Mulholland welcomes TEDx to Derby

The chances are you’ve probably watched a TED talk at some point in the last ten years. Originally a conference established in 1984, TED became a successful online video series in 2006 with over five million YouTube subscribers and a billion combined views to date.

Each talk provides speakers with a chance to inspire, influence and provoke thought. Personalities such as Bill Gates, U2’s Bono and Stephen Hawking have all contributed their expertise over the years, and recently it was the turn of our CEO, Graham Mulholland.

TEDx is an expansion of the TED conference programme, which allows communities to hold TED-licensed events locally. When Derby began curating a TEDx event of their own, a number of key figures in the business community were selected to speak. For Graham, it was another exciting moment in a year marking 20 years of epm: technology group.

Watch Mulholland’s TEDx talk below, in which he explains the impact composite materials have made in F1, and the possibilities of the technology going forwards.

epm: technology group in the words of our employees

Each and every staff member at epm: technology group has contributed in some way to the success we have achieved over the past two decades. In our 20th anniversary year, it is especially important to recognise their dedication and commitment.

We asked a number of our longest-serving employees to share their most prominent memories of working here, including their favourite projects and predictions for the future.

The featured image is a team photo from the early 2000s. We’ve come a long way!

In their words, here is our story.

On their first day

“I remember my first day at epm: technology group. I was really nervous but I got placed with one of the lead laminators, Everton Reid, who still works here today. He took me under his wing and I learnt a lot during that period of time that has served me well throughout my career.”

David – Laminating Manager (year joined, 1996)

“I was really anxious about how epm would change things for me. It felt like a big step to enter the world of work, and everything seemed really complicated at first. Luckily, I kept going and i’m coming up to celebrating twenty years with the company soon. It wasn’t as scary as it seemed.”

Gavin – Laminator (year joined, 1996)

On their most challenging project

“The most challenging project I have been involved in by far is the clock hands for China. They were one of the biggest structural components we’ve ever produced.”

David – Fitter (year joined, 2000)

“It might surprise you to know that it was actually making the move into our newest factory. It was such a big change from the last facility, and it took a lot of time and organisation to transfer the expensive machinery from one place to another. It was also a challenge to remember where everything was in the new building which meant that we didn’t get properly up and running for a good few weeks. I’ve only just got the hang of everything!”

David – Laminating Manager (year joined, 1996)

On the most important thing they’ve learnt at epm

“The most important thing I’ve learnt at epm is that, in order to meet a deadline, you have to work hard and do things correctly. If you don’t put the effort in, you won’t get results. It’s as simple as that.”

Paul – Deputy Fitting Manager (year joined, 2007)

“I’ve learnt to think correctly under pressure. That’s definitely a good skill to have in my role, as I can often be juggling a variety of different tasks at the same time. Getting stressed helps no one, and it certainly doesn’t get things done.”

Maggie – Purchasing/HR Manager (year joined, 2003)

On the biggest difference they’ve seen at epm

“The biggest difference I’ve seen at epm since I started working here is our current facility. It’s such an inspiring environment and it’s a fantastic place to work.” 

Gavin – Laminator (year joined, 1996)

“As the company has grown, the level of skill needed to work on some of the more complex projects we undertake now has definitely increased. I’ve had to work hard to keep up with the level of knowledge that is required in my role. If you’re not on the ball, you won’t last long here because there’s so much talent waiting to get a chance in the industry.” 

Andy – Laminator (year joined, 1997)

On the ways in which epm support the next generation of engineers and manufacturers

“I think the great thing about epm as an employer is that we give young people the best opportunities possible to succeed. Whether those opportunities are taken or not is up to the individual. I like to think we place quite a lot of importance in on-the-job training, too. You can’t learn everything in a classroom, and placing the young guys with more experienced members of staff like myself allows them to learn the do’s and don’ts early on.”

David – Fitter (year joined, 2000)

“Recently we’ve opened the epm academy, which has produced some really bright young engineers so far. I’ve been impressed by the maturity and work ethic of the students — Derby College has worked with us to create a fantastic opportunity for them.” 

Andy – Laminator (year joined, 1997)

On the advice they would give to new starters

“I would tell any new starter to listen to more experienced staff members, ask questions and never assume there is nothing left to learn. There will be people you encounter along the way that don’t do things correctly, and it’s up to you to take both the good and bad from your colleagues and senior staff members and use it to better yourself for the future.”

Gavin – Laminator (year joined, 1996)

“My advice would be to have a positive, can-do attitude. Negativity doesn’t help anyone, and negative employees don’t last long here. This industry can be difficult and fast-paced. Tight deadlines can see people working incredibly long days and spending a lot of time away from home, but everyone is in the same boat and we are like a big family. A large portion of our lives are spent at work, so you might as well enjoy it.”

