Josh Roles, Engineering Technician Team Leader at Ashwoods Electric Motors, joined the ranks of the Advanced Engineering Team at Innovation Valley from McLaren. Having been with the business for over half a year and already got hands on with visits to the Netherlands and Spain, it is fair to say Josh displays all of the core values we hold so dear at Ashwoods.

Josh started his journey at 17 in the Royal Navy. A helicopter engineer for six years, Josh continues to operate in a very ‘hands on’ role today as he runs the workshop at Innovation Valley, ensuring all projects are delivered on time and resources are appropriately allocated.

At McLaren, Josh was initially an engine builder for McLaren GT before moving into Formula 1, where he worked for three years.

“I don’t think you can imagine the fast-paced nature of the working environment and the pressure until you’ve experienced it yourself – and that is from someone who’s been in the military!”

As a mechanic in Fernando Alonso’s garage, Josh worked directly with motor racing royalty in the highest-octane environment, travelling all over the world thanks to the expansive global nature of the racing calendar.

Formula 1 is the pinnacle of motorsport and to be part of the team was fantastic with the camaraderie involved, through the good times and the bad. Those are memories I will have forever”.

Sitting at our award-winning office space in the Devonian countryside, in some ways Ashwoods couldn’t be further from motor racing. In other respects, it is not a million miles away.

“The innovation and knowledge base at Ashwoods is incredible. Everyone trusts each other and there is great scope for anyone in the business to drive ideas forward and make a real difference.”

Now actually able to enjoy weekends and Bank Holidays, Josh is finally enjoying catching up on some friends and family time – as he points out, it’s been non-stop travelling since he was 17!

Living in Exeter, in his spare time Josh is a keen road cyclist as well as enjoying any and all forms of sport.

Another ex-Formula 1 employee in the team at Innovation Valley… The pipedream of an Ashwoods-powered racing car edges ever closer.

 

Over the course of a glorious May Bank Holiday, members of the Ashwoods Electric Motors team (as well as some members of fellow Innovation Valley outfit, Lightfoot) took to the water as a boat trip was very kindly organised by the Senior Management team.

The brainchild of Managing Director, Lloyd Ash, and Engineering Sales Manager, Louis Coker, the excursion involved charting a vessel out of Port Hamble Marina for the team’s private use throughout the day.

After a fairly early start for most to get the coach from Innovation Valley to Hampshire, the team met up on the River Hamble at 09:30 and did not return to terra firma until 17:00. This being the Sunday, and therefore ‘middle day’ of the first May Bank Holiday, some of the party had partaken in festivities the previous day to the fullest extent. Therefore, the bacon sandwiches, pastries, hot drinks and orange juice available on arrival were a particularly welcome surprise!

With both a complimentary Pimms on the top deck and a safety briefing quickly dispatched, we were soon underway and enjoyed the views of the adjacent marinas, ports and countryside before reaching a designated jet ski area.

All members of the party were afforded the chance to use the jet skis which was one of the highlights of the day for many. Following this, lunch was served before a stop off to a public house near Beaulieu to rest the weary sea legs for an hour!

Back onboard after the pitstop, the boat meandered its way back towards Port Hamble, with dessert and more drinks on offer.

The weather held out on the Solent and it remained dry throughout, but there were enough rays of sunshine to punish those members of the party with fair skin and who were not as well versed in the ritual of sun protection as others. Overall, it was a hugely enjoyable day and thanks go to Lloyd and Louis for making this possible.

 

We are now officially in the season of Spring, so now seems an opportune time to review which blogposts and articles on our website were the most popular over the winter period. Ranked by number of views gained, here are the articles that made the prestigious top 5 for Winter:

 

  1. Noah – the world’s most circular car

Ashwoods are proudly the power behind a very special and sustainable car – Noah. A real success story for the business! If you missed out on learning about this fascinating project from our friends at the Eindhoven University of Technology the first time around, read more here!

 

  1. My Ashwoods Life: Iain Gillam

We sat down with our Project Manager, Iain Gillam, to talk about his Ashwoods experience so far as well as his hobbies and previous employment. We weren’t disappointed! A graduate of Imperial College London with a Master’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering, Iain worked on a championship-winning Formula One car with Mercedes, as well as competing in high level triathlons!

 

  1. Continued growth at Ashwoods Electric Motors

This is a piece we are particularly proud of. With all the fast-paced developments and growth of the business, it can be hard to appreciate just how far we’ve come in a short space of time. In this blogpost, we attempt to take a step back and truly reflect on just how impressive the rapid – and sustained – growth of Ashwoods Electric Motors has been over the past twelve or so months.

