Atlas Composites is an industry leader in the design and manufacture of composite structures for the aerospace, defense, satellite communications and motorsport industries located in Ilkeston, England. This year the company is celebrating its 15th anniversary in the industry. Lee Day, marketing manager at Atlas Composites, discusses the company’s focus on improving business practices to continue meeting industry standards. It is also publicly supporting a new train station in town to improve business in the local community.
How did you get involved in the composites industry?
My background is in marketing, having spent 10 years with a prominent design agency in the East Midlands. Atlas Composites was a former client of mine so effectively I made the jump from the agency side to client side.
What have you learned from working with composites?
I’ve learned a tremendous amount over the last 12 months. The composites industry is growing, driven by aerospace innovation and demand, which is extremely labor-intensive and meticulous. The industry is a very niche and close knit community – everyone seems to know everyone!
What makes Atlas Composites an important figure in the U.K. composite industry?
Currently we are one out of only four U.K. composites manufacturers to achieve AS9100 Rev C accreditation, which is a quality management standard issued by the International Standards Authority. We are currently working on improving our business strategies to earn 21st Century Supply Chains (SC21) bronze recognition, a program aimed at improving operational management through cost reduction and leaner production at aerospace companies.
Where is the most potential for composite growth?
I believe aerospace is an industry for composite growth—especially in the U.K.—for both commercial and civil products. The future of the aerospace industry is about efficiency and performance. By reducing the weight in a moving object, you reduce the power required to move it, which is a key driver in the growing popularity of carbon fiber with its stronger yet lighter anti corrosive properties. Demand for the next generation of composite aircraft will only increase as national carriers look to replace their existing aging fleets and oil prices escalate.
How can the U.K. manufacturing industry benefit from composites?
The U.K. can absolutely benefit from composites. Our economy needs to focus on the type of high value manufacturing expertise that advanced composites manufacturing offers. The perfect example of this is the Next Generation Composite Wing (NGCW) program, a $160 million research project funded by the U.K. Technology Strategy Board and aerospace companies to create a fuel-efficient aircraft. NGCW will ensure the U.K. remains at the forefront of global aircraft wing technology of which composites are integral.