North West Regional College’s (NWRC) Business Support Centre (BSC) and Mechanical and Electrical Contracting Specialists, AE Global, are celebrating the completion of a 2.5 year Innovate UK and Invest NI funded Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) project, which has seen the project being awarded an “Outstanding” assessment by InnovateUK.
The collaborative project, supported Mechanical and Electrical Contracting Specialists, AE Global, to develop a unique business and process management platform called DELA (Database of Engineering and Logistical Analytics), with help from North West Regional College’s (NWRC) Business Support Centre (BSC). The intelligent IT database system tracks and monitors complete workflow from design and manufacture through to installation and commissioning.
Dr Fergal Tuffy, Technology Innovation Manager at NWRC’s BSC said: “AE Global are an award winning manufacturer and provider of Mechanical and Electrical (M&E) services who specialise in the fabrication of bespoke piping systems for the pharmaceutical, oil and gas and allied chemical sectors. While AE Global are at the cutting edge of their sector, they had the vision to explore ways in which they could incorporate the latest developments in IT and computing into the business to help them to expand and compete more effectively on a global scale.
“Knowledge Transfer Partnerships enable businesses to access highly qualified graduates and the knowledge that exists in the 3rd level sector such as ourselves at the NWRC to spearhead new projects and take their business forward with innovative solutions to help their business grow, and AE Global is a prime example of this. We recruited an excellent graduate in Stephen McClay and he worked as part of the AE Global team, under the supervision of NWRC supervisors Teresa Deeney and Cathal Ferry, to develop a cutting edge solution for AE Global.”
Commenting on the success of the project, AE Global Operations Manager Mark Sweeney said, “AE Global approached NWRC with nothing more than an idea. We had the foresight to know that our idea would work, but absolutely no idea of where to begin or how to implement it. From the first meeting, and our introduction to the Knowledge Transfer Partnership, our idea quickly became a plan. The quiet expertise displayed by the team, quickly gave us the confidence that we could actually achieve our goal.”
He continued: “AE Global’s aim is to utilise the DELA system to continually improve our efficiencies by up to 20%. This will be achieved, mainly, by having access to real time data which tracks the workflow from receipt of material, fabrication, testing, shipping and finally installation. This will lead to greater stock control and traceability of the final product and all of its component parts. It will also lead to improved efficiencies in fabrication due to the increased ability to track the performance of the workshops in real time. These efficiency savings will allow us at AE Global to be more competitive in our contract bids and to provide our clients with a more professional package, leading to more contracts.”
Upon receipt of the “Outstanding” grade Dr Tuffy said, “All KTP projects involve the completion of a final report that reflects on the success of the project based upon its original aims and projects the impact on the business. As well as the successful implementation of the cloud-based DELA system AE Global’s business has grown significantly, during the project. AE Global also provided numerous opportunities for student placements from NWRC and we are very grateful for this. It allowed our staff the opportunity to apply their knowledge to a cutting-edge industry project and when the final report was assessed by InnovateUK’s independent panel they awarded it a top rating, “Outstanding”, which we are very proud of.“
“I think this project has shown the power of industry-academic collaboration. AE Global has the strategic vision and we were delighted to support them through the project. NWRC’s Business Support Centre assists businesses with training and skills development, technical mentoring and industry research and development and I’d encourage other companies to talk to us to see if we can help their businesses either through upskilling of their staff or by developing new products and systems such as this.”
Des Gartland, Invest NI’s North West Regional Manager said: “The KTP Programme is an integral part of Northern Ireland’s business ecosystem with over 650 local companies already participating in the Programme with Queen’s University, Ulster University, the Further Education Colleges and CAFRE. This collaboration between AE Global and NWRC is a fantastic example of how innovation through a KTP can help a business solve a problem and bring a project to life. I would encourage local companies to contact Invest NI and find out how a KTP can best support your business.”