Re-engineering a future for growth

Double university support helps to give company a competitive edge

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The Company

CWE Ltd, established in 1966, provides specialist, high-quality engineering solutions. The company specialises in safety-critical engineering for demanding environments, working with energy, rail and steel companies and their industry service providers. They provide a one-stop design, machining and fabrication capability for these industries.

The rail business is focussed on the aftermarket repair, refurbishment and manufacture of parts for rolling stock. CWE Ltd is the largest refurbisher of rail centre couplers in the UK, based at its dedicated Worksop facility.

The Challenge

As part of their core business activities, CWE Ltd currently undertake refurbishment of couplers taken from UK trains during routine maintenance. The amount of current business was limited by the number of couplers in circulation, so to enable the business to grow and increase turnover, it needed to be able to provide further solutions to its customers.

CWE image 1 coupler

CWE Ltd has a procedure for stripping down and overhauling couplers. However, due to wear or failure and the risk of corrosion, certain parts often need replacing, specifically the coupler bars which may require re- design and re-engineering. Several of their key rail customers had already expressed a need for solutions.

CWE Ltd wanted to be able to offer a rigorous engineering solution, which they felt would significantly improve their growth potential. In 2018, the company concluded that the end of permanent couplers can be refurbished and reused instead of being replaced by new ones, hence cutting down the cost massively.

However, the company needed specialist support to help develop efficient re-engineering methods, and support towards the cost of comprehensive design software.

The Solution

The company were enrolled onto the ERDF GTR TEM (Growth through Research for Transport Equipment Manufacturing) programme by the University of Derby, the programme’s leading partner. The company were then able to access support from researchers and academics at the University of Derby to help them develop and optimise their methods.

CWE image 2 coupler

In order to be able to model the effect of using refurbished anchors for couplers, the SME needed a CAD model to work with. The University of Derby suggested the use of SolidWorks software.

To enable the effective delivery of the technical package of work and the sharing of ideas digitally, the company was referred to and then approached The iNet at Loughborough University, the other partner in the GTR TEM programme, for grant funding towards the cost of SolidWorks design software and related hardware. This was approved and the company received the grant in time to complete the work with the University of Derby.

The Outcome

Example CAD drawing

Example CAD drawing

Using SolidWorks software, the ERDF TEM researcher from the University of Derby designed the coupler in different parts. The design started with the drawing provided by the client, followed by the additional measurements taken.

Once the various 3D CAD models were ready, the specific drawings with the necessary dimensions were provided to the client.

Using this project along with additional data, CWE Ltd was then successfully awarded a new contract with an OEM, whereby the SME will be in charge of the refurbishment of the anchor ends of the permanent couplers. This will help in reusing old parts in the railways industry instead of creating more metal waste.

Impact of the support and client testimonials

The client described the quality of support as excellent. Since engaging with the project, CWE has successfully been awarded a new contract with an OEM – this was an initial aim for engaging in the ERDF TEM project.

It’s made the difference. We are in a much better and stronger place as a result of wining this additional work.

Chris Brown - Managing Director

The new contract has led to additional jobs, increased turnover, and profit. Chris felt that although these impacts were not a direct result of Catalysing Growth, he felt that the coupler design work was a key factor in the award of the contract. The support has increased the knowledge and expertise within the company which will support its ongoing growth. He could not think of any ways in which the support could be improved.

Of all the projects I have done over the years, this is the one that has come to commercial fruition the fastest.

Chris Brown - Managing Director
About the client

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Crowle Wharf Engineers Limited (CWE Ltd)
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