Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Some years ago we became indirectly involved with a start-up business called Create-3D. The operation, run by Professor Malcolm McCormick was exploring the benefits to industry of the technique of 3D imaging from a unique photographic technique. The result provides a seamless 3D image that can be viewed as in real life without the use of glasses and other accessories. Also with no eye strain.

The system finally became Living Image, developed and transferred into the domestic market by Living Image

They were early days but all who saw the benefits of working with seamless 3D viewing is now becoming a reality for industry designers. An article in The Engineer this month is a fascinating look at how digital gizmos are being used in the design process for exploring concepts and ideas prior to any manufacture or prototyping. As they say “Technology directly inspired by video gaming and special-effects work, notably motion capture, to enable engineers to build components or carry out maintenance tasks in the virtual world to identify and eliminate the bottlenecks in the process”

In an industry we know well, and a client we also know well through Industrial Automation, Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) is joining the aerospace sector in using VR technology to design its production processes.

As the article says  ‘The use of VR is becoming more common in the automotive sector, with several companies — particularly at the high end of the industry — using the technology to give prospective customers a taste of the vehicle layout and look. But with its Ergonomics Lab at its facility in Gaydon, JLR is taking this to another level, using VR in a similar way to the aerospace sector, with a VR suite incorporating Sony 4K high-resolution screens. Almost half of the time on the VR suite is used for vehicle package engineering, such as fine-tuning the cabin ergonomics, improving vision from the driving seat of the instruments and ensuring that the vehicle frame doesn’t obscure the driver’s vision in dangerous ways. Other areas where it is used include crash simulation and aerodynamics and in designing the assembly process.

VR helps Jaguar Land Rover design its products, and how to build them
‘The tools for high-end VR are pretty much common across all the sectors that use them,’ said VR manager Brian Waterfield. ‘You aren’t going to find much difference between our kit and the type of setup used in aerospace.’ The design of Range Rover Evoque depended heavily on VR, he added. ‘It was a real challenge. Being a much more constrained design than we had done previously, we had to work out how everything fitted together very carefully.’

VR gives engineers a much more intuitive view of simulation, Waterfield said. ‘As we’re moving towards more and more simulation, it becomes more important to us.’ Using the VR system to plan out changes to the manufacturing track allows potential safety, productivity and maintenance problems to be detected, visualised and solved before equipment is installed and even, in some cases, before it is ordered. For example, some manufacturing jigs have protrusions on their upper surfaces that can cause problems when installing car roofs and have, in the past, required repositioning or changing tools — this is not the case anymore.’

As the business that supplies the Headliner Assembly Systems for JLR, (these are part of the internal finishes of a vehicle head liners provide additional safety and location for vehicle wiring and information systems), Industrial Automation provides a complete range of equipment from initial press tooling and robot based ultrasonic cutting and trimming systems to operator assist displays, gluing integration and full assembly and quality checks.
As our clients move into 3D visualisation to explore the full picture in the design process, so do the Industrial Automation and TEW designers who use software packages that were inconceivable a few years ago in the power of their modelling and interpretation.
It’s nice to know that The TEW Group have been involved with pioneers who explored the early days of an innovative technology such as Professor Malcolm McCormick all those years ago.

Read more here

Friday, 19 December 2014

Merry Christmas 1914

As we approach the end of the year, and of course, the end of our Centenary Year, it may have been easy to congratulate ourselves on an intense but enjoyable time looking back at the TEW Group over the last 100 years since its establishment.

More importantly its another centenary landmark of course and we reflect on the commemorations of the start of the Great War from the highly visible Tower of London Poppies to small but equally important activities such as school assemblies helping primary school kids remember the sacrifices made by over 37 million casualties (according to Wikipedia).

It’s Christmas as well and we’ve recently come across a fascinating website. It’s the account of the Christmas Truce during the Great War and we found it while engaging in our search for associated Centenary Commemorations.

The site is about Sgt Bernard Joseph Brookes Diary while serving in the 'Queen's Westminster Rifles' in 1914/1915. It has scans of the original diary plus the account can be downloaded. The site link is

Thankfully, there has been a substantial rise in interest of the Christmas Truce but this diary doesn’t just focus on this small part of the conflict. There is a fantastic daily account of Bernard’s experiences including the time he joined up and the days following his posting. An example from the text:

24.12.1914 (Xmas Eve)

Towards evening the Germs became very hilarious, singing and shouting out to us. They said in English that if we did not fire they would not, and eventually it was arranged that shots should not be exchanged. With this they lit fires outside their trench, and sat round and commenced a concert, incidentally singing some English songs to the accompaniment of a bugle band. A German officer carrying a lantern came slightly forward and asked to see one of our officers to arrange a truce for tomorrow (Xmas day).

