Testing specialist AB Dynamics (ABD) has moved critical machinery to its recently constructed facility in Bradford-on-Avon, UK, and has provided an insight into some of the challenges it had to overcome when moving highly sensitive test equipment and dealing with complications arising from the Covid-19 pandemic.
Following the completion of the £9m (US$12.7m), 39,000ft2 manufacturing facility in 2017, the company quickly outgrew the site, with the employee headcount doubling over the past four years. With more space becoming a necessity, ABD made the decision to build an Engineering Design Centre next door to the testing firm’s current site.
Due to the nature of AB Dynamics’ work as a testing company and the specialist equipment needed to conduct a multitude of tests and trials, the relocation was a test for AB itself. How do you best move 15 state-of-the-art machines, from one building to another – with zero downtime?
AB’s day-to-day work includes prototype design, and the production of robotics systems, ADAS targets and automotive testing and measurement hardware equipment, all of which needed to make the small yet significant journey to the adjacent building.
Originally the move was set for December 2020 but was delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. During this period AB Dynamics continued conducting tests, but with a skeleton team to ensure it complied with government-imposed health and safety regulations. Eventually April 2021 was set as the move date, with company partner and specialist machinery move services company IES selected to carry out the task of moving the equipment, which together weighed a total of 20 metric tons.
“Fifteen years working with the same partner means they understand our business and what we need. And when you have grown as quickly as we have, this shorthand understanding enables machinery moves to be carried out with the minimum of fuss,” commented Andy Newman, UK facilities maintenance manager, AB Dynamics.
“They know AB Dynamics, and we’ve always been happy with their work. If we have any issues, they are always there to support, which is exactly what we look for in a partner. It has been a significant benefit for our business to have this level of continuity and partnership with IES.”
With many years of factory relocations and having regularly packed and transported AB Dynamics’ 17-metric ton Suspension Parameter Measurement Machines (SPMM) from the factory floor to customers, the equipment was in good hands. The SPMM is a vehicle kinematics and compliance (K&C) test machine, used for the simulation of on-road vehicle behavior with the highest possible measurement precision. It was of course, imperative to move such heavy, yet delicate, machinery carefully.
The first phase consisted of moving comparatively small equipment, including 2- and 3-axis CNC mills, a CNC Turning Center, a fume extraction system and a pair of CNC and manual lathes. Most notably, two CNC Machining Centers were relocated –weighing 4.2 metric tons and 2.6 metric tons, and measuring 13 x 9ft and 5 x 9ft respectively – both of which are critical to the company’s prototype and development work. Other equipment included grinders, bandsaws, blast cabinets and a CMM measuring machine, which were all moved and disconnected with the help of an IES electrician.
Following this, the larger equipment was moved while mitigating risk by using a skilled team of lorry and forklift drivers and movers to tackle a tight turning space on the main road, leading to a steep slope site entrance.
All of AB Dynamics’ equipment was disconnected, relocated and reinstalled over a five-day period without any damage or extra downtime. Careful planning and pre-move inspections enabled equipment to reach their final positions in the new Engineering Design Centre.
Christian Malpas, business development manager at IES, explained, “Our aim is always to ensure that our clients can focus on their operations with the firm knowledge and confidence that IES will deliver. AB Dynamics’ machinery is very specialist and critical to their operations, so we have learned over the last 15 years how best to approach our projects to minimize the impact equipment relocations have on them.”