Engineering Excellence To AS9100 Standards In First Level Safety Critical Fastener Production


As a manufacturer of first level safety critical fasteners for the aerospace, MOD, nuclear and marine industries, the key challenge for Arnold Wragg Ltd is to keep pace with ever increasing demand.

As a manufacturer of everything from hexagon bolts, countersink bolts, nut, locking nuts, studs, foundation bolts, socket head cap screws, machine screws, parallels and Gibb head keys, washers, tab washers, union nuts and much more, the AS: 9100 certified Sheffield Company has to ensure production equipment and staff is optimally productive, qualified and capable of meeting the ever evolving KPIs of the business. MTD magazine spoke with Managing Director Paul Brunton to get his take on staff, training and enthusing the next generation of engineers.

With a strong background in statistical analysis, six-sigma and lean manufacturing, under Paul’s stewardship Arnold Wragg has won a Queens Award and an employer of the year award for its apprentice programs. Paul and his team have taken the business back to basics with a strong emphasis on apprenticeships. Paul says: “Due to the high demand of aerospace fasteners, we need a highly-skilled work force and this involves sharing our knowledge with a new generation. We are currently working hand in hand with the local Sheffield City College, which has an intake of apprentices readily available to suit our demand. The college automatically enrolls student’s year around, taking learners from all different backgrounds with a variety of experiences. From this, we contact the college and the tutors have a full tour of our factory, we show them our apprentice structure, the working environment, the trainers and the various sections they will get involved with and current job vacancies we are looking to get them involved with.”

The Arnold Wragg apprenticeship program started 8 years ago with two apprentices; and Paul is keen to emphasize that employing apprentices is a social responsibility for manufacturers as much as it is an opportunity to employ and train enthusiastic teenagers. The Sheffield Company now has 25 staff with more than 50% either on apprentice programs or undertaking further education.

Referring back to the employment process, Paul says: “With a full tour given to the students, we move to the interview stage. As a daunting prospect for apprentices, we use younger staff to conduct interviews. During our last intake, we interviewed 3 apprentices, showed them around and allowed them to spend some time with their trainers so they can have the sense of day to day life at Arnold Wragg.  After shaking hands and letting them think it is over, we offered all three a placement under our new scheme.”

“We employed Declan Reeves-Jones, Curtis Warrender and Mathew Waterhouse with each allocated different duties. Declan and Mathew’s scheme will entail studying a PEO Level 2 in Mechanical Manufacturing at Sheffield City College. These learners will be shown how to use a manual lathe, mill, hand filing, assembling parts, using manual pillar drills, reading drawing, PPE, Health and safety in the workplace and understand cutting tools. Whereas Declan will be on the CNC machines, Mathew will be taken down the inspection route. His trainer will be Daniel Sadler, an experience machinist that has recently completed his Level 2 Qualification in Team Leadership. Mathew will be inspecting the work. He will be monitored by the Quality Manager, Liam Carter, who himself has currently obtained an Internal Audit Qualification. It will give the learner knowledge of first-off Inspection, FAIR reports, batch releases and stage inspection.”

But the learning doesn’t end with apprentices, as Paul continues: “The other trainers at Arnold Wragg are the current Sales Manager, Glenn Howard. He is undergoing a Level 5 Diploma in Leadership and Management. This will allow him to hone the management and leadership skills he has. His qualification is fully work based and he will have to provide evidence of his working abilities. His course is monitored by a mentor and he needs to demonstrate his knowledge and the relation to his actions at work. Also doing the ILM level 5 Diploma in Managers and Leadership is Charlie Stothard, currently working part time on the machines and part time with the sales team. This will bridge the gap between production issues and sales relationships.”

In conclusion, Paul says: “Up-skilling our staff and brining new talent to our business is critical for our future success. Unlike the AMRC and other high-profile facilities in Sheffield, we are a humble subcontractor that operates everyday CNC machine tools. We cannot offer learners the same opportunities as the globally renowned OEMs on our doorstep, but we are proud that we play a critical role in training the next generation of engineers. As an engineer, I understand that we need to start with the fundamental basics. This includes the simple things like getting out of bed and being on time for work, being able to stand on the duck boards for 8 hours and having the capacity to learn in a fast-moving business that offers exciting opportunities for young engineers.”