Maggie – Purchasing/HR Manager (year joined, 2003)

On their fondest memory at epm

“Definitely the friends i’ve made here. I’m really lucky to work with such a great team and we’ve definitely made a few memories over the years. Whether I can remember them or not is another story! We work really hard here but a job is nothing without the people around you.”

David – Fitter (year joined, 2000)

“My fondest memory of working at epm is seeing young people joining the company, working hard and achieving their goals. I’ve seen some people grow up here and really make something of themselves.”

Maggie – Purchasing/HR Manager (year joined, 2003)

“So much has happened but i’d have to say winning the first annual Christmas jumper competition. Nothing else comes close.”

Gavin – Laminator (year joined, 1996)

On the future of epm

“I think we will have several sites across the country and maybe some in Europe or America.”

Maggie – Purchasing/HR Manager (year joined, 2003)

“I’d like to see us working on more complex aircraft parts and even branch out into the space sector. There’s a lot of opportunities there for businesses like epm.”

David – Fitter (year joined, 2000)

“In another 20 years time I think epm: technology group will be the number one composites company in the UK.”

Andy – Laminator (year joined, 1997)

epm: technology at the Farnborough International Airshow 2016

We are proud to announce that epm: technology group will be exhibiting for the very first time at the 2016 Farnborough International Airshow.

You can find us in Hall 4 on stand A10 – come and see all that we have to offer the aerospace sector.

The Farnborough Airshow is a week-long event which began in 1948. The event combines both a trade-show and awe-inspiring public air displays, making it a must-visit for anyone passionate about all things aerospace.

We’ve come a long way since 1996, and our participation in the show at Farnborough is another great chapter in our story.

Celebrating the return of the European Grand Prix

Previously held at five different circuits (Brands Hatch, Donington Park, Jerez, Nürburgring and Valencia) the European Grand Prix has a rich history within Formula 1.

This weekend, the event returns in the city of Baku, Azerbaijan, and we couldn’t be more excited.

One of the biggest sporting events ever to be held in Azerbaijan, a unique street circuit has been specially constructed for the race weekend. Designed by Hermann Tilke, it is the second-longest track on the F1 calendar behind Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps.

Baku Trivia:

1. Home to the longest straight on the F1 calendar at 2.1km/1.305 miles

2. 6.006km/3.732 miles long in total

3. 62 gear changes per lap, 3,162 per race

4. First anti-clockwise circuit of the 2016 season

To celebrate the first European Grand Prix since 2012, we have collected three of our most memorable moments from the event since its inception.

Senna’s incredible first lap at Donington Park

Torrential rain didn’t stop Ayrton, as he masterfully cruised past four cars during the first lap of this classic race.

Mark Webber’s airborne crash at Valencia

Perhaps a true testament to the progress made with safety in the sport, Mark Webber survived this spectacular crash which ended with his car upside-down in the barrier.

Fernando Alonso’s emotional victory in his home country

Starting an incredible 11th on the grid, Fernando Alonso took a surprise victory at Valencia in 2012, driving one of the greatest races of his career so far.

What are your most memorable moments?

Beijing Motor Show – The cars that stole the headlines

Last week saw a host of big-name car manufacturers debut their exciting new models at the Beijing Motor Show.

From longer wheelbases to electric concept cars, these are our picks for the cars that really stood out from the crowd.

Porsche 718 Cayman

(Image courtesy of Porsche)

The new Cayman certainly looks the part, but it’s also reported to have improved fuel economy from the previous model. The standard version of the two-seater uses a 296bhp 2.0-litre turbo and is said to cover 0-62mph in 4.7 seconds, while the faster S version uses a 345bhp 2.5-litre and takes just 4.2 seconds.

Mercedes-Benz E-Class LWB

(Image courtesy of Car and Driver)

140mm longer than the regular sedan and with a total length of over 5 metres, this business limousine will be in Chinese showrooms by the end of summer.

Smart Brabus

(Image courtesy of Auto Express)

The most powerful version of the two-seater to ever be mass-produced, the 2017 Brabus has an output of 109hp. It also has a Brabus performance sports suspension with specially adapted ESP, sports power steering and a dynamic configuration of the twinamic dual-clutch transmission with Race Start function.

Audi TT RS

(Image courtesy of Auto Express)

In Coupe form, the new RS is said to cover 0-62mph in just 3.7 seconds. With power upped to 394bhp and the addition of both direct and indirect fuel injection, Audi claims to have retained the engine’s unique rich sound whilst saving weight and lowering fuel consumption.

BAIC Arcfox-7

(Image courtesy of Autocar)

Perhaps the most visually striking of the lot, this electric supercar from BAIC turned heads at the event. With a design inspired by Formula E cars, the Arcfox-7 is powered by a 6.6kWh battery pack connected to a 603bhp electric motor. Official figures state it can reach 60mph in less than 3 seconds with a top speed of 162mph. Can they take on Tesla?

