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Penny Hydraulics | Finalists at the Manufacturer MX Awards!

Penny Hydraulics | Finalists at the Manufacturer MX Awards!


Chesterfield based lifting equipment manufacturer Penny Hydraulics, continue their run of success as they are named as finalists in the “Partnership with Education” category of the Manufacturer MX Awards. The company collected the award at a prestigious ceremony held at the Vox Centre, Birmingham on November 2nd, 2016. In what’s proving to be a fantastic year for the company, this is the 6th industry award they have collected this year. Other accolades include, “Business of the Year”, “Family Business of the Year” & “Business Improvement Through Technology 2016.”

The Manufacturer MX Awards were developed in 2015 when two existing awards programmes merged: The Manufacturer of the Year Awards, run by The Manufacturer and the Manufacturing Excellence (MX) Awards, run by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE). The awards comprise of an awards ceremony and a rigorous programme designed to provide valuable business improvement advice and feedback from an expert panel of judges. Companies and individuals of all sectors and sizes are eligible to enter and there is a category to suit many different achievements including Innovation and Design, to Supply Chain Excellence.

The judging process comprises of a written submission of 10 statements which companies self-assess against and provide written evidence for. In addition, the judges take part in site visits to all shortlisted companies. Finally, a review day for the judges takes place, before each winner is selected. All entrants benefit from constructive and confidential feedback that can be used to support the company’s or individual business improvement. After the awards ceremony, this feedback is written into an Assessment and Business Improvement Report tailored to each company.

Penny Hydraulics, a Derbyshire based SME specialising in vehicle mounted cranes and industrial goods lifts, were shortlisted as finalists in the awards “Partnership with Education Category” and Jess Penny, General Manager of Sales collected the certificate and prize at the ceremony, amongst some of the largest names in manufacturing including; McLaren Automotive Ltd, Siemens, Leyland Trucks, GE Aviation and Caterpillar NI Ltd.

Penny Hydraulics pride themselves on their work at all levels of education to promote careers in Science, Technology, Engineering & Maths (STEM) and the promotion of engineering as a brilliant and exciting career starts at an early age with school visits from primary schools. One such visit was by Deer Park Primary School. On Tuesday 11th November, a group of children from Deer Park Primary School in Chesterfield visited the Penny Hydraulics as part of “Made in Chesterfield Week” from the 10th – 14th November. The event celebrated the Manufacturing industry in North Derbyshire which Penny Hydraulics are proud to be a part of.

The visit was planned as an enjoyable and educational experience for the pupils. General Manager, Jess Penny explains “The visit was a great success and a brilliant example of how engaging with schools can help to promote careers in STEM. Following the day, a competition was arranged for the children. They had to draw upon their experience at Penny Hydraulics and design and draw or model a crane of their own design. The competition was then judged by the Penny Hydraulics staff and the winners were announced on Penny Hydraulics website.”

The company’s MD has been the Chair of Governors at the local school, Hodthorpe Primary School for over 10 years. Robin explains, “The governing body is responsible for the strategic direction of the school being a critical friend to the senior management team.” Robin and the other Governors hold the main responsibility for finance in the school and work with the head teacher to make tough decisions about balancing resources in the best interests of the pupils. Robin continues, “I also use my position to make sure that the STEM subjects are given the prominence that they deserve in the school and use the company resources to assist in relevant activities hosted by the school.”

The company’s promotion of careers in STEM is not solely restricted to children at Primary school level. Around 5 work experience placements are offered per year and typically it is the pupils from the village school, Heritage High School, Clowne that take these placements. The company also have an involvement with Chesterfield College and sponsor and present awards at their annual "Celebration of Achievement" event hosted by their Engineering Department.

