A legacy of excellence
By striving to deliver innovative products for a variety of needs, The Ford Engineering Group has managed to remain a competitive market leader for more than a century
In 1910, and at the relatively young age of 29, Robert Ford established his own business, Ford & Co. in the North East of England. Over one hundred years later and his legacy lives on in the form of The Ford Engineering Group. A multi-award winning corporation, it today specialises in the machining and pressing of components and assemblies for the aerospace, automotive and related high-technology industries.
A celebrated name within the precision engineering industry, The Ford Engineering Group is divided into two separate manufacturing companies, as well as one separate, distinct product division; Ford Aerospace, Ford Components and Ford Laminated Products. “Over the past century, the business has grown steadily by responding to our customer’s needs, increasing our own capabilities and being prepared to invest in the future,” begins Group Managing Director, Chris Ford. “Throughout it all we have remained very much a family-owned, family-run business that has its roots firmly entrenched within the local community.”
When it comes to the companies that make up the larger group, Ford Aerospace emerged after the group entered into the industry in 1982, producing high precision shims for various OEMs. In the years since, it has continued to invest and develop its high precision machining capability in order to produce the highest quality components and complete assemblies to aviation customers around the globe.
Ford Components, meanwhile, was born out of the original 1910 business and is responsible for manufacturing a huge variety of pressed, stamped,laser cut and formed components for a range of industries. The experience and knowledge gained over last 100 years means that the company can provide cost effective manufacturing methods to produce spacers, gaskets, shims, core plugs, tab washers, spring disks and more. It has also perfected its own range of adjustable or peelable products that are marketed under the Ford Laminated Products name, branded Ford Easipeel, Plasipeel and Edgepeel.
Like most SMEs, The Ford Engineering Group is not immune to the peaks and troughs in business experienced by its core customers, however, 2017 has been a particularly positive year with a strong order book across both companies. It helps, of course, that the group’s long and distinguished history enables it to continually provide the most timely and pertinent solutions to support its latest customer requirements. Ford promotes its number one value as aiming to reduce the stress on the supply chain of the OEM and ensures that all its activities support this.
With business on the rise, now is also the perfect time for the group to continue to push forward with what it considers to be one of its biggest strengths, which is its ability to provide a complete supply chain solution. “This capability is going to become ever more important in the coming months and years,” Chris explains. “As the industry becomes more constrained by capacity, OEMs will be less inclined to have to purchase thousands of different part numbers, preferring instead to focus on sub-assembly solutions. Thanks to a combination of our infrastructure and experience , and our long standing-relationships with an extremely capable supply base, we are able to meet such expectations by carrying out tasks like material procurement, subcontracting and management and product testing. Within the aerospace sector we can not only purchase complete parts, we can also sub-assemble and deliver ready-to-fit kits, and this is something we ultimately want to offer to a wider client base.”
With a history so intrinsically linked with the local community, and with Britain as a whole, it is understandable that Chris and his family are incredibly passionate about both retaining and growing British manufacturing excellence in the future. One of the most important ways of achieving this is through the future proofing of the industry. To that end, the group was very proud to announce the relaunch of the Ford Engineering Academy (FEA) in September 2017.
“The relaunch of the FEA is hugely important for ourselves and key to the continuation of high tech manufacturing in the North East,” Chris enthuses. “Through the FEA we offer a Level 2 Performing Engineering Operation qualification and, just as importantly, work readiness in the form of a four-week placement at a local engineering company. From over 50 applicants, we have selected 32 trainees, each of whom will be given the opportunity to begin a career in our field.”
When Chris is asked about what the immediate future holds for The Ford Engineering Group, growth is very much on the agenda. “This is a big thing for us,” he states. “We have the capacity both internally and within our known supply chain to expand and increase our offerings to customers. We know what our strengths are, and we offer products that are an ongoing requirement across a number of industries. What this means is, while we do not have any grand plans to get into anything completely different, we are conscious of the need to remain aware of future technologies and market opportunities. It is something we have proven expertise in and by continuing along this path we anticipate growing further as a business, hopefully taking a few of our partners along for the ride at the same time.”
The Ford Engineering Group
Services: High precision engineering