Featured image courtesy of Top Gear.

Carbon Fibre – shaping the automotive industry

Not just reserved for cutting-edge Formula 1 cars, Carbon fibre is also making a large impact on the automotive industry as a whole, with composite materials increasing in popularity and slowly progressing into mainstream markets.

We take a look at three recent uses of carbon fibre and why the material was chosen for the task.

2017 Toyota Prius Prime

Image courtesy of www.roadandtrack.com

Due for release next year, this plug-in hybrid uses an 8.8kwh battery with a 22 mile electric-only range. Although an impressive upgrade on the previous model (which had only 12), the extra weight of the larger battery required savings to be made in other areas. Toyota used carbon fibre for the rear hatch, which saved around 8lbs and increased the fuel efficiency of the vehicle. Composite materials offer a weight-saving attribute without compromising the structural integrity of their traditional counterparts.

BMW 7-Series

Image courtesy of www.carscoops.com

The 2016 BMW 7-series uses carbon fibre strategically throughout the chassis. The material is present in the A, B and C pillars and roof of the vehicle—which not only conserves weight but also reduces chassis flex. This, along with a lower centre of gravity from the lighter roof, helps to improve handling. As one material in a complex project, carbon fibre components can be used to improve performance through clever application and engineering.

Ford Ecoboost engine

Image courtesy of www.topgear.com

In a concept unveiled earlier this year at the Detroit Motor Show, Ford’s next generation lightweight Ecoboost units are due to have a 15.5% overall weight deduction. Carbon fibre is to be used in the cylinder head, front cover and oil pan which also improves NVH. Although often thought of in a more structural context, carbon fibre has knock-on benefits that can result in improvements to drive comfort.

Featured image courtesy of www.motortrend.com

3 planes that changed the course of modern aviation

Since the Wright brothers invented the world’s first successful airplane, there have been countless innovations within the aerospace sector.

In partnership with a number of aerospace experts here at epm: technology group, we examine the history behind three aircraft models which have been undoubtedly influential to modern aviation through both their design and technological advances.

Concorde

The first model is arguably the most famous. Way ahead of its time, the well-loved supersonic aircraft flew around 2.5 million passengers up until its withdrawal in 2003.

The origins of Concorde date back to the 1950s when the idea of a supersonic passenger plane gained momentum due to aviator Chuck Yeager’s blast through the sound barrier. In 1962, the French president Charles de Gaulle made a plea for Britain and France to co-operate in building an aircraft which focused on speed rather than increased passenger capacity, as was the trend at the time. Due to the insistence that the aircraft should fly at supersonic speed, the model was deemed too expensive for any one country to fund alone. The word “Concorde” was first mentioned in reference to the supersonic aircraft project in 1963 during a speech by the French president. Britain referred to the aircraft initially as “Concord” without the ‘e’.

The project did not come without hitches however, as Britain’s new Labour government announced their withdrawal from the project in 1964, only to change their minds the following year. In 1967, in front of over a thousand onlookers, the first prototype French Concorde was rolled out in Toulouse. During this event, British technology minister Anthony Wedgwood Benn announced that the British aircraft would now also be known as “Concorde”, this time with the added ‘e’, which stood in his words for “excellence, England, Europe and entente”. In 1968, the British prototype made its debut.

Both models made their first flights in 1969, and began commercial service at Air France and British Airways in 1976. Before it was certified for passenger flight however, Concorde endured over 5,000 hours of testing – making it the most tested aircraft of all time.

Concorde measured 62.10m in length, was 11.40m high and had a wing span of 25.56m. Due to the heating of the airframe, it stretched between six and ten inches during flight meaning that all surfaces were warm to the touch by the end of a flight. To compensate for this, it was painted in a specially developed white paint to dissipate the heat generated by supersonic flight.

Powered by four Rolls-Royce/SNECMA Olympus 593 engines, it seated 100 passengers, had a take-off speed of 220 knots (250mph) and a cruising speed of 1350mph – more than twice the speed of sound. It was revolutionary in many ways, including being the first aircraft to have computer-controlled engine air intakes and carbon fibre brakes decades before they became mainstream technology. The innovative engine air intakes made it possible to slow the air down by 1,000 mph in the space of around 4.5s. Without this, the engines would have blown apart.

When travelling by Concorde, it was even possible for passengers to see the curvature of the earth as the plane could fly up to an amazing 60,000 feet.

A typical London to New York crossing took less than three and a half hours compared to approximately eight hours for a subsonic flight, and Concorde also holds the record for the fastest crossing by a civil aircraft. The quickest ever Concorde flight from New York to London took only 2 hours, 52 minutes and 29 seconds in 1996. Perhaps more impressively, Concorde flew around the world in 29 hours, 59 minutes in 1986, covering 28, 238 miles during that time.

