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Advanced Manufacturing (Sheffield) Ltd. (AML) is an advanced manufacturing supplier based in Sheffield, specialising in the development of manufacturing solutions and production services for prestigious international blue-chip clients.

Originally set-up as a spin-out from the award-winning Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) at the University of Sheffield, AML is now recognised as a market leader in delivering flexible manufacturing capabilities at the leading edge of machining technologies and efficiencies. AML's expertise lies particularly in the aerospace, defence, and energy sectors. Utilising the latest technology and equipment, AML manufactures the highest quality precision parts available on the market today and is committed to supporting the factories of the future through early adoption of technology.

Using cutting edge technology and equipment, AML manufactures geometrically complex metallic components largely for turbine engine applications. Their specialty is their ability to achieve grinding tolerances through advanced adaptive milling and turning techniques.

AML's Story
The Challenge

Until recently, AML's security infrastructure faced significant vulnerabilities, posing a challenge in securing new defence contracts. Despite some ongoing defence projects, accounting for a mere 1% of total turnover in 2020, customer feedback highlighted glaring security gaps. Physical security concerns arose from open fire doors between buildings, facilitating unrestricted access.

Moreover, the company's cyber defences were alarmingly inadequate, relying primarily on basic firewall and antivirus software. Compounding the issue, the Unit C building accessed the internet via a vulnerable wireless transmission from Unit B.

The Solution

In order to overcome these potential company vulnerabilities, AML engaged with the Yorkshire and Humber Made Smarter programme to address these critical issues.

The support and guidance provided included:

Digital Manufacturing Adviser: Engagement with an experienced adviser to understand AMLs challenges and growth aspirations. Pivotal advice and engagement of what solutions would be best for their business.

Improved Connectivity: AML upgraded their infrastructure to use fibre connectivity between buildings instead of relying solely on wireless connections. This change enables more stable and reliable connections, reducing potential downtimes or disruptions in data transfer – critical to reaching customer orders.

Enhanced Cybersecurity: Investment in several cybersecurity measures, including Barracuda Firewall, CyberSmart (a monitoring and auditing software capable of checking devices for security issues), AI-driven Barracuda Email Protection, and segregating CNC machines from the rest of the network. These technologies help protect AML's systems and machining data from cyber threats.

Server Upgrades and Maintenance: Upgrading server operating systems and replacing unsupported devices to ensure better performance, reliability, and compliance with security standards.

Physical Security Measures: Implementing a new physical security system with individualised key fobs for employees to restrict access to specific areas, enhancing overall security measures, safeguarding our customers’ interests and sensitive information the company handles.

The Benefits

As a result of the upgraded facilities highlighted within the solutions, AML has yet to see a reflection in an upturn in defence project turnover. However, its immediate impact on customer perception has been notable.

Visitors now encounter a newly secured reception area, distinct from operational spaces, offering a modern waiting environment, as a result these enhancements have substantially increased quoting requests for defence components, elevating monthly quotes from 3-4 to over 20. Consequently, AML projects a substantial surge in defence turnover, from a modest 1% to an anticipated 25% within the next three years.

The security advancements also played a pivotal role in securing AML's Fit4Nuclear status, endorsed by the Nuclear AMRC.  AML foresees growth in Nuclear work, aiming to elevate turnover from 0 to 25% over the next three years. Achieving a balanced 25% turnover across aerospace, energy, defence, and nuclear sectors fortifies the company against market fluctuations, ensuring greater stability for the workforce.

Dr Gareth Morgan, Managing Director at AML, spoke of his support for the Yorkshire & Humber Made Smarter Programme, “The team at AML wholeheartedly endorses the Made Smarter programme and would actively encourage any organisation looking to leverage support and potentially funding to develop capability in any area of the business. We are actively seeking further support to expand our digital capability through the Made Smarter.”

The Future

The tumultuous impact of the pandemic on the aerospace market underscored the necessity for preparedness, and AML's technology implementations have positioned it to navigate such fluctuations more effectively.

Over the last twelve months, AML has grown from £8.9M turnover to £10M, driven largely by sales in the energy sector. They have also invested in more factory space to allow for further expansion and are anticipating the purchase of more CNC machines to support the expected increase in defence spending. AML have also created 7 jobs over the past year, with plans to create a further 12 over the next 12 months.

Marcus Pearson, Digital Manufacturing Adviser, said, “AML is undoubtedly one of the shining lights in the advanced manufacturing sector in Yorkshire and Humber, but they remain committed to looking to improve their performance in every facet of their business operations. AML is primarily a volume manufacturer but are frequently called upon by customers to provide a range of services because of their technical expertise. When customers are looking to increase their machining capability, develop manufacturing methods on new products or improve their existing processes AML offer service packages and incubate these projects in-house and can also offer to roll out the technology into a customer’s facilities, flexibility and agility are at the heart of their approach and the leadership team recognise the crucial role that digital technology plays in supporting this.

Despite their undoubted expertise and the business success they have achieved, the team at AML remain open and committed to accessing knowledge, information and support from external agencies – that is exactly why Made Smarter was on hand to help with this particular project – and why it is always a pleasure to see the impact that the programme delivers on the ground.”

Advanced Manufacturing (Sheffield) Ltd are now planning to further exploit the successful outcome of Made Smarter by leveraging their Fit4Nuclear status and secure infrastructure to secure more commercial work. With additional plans in place to strengthen the network on each individual CNC machine to protect CAM programs from unsolicited attacks.

AML is heavily focused on improving its digital capability by expanding its existing GPS tracking solution to include all areas of its facility. This project is one of many aimed at improving the overall productivity of the organisation.

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