Partnership at the University of Wolverhampton breathes new ideas into ventilation company

The University of Wolverhampton has teamed up with one of the UK’s leading producers of ventilation solutions to breathe new ideas into its design development and production processes.

E Poppleton & Son, based in Colwyn Bay, has appointed a University Product Design Engineering graduate, Emma Hughes, through the Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) project.

Having been used successfully by a number of major manufacturing businesses, KTPs, which are supported by the government through Innovate UK funding, are designed to allow companies to utilise leading-edge technology and research within the academic sector to bring about cutting edge change within UK industry.

The partnership is also part-funded by the Welsh Assembly Government.

Emma has secured a three-year internship during which she will be working with Poppleton which specialises in the design, manufacture and installation of specialist ventilation ductwork systems, to extend the company’s Building Information Modelling (BIM) capabilities, drawing upon the expertise of University academics, Dr David Heesom and Amit Kaushik from the School of Architecture and Built Environment.

Emma, 22 from Conwy, Wales, who graduated in July 2019, has already made significant progress by transforming the current company database into BIM enabled digital data and implementing new processes to support design and manufacturing utilising a range of BIM software including Autodesk Revit.

Company engineers are now being trained to use the software to enable them to create information rich Building Information Models and engineering drawings for its ductwork.

Emma said: “The KTP has opened up numerous opportunities for me. I have completed multiple courses and qualifications while continuously improving my personal development along the way. These have improved my employability and will make me a more desired candidate in the future.

“I have been working alongside engineers on live projects throughout my time here in order to adapt the new system to suit their requirements. This has given me an insight into the profession and project management, and tied in with my Agile Project Management qualification. As far as my career aspirations go, I hope to continue my journey at E Poppleton & Son and feel that there is still room to continuously develop their systems and continue to progress my knowledge of the sector along the way.”

Tim Hopkinson, Director at E Poppleton & Son Ltd, said: “External clients have certainly been impressed with the new BIM capabilities and as a result the company has already won new contracts.

“Other exciting new approaches and emerging technologies are also being explored as part of the KTP. Emma is already in the process of implementing a transformational asset tagging system to track ductwork from factory to site to installation. This task is ongoing and she is currently evaluating a range of technological solutions, including smart phone apps to allow the company to track ductwork through the entire process.”

The team of academics at the University are also benefiting through working with Poppleton as the KTP project provides the ability to link research directly into a real world application.

Dr David Heesom from the University’s School of Architecture and Built Environment, said: “We are able to apply some of the latest technologies we have here in the School and see the benefits of these, but also identify areas where more research may be required and this helps us to roadmap our future research goals.

“Working on a project like this with such a forward looking company also provides us with real world case studies and examples which we can feed into our teaching, particularly on the Postgraduate BIM course, and this give a real context to lectures and tutorials.

“It is hoped this partnership will now support the company to win larger contracts, become a market exemplar in BIM for manufacturers and remain at the forefront of the ventilation sector.”

For more information about KTPs please contact the University of Wolverhampton Business Engagement team at: ktp@wlv.ac.uk.