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Automation technology put high on East of England production skills training agenda

Written by JOC, posted in Client News on July 21, 2008

Over the next three years up to 6,500 people from Peterborough and the surrounding  East of England region will benefit from training at the newly expanded Perkins Learning Centre. Opened by Minister for the East, Barbara Follett on 21st July 2008, the Centre will be available to local businesses, educational establishments and other organisations to help increase productivity of the region’s businesses.

Supported by an £825,000 grant from the East of England Development Agency (EEDA), Automation Technology features high at the new centre.  Facilities include a mini automated production line, a CNC and robotics suite and a virtual reality modelling facility to simulate shop floor environments.

Perkins’ investment and development of the business in Peterborough has been significant and, welcoming Barbara Follett to the Learning Centre, Perkins President ,Hans Haefeli, said: “Perkins has demonstrated a significant commitment to keeping and growing its manufacturing capability in this region. Our aim is to drive-up productivity, quality and profitability while taking research, development and process engineering to new levels. This will have enormous implications for us in respect of skills – both now and in the future. Through this partnership initiative and use of our world-class Learning Centre, we can effectively address the skills needs in a structured manner.”

Mr Haefeli explained that the newly opened Learning Centre would also enable Perkins to work with secondary, further and higher education establishments, to support relevant courses and rekindle an enthusiasm for manufacturing and engineering among local students.

The project resulted from strong partnership working between Perkins, EEDA, GO-East and the Learning and Skills Council (LSC). Working with local colleges the centre is also developing a range of courses designed to improve the literacy, maths and IT skills of Perkins employees and the wider community in Peterborough. 

Supplier partners including FANUC Robotics UK Ltd have further supported Perkins with its Learning Centre. A FANUC M-710i robot has been given to the centre by the Coventry based robotics business to familiarise students with programming techniques and preventative maintenance. 

Chris Sumner, Managing Director, Fanuc Robotics UK commented, “This is an important initiative by Perkins and benefits the region and the engineering sector in general. To maintain the UK’s high quality, value added manufacturing base, we need to increasingly develop skills in the production technology available. Perkins realises this is core to maintaining its competitive edge.”

Initiatives at Perkins have included OEMs’ support teams working on site with the Perkins’ teams to completely rebuild older equipment, and in the case of FANUC Robotics, annually taking two of Perkins apprentice’s to work at FANUC’s Coventry base for a four week period.