 

  1. Ashwoods Electric Motors’ global sales team

Our sales team get everywhere. Over the past few months, we have established presence, as well as ‘boots on the ground’, across the globe. In this piece, we profile each of our sales and support team, what they do and where they do it. From Europe to North America and Asia and with in-house linguistic skills, if there’s a country that doesn’t yet have an Ashwoods motor, they will do soon enough! If this article is of interest to you, why not also read this piece about a snapshot of the sales team’s customer visits?

 

  1. Ashwoods Electric Motors unveils the 200-100 IPM motor

Our first motor reveal of 2019 proved to be a popular one! The fourth generation of the IPM 200 series, the 200-100 is the largest motor in this series. With a distinctive ‘fin’ design and best-in-class technical capability, the newest motor out of Innovation Valley has a peak efficiency of 96% and a maximum speed of 7000RPM. The 200-100 can run continuously at 18kW and with a peak power of 42kW, will be focused on applications such as lift trucks, ground support equipment, excavators, aerial work platforms, lawncare products, two and three wheelers and golf cars.

Colyton Grammar School’s VEX robotics team, sponsored by Ashwoods Electric Motors, have made it to the national finals for the second consecutive year. The AimBot 622D Team again linked up with Innovation Valley-based Ashwoods Electric Motors to build on the successes of 2018.

The VEX Robotics Competition enables students interested in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects to enhance their skills and develops future engineers. The students are tasked with designing, building and operating a robot to compete in various challenges; testing teamwork, leadership and communication skills as well as the intricate engineering element.

After winning the Devon regional tournament without taking a single loss (as well as bagging the design award to boot), the team secured their place in the national final. Prior to the national championships, the team made some modifications to their robot to enable the placing of caps on tall posts. Unfortunately, this change rendered the robot less reliable than previously, so the team reverted to the original design and system for the first day of the competition. After day one, the students made one more minor alteration and added a middle set of wheels – thus allowing the robot to more easily climb onto platforms and, subsequently, bank points. They also worked iteratively to improve their autonomous code.

The team reaped the reward of these tweaks and had a very successful second day of the championship with a number of victories, before eventually bowing out at the quarter final stage in a hard fought 19-15 loss. From everyone at Ashwoods Electric Motors, we pass on our congratulations for progressing so far for the second year running. We now look forward to welcoming the students to Innovation Valley this Spring – the engineers of tomorrow meeting our engineers of today!

Ashwoods Electric Motors are pleased to announce that it is an IPM 200-33 that is the driving force behind Noah – the world’s most circular and sustainable car. Noah, built by a team of students at the Eindhoven University of Technology, features an Ashwoods motor and fully optimised drivetrain to provide ultimate performance and maximise efficiency.

Noah is an electric city car with two comfortable seats and spacious boot, possessing a top speed of 110 kilometres per hour and a total range of 240 kilometres. Built from bioplastic made from sugar and flax fibre, the chassis and interior are made of particularly strong sandwich panels. The body is made of flax mats that are injected with a bio-based resin. These biological and particularly light materials use up to six times less energy than usual lightweight car materials when produced. At the end of its life, Noah can be recycled with the bio-composite being ground and used as a raw material and the non-organic parts being included in the existing recycling chain.

In other words, Noah is completely sustainable and part of the world’s circular economy. According to a survey by the TU Eindhoven team, there is no other car on the road that has just as low an environmental impact over its entire life cycle, not even a prototype.

Noah is a wonderful piece of innovative, cleantech engineering, and we at Ashwoods Electric Motors are very proud that it is an interior permanent magnet motor produced at our high-volume manufacturing facility in the UK that is power behind it.

What seems like an age ago (or quite literally last year) the staff at Ashwoods Electric Motors were treated to a fantastic afternoon and evening of entertainment. On Friday 21st December, Exeter Fun Casinos came to Innovation Valley and very quickly turned the Ashwoods and Lightfoot offices into a casino.

They took great care of us by setting up blackjack, roulette, and wheel of fortune tables across both stories of Innovation Valley, while M Welsh Catering Services set up an outside bar and fantastic hot food offerings – Christmas themed of course.

Alongside sister company Lightfoot, each member of staff started the evening with a set amount of company-branded ‘money’ and its fair to say some fared better than others over the evening. Unconfirmed reports of high interest loans and a black market photocopying operation surfaced, with some experiencing the boom and bust of professional imaginary more intensely than others.

