From its formation as a division just eight years ago, Ricardo Performance Products has grown from a specialist niche-volume maker of performance driveline products to a high-quality manufacturer offering a full range of engineering capability, across sectors ranging from automotive to defence vehicles. Manufacturing industry commentator Will Stirling describes how the Performance Products team is now using its advanced manufacturing expertise in a new engineering consultancy service
With rapid changes in technology, industrial engineering is becoming more demanding in both product variance and performance demands. Companies may suddenly need several thousand units of the latest great idea, very quickly, and lack the immediate resources to deliver it. A ‘can do’ attitude, coupled with the necessary capacity and skills, is what is needed – and this is where Ricardo Performance Products comes in.
Ricardo Performance Products manufactures and assembles low-volume, high-quality pre-production and niche volumes of complex engine, transmission and vehicle products which have either been designed by Ricardo’s Technical Consulting arm or often, by the client. Customers vary but are typically blue-chip brands with substantial, high-value projects to be realised – such as the manufacture of a dual clutch transmission driveline or a high specific output turbocharged engine for some of the world’s fastest and highest performance road cars.
It’s a business that boasts an impressive track record across multiple sectors – from motorsport transmissions, to monorail drivelines, or from specialist military vehicles to components for the world’s leading aerospace manufacturers. The challenges can be immense: just a few years ago, Ricardo Performance Products was tasked with building an improved IEDresistant vehicle to operate in the most demanding military conditions. It was designed as a light protected patrol vehicle and was intended to replace the Land Rover, but with significantly enhanced capabilities in the field.
The vehicle had over 5000 separate parts, and the supply chain had to be built from scratch and approved by the UK Ministry of Defence. Highly complex sub-assemblies, where all vehicle systems had to be approved and integrated line-side to the unique vehicle assembly line, were developed at Ricardo. Additionally, Ricardo had the responsibility to train the customer’s prime OEM in all the various assembly steps while still ensuring a fully tested and validated vehicle rolled off the production line every four hours. The completed product had to be concealed from public sight and delivered to the customer every day, Monday to Friday – and in total, 380 service-ready units had to be ready for deployment in 27 months from contract award, with a ramp-up built in.
These multiple challenges were met to the extent that the customer, the UK Ministry of Defence, remarked that the resulting Foxhound was “the best military vehicle off road performance ever experienced”. It was delivered on time in-full, and on budget, in just over two years from clean sheet. This high-profile manufacturing success
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