An officer went out (after we had stood at our posts with rifles loaded in case of treachery) and arrangements were made that between 10 am and 12 noon, and from 2.00 pm to 4.00 pm tomorrow, intercourse between the Germs and ourselves should take place. It was a beautiful night and a sharp frost set in, and when we awoke in the morning the ground was covered with a white raiment. It was indeed an ideal Christmas, and the spirit of peace and goodwill was very striking in comparison with the hatred and death-dealing of the past few months. One appreciated in a new light the meaning of Christianity, for it certainly was marvellous that such a change in the attitude of the opposing armies could be wrought by an Event which happened nigh on 2000 years ago.

25.12.1914 (Xmas day)

During the night two men were reported to be missing and I had to go out early in the morning on my cycle to try to find them. I went to the Dressing Station in Chappelle d'Armentieres a mile or so away, but they had not been there. Later in the day the Bosches told us that two men the night before had walked into their trench in a state which proved that they had "drunk of the loving cup, not wisely, but too well". We asked that they should be returned to us, but they refused on account of the fact that these men had seen the position of their machine guns. They promised, however, to wire to their headquarters, and see what could be done in the matter. Later we were informed that it had been decided to intern them in a Civilian Camp, and not treat them as prisoners of war, so as this seemed fair and the only course open we left it at that.

At 9 am as I was off duty I received permission to go to Mass at a Church which I had discovered whilst hunting for the missing men. This Church was terribly shelled, and was within the range of rifle fire, as was clearly proved by the condition of the wall facing the trenches, and no effort had been made to clear the wreckage, as to attempt this would have been fraught with danger. A priest, however, had come in from Armentieres to minister to the few people who were still living in the district. In this Church which would hold about 300, there were some 30 people, and I was the only soldier. It was indeed a unique service, and during a short address which the priest gave I was about the only one who was not crying, and that because I did not understand much of what was being said.

I returned to headquarters and went on duty from noon to 2 PM, during which time I partook of my Christmas Fair which consisted of "Bully", "Spuds", Xmas pudding, and vin rouge, which latter we found in one of the cellars on the farm.
In the afternoon I went out and had a chat with "our friends the enemy". Many of the Germs had costumes on which had been taken from the houses nearby, and one facetious fellow had a blouse, skirt, top hat, and umbrella, which grotesque figure caused much merriment. Various souvenirs were exchanged which I managed to send home. We also had an opportunity of seeing the famous Iron Cross which some of the men wore attached to a black and white riband. These crosses are very well made and have an edging of silver. The man's name is engraved on one side, and the reason of the award briefly stated on the other. I have also a number of Germ signatures and addresses on a fly leaf of my "Active Service Pay Book" and it was arranged that at the end of the war we would write one to the other if we came through safely.

The Germs wanted to continue a partial truce until the New Year, for as some of them said, they were heartily sick of the war, and did not want to fight, but as we were leaving the trenches early next morning, and naturally did not want them to know, we insisted on the truce ending at midnight, at which time our artillery sent over to them four shells of small calibre to let them know that the truce, at which the whole World would wonder, was ended, and in its place, death and bloodshed would once more reign supreme.

A Signaller's War: Notes Compiled from My Diary 1914-1918

We noticed that the Diary is also available as a book and can be obtained from Amazon.

All profits go to the British Legion.

On behalf of The TEW Group, have a great Christmas and look forward to being in touch in the new year.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

First Impressions Count – Tips for a great working environment

Over the years, The TEW Group have tended to let our work speak for itself in terms of quality and expertise. We want our customers to see we are top notch in all departments. Hopefully our record proves the case but sometimes, it really does pay to go the extra mile.

The last two years have seen us undergo a rebrand, to modernise our brand and image and align this brand to represent our desires to push boundaries, engineer excellence and produce quality innovative work. After crafting our logo, and rebranding our communication materials and websites we were left with a building that, although functional, wasn’t quite living up to our standards.

Alongside our rebranding we decided to renovate the offices so that not only were our customers blown away by a welcoming experience, but our staff too were surrounded by an environment that supported their creativity, was uncluttered and maximised efficiency, but also gave us a place to showcase the pride we have in our work.