Buses were put on to shuttle people home safely, or into Exeter city centre to continue the festivities and celebrations on what is sometimes known as ‘Builder’s Friday’ in the UK, being the last Friday before Christmas.

On behalf of all staff, may I take this opportunity to say thank you to our Directors for making this fun evening possible. We are now refreshed and ready to hit the ground running in 2019!

As we start to wind down for the Christmas break at Innovation Valley it feels like the perfect time to review the most popular blog posts of this year. In what has been a seismic year for Ashwoods Electric Motors with our move to Innovation Valley (more on that later…) we have also seen our head count more than double and demand for our motors and engineering services continue to grow. As we head into the seasonal festivities, here are the most popular blog posts of 2018!

  1. New starter – Elliott Johnston

Starting our top 10 is a blogpost from way back in January, welcoming Elliott Johnston to the team. Elliott joined as a Design Engineer and is now a crucial part of the Engineering team at Ashwoods with a specific focus on the 120 series Interior Permanent Magnet motor.

  1. Ashwoods welcomes Daniele Vescovini to the team!

In the spring of this year we were very pleased to announce that Daniele Vescovini joined the Ashwoods Electric Motors team as European Sales Director. Covering Europe for the business from his base in Italy, Daniele has a wealth of experience in the industry, after spending over 15 years at C.F.R Srl covering markets all over the world.

  1. Ashwoods Electric Motors’ on-engine generator technology

The first technical article of the countdown, in September we published a post all about our on-generator technology and the upcoming Stage V regulations. If you happened to miss out on reading first time around then fear not as you can catch up here.

  1. Introducing Ashwoods Electric Motors’ stator production machine!

Way back in the summer, in the midst of the heatwave that gripped the UK, we introduced our stator production machine to the world. Our state-of-the-art stator production machine can wind up to six teeth simultaneously at 300rpm while the positioning of the wire can be controlled to 0.01mm and the automated ABB robot is accurate to 0.0mm – around the third the width of the average human hair.

  1. Working for Ashwoods Electric Motors

Coming in at #6 is the blog post all about us and why we’re a great place to work. Our Innovation Valley base has quirky offices and a cutting-edge production floor with brand new machinery. We’re putting manufacturing and engineering in Devon, and the wider south west, on the map and you can read more on why we’re a great place to be here.

  1. Innovation Valley is nearing completion

Over the spring, news and developments about our new facility were hot topics, so it is no surprise that one of these updates ranks at #5. Being published in early April the interest in the ‘big move’ was heating up, with this particular update bringing exciting news of the metric airline system, the roller Perspex shutter doors and the mezzanine installation within stores.

  1. Ashwoods welcomes Paul Sanders, Engineering Director, to the team!

Just missing out on a podium finish, but ranking very highly at #4 was the announcement that Paul Sanders joined the Ashwoods Electric Motors team as Engineering Director. Making the transition to Innovation Valley from McLaren where he was Technical Engineering Manager in Spain developing the P1 Hypercar, Paul previously worked extensively in Formula One racing and also at Bosch.

  1. Innovation Valley: We’re in our new offices!

Taking the bronze medal of most popular blog posts of 2018 is, somewhat unsurprisingly, another update about the ‘big move’. This article outlined our unique and award-winning office space, shared with sister company Lightfoot. If somehow you missed this on original publication in June, catch up here.

  1. Ashwoods IPM 120 motor is launched

Marginally missing out on top spot but proving one of the most popular blog posts of 2018 was our launch of the 120 series IPM motor. Complete with functional data, a concise history of the technology, performance curves and suggested applications, this post says all you need to know about the smaller, lighter and more efficient motor.

  1. A brief overview of IPM technology

Coming out as #1 is our article about the history of IPM technology from February. An informative and engaging article, looking back as far as the 1820s to the present day, it is not hard to see why this post proved so popular. Perhaps it will return in a different guise in 2019 – wait and see!

 

Ashwoods Electric Motors, the manufacturers of innovative electric motors are very pleased to announce their sponsorship of the 1st Chudleigh Scouts Group, and the completion of their first sponsored event!

1st Chudleigh Scouts run activities for children of all ages via their Beavers, Cubs, and Scouts network and are a long-standing part of the Chudleigh community. Scouts learn valuable skills through exciting activities such as: kayaking, climbing, outdoor skills, and many more.