Penny Hydraulics also have an established apprenticeship scheme taking on up to 5 apprentices per year from the Bolsover District. Robin comments “Our apprentices get a wide breadth of experience whilst here, be it machining, assembly, fabrication, testing or dispatching goods. Apprentices do not just stay within the factory walls, they get out on site with our engineers. Just this week, one of our apprentices Sam has been installing lifting equipment in Birmingham Cathedral, refurbishing a portcullis at Birmingham Law Courts and working in our factory on a chandelier winch system which will be installed in Buckingham Palace! Not bad experience!”

The company actively engage with other schools and resource providers for children of Secondary School age to promote careers in STEM. Jess explains, “I have contacted schools such as North Lindsey College to publish stories about talented engineers and superb role models that went through their school system and encouraged them to publish this on their college homepage. We also contribute to websites like "Tomorrows Engineers" providing case studies to help those considering a career in engineering.”

At University level, the company also play their part. For almost a decade, Penny Hydraulics has been heavily involved with Sheffield Hallam University as part of their Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) Scheme. Robin explains, “This has enabled us to offer valuable industry experience to engineers with little or no practical experience and recruit high calibre graduates to run well-defined projects within our company.” The company have some fantastic KTP success stories, most notably, young engineer, Simon Pykett who had a huge impact on Penny Hydraulics Nuclear business and secured a permanent role on completion of the KTP. Simon now heads up the Penny Nuclear division, which has expanded rapidly.

A further connection the company has with Universities, is that MD, Robin Penny sits on the Industrial Advisory Board at Sheffield Hallam University. The advisory board is made up of knowledgeable and experienced business people from across the private and public sectors. They bring an external perspective to the Universities strategy, making sure they continue to be relevant to their students, business, public sector, third sector and the government. The company actively engage with the University and they use Penny Hydraulics engineers to take speaking slots in lectures and at events for current students, as part of their University course. Jess explains “Most recently James Fisher, our Design Engineer and former student at Sheffield Hallam Univerity, took a speaking slot at the University’s HeadStart Event. The event was aimed at delegates 16-18 years old considering a Hallam University Engineering Qualification.”

Further employees and Sheffield Hallam alumni such as General Manager of our Goods Lift division, Jocelyn Cole, also play an active role taking talks and taking part in networking events at the University. Penny Hydraulics sponsor the Mechanical Engineer of the Year award and present it to the most talented student each year at the University graduation ceremony. The company writes case studies in conjunction with the University about what former Hallam students are achieving in their field and these are published online as well as handed out within the University.

The company believe in working with colleges and universities to train their employees too. Jess explains “An example of us working with a University to develop a course to specifically meet the needs of our business is our work with The University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC). With AMRC we developed a unique 6 Sigma Lean Manufacturing programme for the whole company based on our precise needs. The programme consisted of a half day training session for all employees and then separate 2 days sessions and follow up sessions for management. Each session was developed specifically for the particular audience and had its own unique objectives. This programme was completed in June 2016 and the benefits for the whole company are clear and measurable.”

The company believe that their involvement with educational establishments can have a positive impact on helping students understand the opportunities for work in manufacturing. Robin explains “We have numerous employees that started with us on work experience placements from school or on apprenticeship schemes, who now work with us full time. Lee Brough came to us on a work experience placement from the village school, Heritage High School. Lee then went on to do an apprenticeship with us and has now progressed to be one of our most experienced crane installers. He has been with the company for 17 years.” Another great success story for the company is Gregg Proffitt. Gregg did an apprenticeship with the company and worked as a welder at Penny Hydraulics for many years and he is now a welding instructor at Chesterfield College.

Penny Hydraulics are set to build on their success and continue their excellent work with educational establishments at all levels. Work on a £1.5M site development at their Clowne premises is well underway. The new facility, which is set to open in Q1 2017, will create 10 new job opportunities within the next 2 years along with an increased number of apprenticeship places. Jess comments on the award success stating, “We are absolutely delighted to make it to the finals of the MX awards. To compete against such huge players within our industry and make it this far just goes to show, it’s not just the big blue-chip companies that should act to bridge the skills gap...we can all do our bit.”

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