was through a recommendation, but ultimately our decision was going to be based on cost and our justification was based on the fact that the prices that we paid for the machines from RK International were substantially less than what we had been paying for second hand industrial machines.  A further advantage of going to the style of machines supplied was their size, meaning that we could fit more into the available space,' says Linsey Temple.


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