The first event of this nature took place this December, with a sponsored abseiling session taking place at Haven Banks Outdoor Education Centre. The Scouts were treated to two hours of abseiling from varying heights up to 20 metres into the wintery sky above the Exeter Quayside. Those not quite ready to brave the wall watched on accompanied by hot drinks and mince pies as refreshments.

The evening of fun was made partially possible by the donation from Ashwoods Electric Motors, based in Chudleigh at Innovation Valley, along with some other generous sponsors and fantastic fundraisers. Manufacturing and Operations Director Chris Bew had this to say about the sponsorship:

“As a resident of Chudleigh, I know the incredible work the Scouts group does for local children and I am also aware of the problems with sourcing funding. To be able to ease that in the long term, not just on a one-off basis, is fantastic – especially as the business itself is now a part of the community.”

Chudleigh Scouts are currently looking for volunteers to support the group’s activities and further enhance their provision. Volunteering for Scouting is easier than you think, whether you can spare an hour a month or a day a year, and there are lots of opportunities both behind the scenes and working with young people. To find out more the group can be contacted via: secretary@1stchudleighscouts.org.uk

Harriet Creagan, Safety, Health and Environment Officer joins the Ashwoods Electric Motors team to oversee legislative compliance and to minimise the environmental impact of the business.

Harriet joins Ashwoods after spending around three and a half years at AnTech in a similar role, looking after Health and Safety as well as being part of the Quality team.

Before her move to the South West, Harriet lived in Australia for seven years – moving out there a matter of days after her graduation from the University of Birmingham, where she studied Geology.

“At the time they were so desperate for Geologists, I had a couple of phone interviews and before I knew it, I was on a plane!”

Over the course of her time in Queensland, Harriet spent 3 years at the (literal) coalface, working 300m underground down the mines.

“You’d come up after a morning’s work and be covered from head to toe in coal dust – you would have to go straight into the shower before heading back to the office. It’s actually quite nice working somewhere you don’t need to worry about the possibility of the roof caving in!”

Harriet made the decision, after having worked in industries centred around fossil fuels, to switch to a more environmentally-minded business. In Ashwoods she found a young and rapidly growing cleantech business, making a significant impact for customers and helping the environment.

“For me, Ashwoods is an environmentally-friendly, upcoming and dynamic business – just the sort of place I wanted to work.”

Harriet’s immediate focus is to develop the Environmental Management System to achieve ISO 14001 certification. In the longer term, Harriet will concentrate on getting Ashwoods ISO 45001 certified. Both of these projects involve working closely with our Head of Quality, Steve Fluhrer. Harriet will also be looking at the waste streams from Innovation Valley and how we can become more efficient and effective in the ways in which we dispose of the business waste.

Welcome to the team, Harriet!

Ayrton Rogers, Applications Engineer at Ashwoods Electric Motors, has somewhat deceptively been around the business for longer than most. Having been a member of staff for two and a half years, such is the rapid growth of Ashwoods, Ayrton’s tenure ranks him comfortably within the top ten longest serving members of staff (precisely eighth, by Ayrton’s mental arithmetic).

Originally part of the engineering team, as a Mechanical Design Engineer, Ayrton now sits within the Sales and Applications team as an Applications Engineer. As Applications Engineer, he liaises with Sales, Engineering and the Applications team to ensure all gaps in knowledge are filled.

Ayrton says his role has evolved and changed alongside the changing needs of the growing and pivoting business.

“When I first started, we didn’t sell motors at anything like the rate we do today. My first years I spent working on integrated engineering solutions primarily working on prototype work. For us to now be working in a high-volume manufacturing facility for IPM motors is really quite something!”

Reflecting on some constants that have remained throughout his time at Ashwoods, Ayrton points to the creativity and enthusiasm exuding from the top down. He points out that Ashwoods is a highly innovative business and no one else does what Ashwoods do, in the way Ashwoods do it.

“Just when you think we’ve done everything, someone comes up with another great idea which completely changes the whole game up again!”

Looking ahead, Ayrton says he is looking forward to continuing his learning and development at the forefront of the business. Away from the office, Ayrton is a keen racing driver and mechanic, and he explains his plans for the 2019 motorsport season.

“The Pickup is now in winter hibernation, while I am working on finishing the build of my car for next season, which starts in April. It’s had a new engine now which is much bigger, to compete in a new formula, putting out roughly 450BHP per Tonne.”

No doubt we’ll be checking in with Ayrton in 2019 to find out how the season is going!