This is a concept known as brand environments which uses the areas which we occupy, as a canvas for the type of work we want to be producing and image we want to purvey.

Before we updated our building we were no strangers to brand environments. In the past we’ve produced some great work for E.ON, South Staffordshire College, Nottingham Forest, Derby College and most recently Heart of Worcestershire College. These projects included wall treatments, signage, window graphics, art displays and much more. We have taken the fabric of a building and created flow, functionality, personality, history and a sense of identity within it.

The benefits we’ve reaped from creating our own brand environment within The TEW Group have been tremendous. Not only do we have great working environment, but the customer facing identity we’ve presented gives our clients the utmost confidence that we are the right people for the job.

So how can you achieve a great brand environment within your organisation, workspace or building?

Here’s our top tips:

1) Start with a blank canvas

Wall treatments and brand messages are fantastic, but applying these on top of a rundown building, with walls that have seen better days won’t really cut it. Strip back, remove unnecessary clutter, repaint. Do what is necessary to freshen the infrastructure of the area. This stage can be somewhat labour intensive and costly, particularly if you happen to inhabit an older space, but is vital to creating the clean satisfy space you want. Whatever your business ethos, whether you want to convey and evoke a homely atmosphere, a handmade fair trade ethic, precision or cutting edge technology, the starting point is striping the space back to its bones.

A room manager system keeps our meetings running like clockwork

2) Put your stamp on it.

The key areas here are the outside of the building, the entrance and anywhere customer facing. Whilst you don’t want to overwhelm customers with your logos splashed everywhere, placing a few keys ones, produced in a great way, shows clarity of message and reinforces your brand.

Welcome to the TEW Group #tewgroup #signage #welcome #reception #building #entrance #comeonein #hello #caliba #tewplus #industrialautomation

3) Be proud of what you do.

At The TEW Group we wanted a way to showcase to our customers the work we do without shoving it down their throats, but also populate our staff areas with pictures that they can be proud of. For us that meant using our extensive work image library as canvas artwork. We have around 100 boards around the building, if you stop and look at them they show our many facets, but they’re also background d├ęcor, livening up the building and adding colour and personality, as well as branding reinforcement.

A set of canvases - in this case a great night shot of our building

4) Inspire your workforce.

Motivational messages may be someone of a buzz term these days, but genuinely can have impact. Used in the right way can inspire employees and add to the picture you want to create for your business.

Our motivational messages

5) The details count.

One thing we’ve found since overhauling our premises is that clients notice the detail we’ve put into our space, and this lets them know that we take care, time and have great attention to detail in our work. Small things like the way you organise cupboards and storage, matching furniture, clean meeting rooms and even well-presented bathrooms all count.

Inspirational engineers line the walls, and meeting rooms are labelled in corporate font.

If you want to know more about Brand Environments, email me on for more information and free guide.

Friday, 3 October 2014

Art or Atrocity? Graffiti on the Railways

We recently heard from friends working in South Yorkshire Police that the infamous graffiti artist, Simon Sutherland is back behind bars again after he admitted causing more than £90,000 of new damage. His graffiti tags have blighted the rail network for decades as these two articles in the Sheffield Telegraph and The Star show.
Tagging and Graffiti on Railway Buildings like Relocatable Equipment Buildings and Location Cases (cabinets) have been an ever increasing problem for Network Rail for many years ever since Banksie and his contemporaries started to celebrate their notoriety for work on easy building fabric targets, many of which are found on railways.

The TEW Group manufacture and install REBs and Location cabinets (LOCs) and apart from the comprehensive demands of the electrical engineering and structural requirements, Project Managers are ever mindful of the buildings integrity to stand up to the many years being on the rail estate. Tim Hadfield, Director responsible for Rail at TEW says “these REBs and LOCs are an important part of the Rail Signalling Infrastructure and although the Group spends many hours fitting them out with cabling and relays, we are very mindful of how the building will repel graffiti and remain secure.”

Anti-Graffiti technologies such as specialised Paint finishes are available and in line with Network Rail's policy on graffiti there is a common desire to prevent and reduce instances of Graffiti on the railways.

The TEW Group has a range of covert and overt camera security systems that are currently active on the Railway infrastructure across the UK. Cable theft and trespass can be detected and filmed for future prosecutions but graffiti can present an ever undetectable problem for remote buildings and cabinets. That’s why The TEW Groups is active in not only producing the highest quality working REBs and LOCs, but they are also looking at technologies that will help Network Rail reduce their  massive £3.5million annual spend removing artwork from the likes of Mr Sutherland from Relocatable Equipment Buildings and other rail infrastructure.

