Sector Focus


Engineers are switching on to electric vehicle market

A Birmingham engineering firm has launched a new division to take advantage of the growing popularity of electric vehicles. The new division is Adi Vehicle

Task master: Ron Lee

Former JLR boss to lead auto task force

One of the world’s top motor industry executives is to head up a West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) taskforce aimed at boosting skills in the automotive sector. Former Jaguar Land Rover

director Ron Lee has been named chairman of the WMCA’s Automotive Skills Taskforce, which aims to equip local people with the skills that the sector needs to adopt emerging new technologies. Mr Lee has had a 35-year career

in the automotive sector, including a 17-year spell as global director of Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) Powertrain Engineering. He left JLR in 2018 and now

advises companies on strategy, key decisions, technical structures and methods to manufacture new products. Mr Lee said: “The West Midlands

is the centre of automotive employment in the UK and the industry has a huge economic impact in the region and nationally. “The sector is making

unprecedented changes in technology as it responds to the demands of competing globally in a low-carbon, low-emissions, autonomous, connected and highly automated transport industry. “Having enjoyed a fascinating

35-year career in the automotive industry, I believe it’s crucial that others can reskill to enjoy a long, rewarding career and young people are able to thrive in this brilliant, technologically challenging sector.” Councillor George Duggins,

leader of Coventry City Council and WMCA portfolio holder for productivity and skills, said: “Automotive businesses in this region employ 28 per cent of the UK’s overall automotive workforce – the vast majority within the supply chain. “We need to make sure that the

region’s automotive businesses have the chance to upskill and reskill staff to remain competitive globally and help attract investment.”

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Charging Solutions (VCS), part of Kings Norton-based Adi Group. Its focus will be installing and maintaining electric vehicle charging stations and the infrastructure associated with this. The UK has seen a huge increase

in the number of electric cars on the road, with registrations this year up by 144 per cent this year and 23 new models set to enter showrooms in 2020. Adi VCS divisional director

Kenneth Green said: “The set-up of this division is timely for a number of reasons. Firstly, we’ve already made huge inroads by signing up some of the biggest charge point manufacturers in Europe. “Couple this with the fact that

most car manufacturers have fully committed to hybrid or electric models in the next years, and you have the foundations for a solid growth plan. “We’re also seeing more and

more councils, businesses and land developers calling for electric vehicle charging points, as thousands of motorists choose to opt for plug-in vehicles up and down the country.”

Kenneth Green: Getting on board the electric vehicle bandwagon In the last two years, Adi has

formed a number of alliances with others working in the field of electric vehicle charging. This includes Franklin Energy, a

charging point operator which manages in excess of 300 sockets across the country. “It wants to grow its network to

more than 3,000 charging points by the end of next year, with Adi playing a major role in its installation and maintenance. “Our partnerships with these

alliances, which are key infrastructure specialists in the UK, really set us on a course for the future, enabling us to do everything from supply, design installation, maintenance and operation,” said Mr Green. “We are currently working with a

number of blue chip companies, energy suppliers, big name retailers, fleet operators and everything in between, so I’m positive this is a business that is only set for huge expansion in the future.”

5G needs infrastructure support

The UK boss of engineering, architecture and construction firm Burns & McDonnell has called on the energy sector to recognise the importance of developing the right infrastructure, or risk the rollout of the super-fast 5G network being hindered. Speaking at the Future Networks conference in Birmingham, Jonathan Chapman (pictured), managing director of the firm, issued the warning in the wake of the UK government’s decision to move forward with the 5G network. He said that while the focus of the

rollout should be on keeping costs down, 5G could be hampered by slow infrastructure deployment. He said: “Given the fact that the

density of infrastructure required for 5G is three to five times that of current 4G technology, infrastructure needs to be developed as efficiently and cost effectively as possible to keep costs low for consumers. “If not, people will be left disappointed by the

service they receive and the costs they are required to bear. “As a company we’re at the forefront of

developing and deploying the technology that’s going to decrease emissions, and 5G technology is absolutely critical to that. It can generate real

advancements and savings in the journey to net zero. But we’ve got to get the infrastructure that enables that technology right.” Mr Chapman stressed that investment was needed

to enable private companies to develop and deploy the infrastructure that would allow 5G to become integrated quickly and in line with consumer expectations. He said that regulation was one of the biggest factors in why Europe was lagging behind North America, North East Asia and Australia when it comes to 5G rollout. He added: “There is currently a lack of spectrum in the UK and regulators continue to argue that ‘wait and see’ is a reasonable approach to implementing 5G. The technology is not currently viewed as a critical part of our infrastructure by

regulators, and that must change.” “5G deployment must sit as part of a whole

system approach to energy that brings together all solutions, including hydrogen, micro-modular, reactors, electricity distribution, network transmission, to solve the net zero challenge.” Mr Chapman was attending the conference to

discuss how the energy sector should reduce carbon emissions, among other things.

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