Queen's Award for Enterprise

Electric vehicles – an opportunity, not a threat

Michael Cooper, Executive Manager – Machining at Grainger & Worrall, explains why the growth of electric vehicles is an opportunity, not a threat, to businesses willing to take advantage of emerging markets.

Originally established to deliver high-precision, low-tolerance machining support to our cylinder heads and engine castings facility here in Bridgnorth, our experienced machining capability has grown to provide precision parts to OEM customers all over the world. Key to this success, which now accounts for around 15% of our business’ turnover, is the diversification into emerging markets such as electronic drive units (EDUs).

We recognise that while cylinder heads and engine blocks remain an important part of our business, there are opportunities beyond this to machine EDUs and body in white structures for OEMs as they develop new models for the EV or hybrid markets, where weight reduction is a huge issue.

For any aluminium casting that needs to be machined to tight tolerances, our techniques do not change. We have developed a unique skillset for machining castings with complex cores and can effectively transfer this capability into other areas.

This sharing of know-how is helping us extend our scope of work, with the machining facility recently completing projects for customers in the aerospace and defence sectors. We’ve also set up a dedicated flexible manufacturing system to supply body nodes to a well-known, high performance vehicle manufacturer. This project saw GWM involved from prototype through to small series supply – proving that we are evolving into more than a high precision casting specialist.

We are increasingly being involved in large programmes of work with continued investment in both our people (now numbering more than 700) and engineering capability. The next few years look very exciting as we continue to diversify, branching out into other industries and working on major manufacturing projects all over the world.

Our message to the industry is to adapt now to the opportunities being presented by electrification and future vehicle designs. The industry has a wealth of experience and skills that can positively be transferred into these new business streams.

Categories: Castings