By the way, we aren’t responsible for the following!

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Our Engineering Adventure

“Our ‘Engineering Adventure’ means exactly that - it's a journey into the unknown for all of us.”

We like this expression by Wing Commander Andy Green, the current world land-speed record holder, as part of his diary for BBC News about his experiences working on the Bloodhound Supersonic Car project and the team's efforts to inspire national interest in science and engineering.

The expression has many nuances. In particular, the term ‘Engineering Adventure’ sums up the Bloodhound project perfectly. If you follow the project there is no doubt that much of what they are doing is a journey into the unknown. The project creators are truly adventurers in that every component will be experiencing performance factors for the first time. We like the way Andy Green postulates,   “The car will also be accelerating and decelerating at high g, so the wheels are likely to experience a lot of "slip" as they struggle to keep up, generating yet more friction. The bottom line is that we don't know exactly how hot the wheel rims will get, so it's another on the long list of things that we will have to measure when we start testing.”

On a wet and cold Monday morning it’s difficult to look at our own Engineering Groups efforts as an “adventure”. Indeed much of what most businesses get up to can be spectacularly mundane and repetitive. Sometimes, of course, this is essential and in our case, replicating high quality and standards is exactly what our clients want. To engage them into the “adventure” we may have taken to reach that point may be a conversation too far and we would concede that much of our own engineering journey is unseen by everyone but ourselves.

The people at our own Industrial Automation have a reputation for innovation and sometimes experimentation. Every client set challenge can be met with 2 or 3 solutions which may need to be tested before the suitable one come to the fore. In some cases, even when the solution is produced as a fully-fledged prototype machine, aspects of the unknown, as with Bloodhound, will set their own challenges. In which case, unnoticed by our clients would be the group of our engineers including, as last week, by our own Dr Martyn Paradise, screwdriver in hand, standing over a machine in deep concentration and obvious experimentation in the hours after everyone else had left for the day.

One evening in particular he looked a little grumpy that something obviously wasn’t doing what it was supposed to although, happily, I noticed that he and his team appeared a little more cheerful the following evening as I left for the day!

The Engineering Adventure for kids can be very inspirational. The Museum of Science on Boston US has formed a curriculum for young children through their Engineering is Elementary scheme. Fittingly called “engineering adventures” it looks to follow characters India and Jacob around the world and solve real-life problems through the engineering design process. The stories encourage engagement in experiments and extracurricular activities where the thrust of the message is that “Engineering is everywhere” and that problems can be solved using the engineering design process, creativity, and collaboration. It suggests it empowers young people “to problem solve, think creatively, and learn from one another.” 

Is engineering really everywhere however? An answer could be explained by listing the Engineering fields covered by the EiE curriculum. These are:

  • Aerospace
  • Civil
  • Materials
  • Environmental
  • Electrical
  • Green
  • Biomedical
  • Agricultural
  • Geotechnical
  • Optical
  • Transportation
  • Bioengineering
  • Package
  • Industrial
  • Ocean
  • Chemical
  • Acoustical
  • Mechanical

As you can see, the EiE people believe engineering covers almost every facet of our lives and it’s hard to disagree. The relationship with the sciences is tangible and the obvious challenge for educators is to re-brand the word engineering, steering it carefully away from the understandable bridge building and gears as archetypal examples of what most people envisage the word engineering to represent.
On the 10th September, Richard Noble OBE, the leader of The BLOODHOUND Project which as they say “is a global Engineering Adventure, using a 1000 mph World Land Speed Record attempt to inspire the next generation about science, technology, engineering and mathematics.” came to give us an inspirational talk. We were delighted to welcome him on the day of our centenary party, and we also welcomed the Bloodhound Educational Team who are used the day to inspire some students from Derby College who were invited to our factory to take part in the days workshops and events. Hopefully this will be the start of their own “Engineering Adventure” and perhaps, the TEW Group will have had their own small part to play in it.

To read Andy Green's full story go to this BBC Article. The Engineering is Elementary project can be found here, and the main bloodhound website for all the latest information can be found here. 
We'd also like to thank the Bloodhound SSC Education Team, Richard Noble OBE, and Derby College.

View our gallery of pictures below taken during our celebration and read about it here