Tragically, the Concorde project came to an end in 2003 following a fatal crash in 2000 which claimed the lives of 113 people and crippled investment for the venture; but it will always be remembered as a piece of pioneering engineering in the aerospace sector. A dreamer’s feat that broke new ground in travelling at great speeds.

Boeing 747 – the original “Jumbo Jet”

The Boeing 747, otherwise known as the “Jumbo Jet” or “Queen of the Skies”, is one of the most distinctive and successful planes of all time. With its famous shape, characterised by the ‘hump’ which contains the upper deck usually reserved for first class passengers, the 747 fleet has flown more than half of the world’s population.* Although its days are now numbered, as the first wide-body ever produced it has transformed the aerospace industry as we know it today.

Releasing the 747 was a big gamble in the late 1960s as supersonic travel, like the Concorde mentioned earlier, was seen as the future. Boeing stuck to their guns however, and built a hangar for the plane’s construction which was so large that, by volume, it remains the biggest building ever made. A team of around 50,000 construction workers, mechanics, engineers, secretaries and administrators – often referred to as “The Incredibles” – made aviation history by building the aircraft in less than 16 months.

The Boeing 747 is assembled from around 6 million parts, half of which are fasteners or rivets. The fuselage is a framework of beams and ribs in the shape of a large tube. All parts are made from lightweight aluminium alloys and the aluminium is mixed with various other metals such as copper and zinc to make it tougher. The outer skin of the plane is just five millimetres thick, and between the outer skin and internal panels there are soundproof and heat-resistant materials.

The 747 is 19.35 metres high, 76 metres long and seats a maximum of 660 passengers. This capability was a large factor in the success of the aircraft. When the 747 debuted, it meant that there was a large increase in the number of passengers it was possible to transport per flight, which brought down the per-seat cost of operation. This gave airlines the opportunity to offer flights to new, exciting destinations around the world.

The aircraft was a big hit with customers, as it meant that they had the chance to travel in comfortable conditions for less money. For many years, the 747 was considered the gold standard for passenger air travel. Sir Richard Branson launched his airline with a 747 flight, and modified versions of the 747 were often used to transport space shuttles.

It is sad to think that this giant of an aircraft could disappear from our skies in the near future, but the aerospace industry is once again beginning to focus more on speed than capacity. Technological advances in the reliability of turbofan engines have also meant that the 747’s four are no longer needed, with trends shifting towards two-engined ‘mini jumbos’ instead. That said, this plane will forever remain iconic.

*britishairways.com

Boeing 787 Dreamliner

Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner is one of the most revolutionary aircraft designs of recent years, and Boeing’s most fuel-efficient airliner in a time when the health of the planet is a big issue on everyone’s minds.

The development of the 787 began in the early 1990s when Boeing decided that they needed a replacement for their aging 767 model. With competition from Concorde, speed became a desirable feature. With this in mind, Boeing floated the idea of a sub-sonic cruiser which would dramatically reduce journey times whilst staying below the speed of sound. Boeing’s issue with the speeds attained by Concorde was that it meant the aircraft could only be operated over water, which made it unsaleable to most airlines.

The sub-sonic cruiser attracted a fair amount of interest, but the idea never had the chance to come to fruition. The 9/11 attacks in 2001 had a devastating effect on the aerospace industry, sending fuel costs skyrocketing and causing airlines to shift their focus from speed to efficiency.

Unveiled as the “Dreamliner” in 2003 after an online competition, was instead a plane which ran at a similar speed to most of today’s fastest passenger planes, (Mach 0.85) but quietly innovated in other ways.

The 787 is the first commercial airplane to have a composite fuselage and wings. The model contains approximately 77,000 lb of carbon fibre-reinforced polymer (CFRP) made with 51,000 lb of carbon fibre. As we know here at epm, the use of composite materials allows for a significantly lighter aircraft, therefore making it an unbelievable 20% more fuel efficient than other equivalent models being flown today. Boeing also claims that the 787 makes 60% less noise. One of the other most interesting aspects of the 787 is that it uses powerful Lithium-ion batteries on a large scale for the first time. By using more electric systems on board, the 787 does not require bleed air from the engines for the likes of air conditioning, which also helps to save an incredible amount of fuel.

As the aerospace industry continues to evolve, we enjoy seeing more and more developments of both old and new ideas in designs which incorporate engineering skill and technology that we have acquired in the centuries since the Wright Brothers made their first flight.

In brief – other planes that broke the mould:

Airbus A320 – First airliner to implement fly-by-wire controls which reduced arm fatigue for pilot

Rutan Model 76 Voyager – The first plane to fly around the world without stopping or refuelling

rutan-model-76-voyager

Image source: Wikimedia.org

MacCready Gossamer Albatross – The first human-powered aircraft to cross the English Channel

gossamer-albatross

Image source: Wikimedia.org