Associated Utility Supplies (AUS) Ltd thrive through partnership with University!
The University of Huddersfield plays a huge part in local business support, through multiple available services across the University departments.
AUS were introduced to the “Business Growth & Productivity Service” (BGPS) at the University of Huddersfield by their business coach. BGPS fronts the University’s wide variety of business support services and is made up of two key programmes within Leeds City Region: The Supply Chain Programme and The Manufacturing Champions Programme.
An initial meeting between AUS and the University established several areas in which the University had academics with relevant research knowledge, matching the needs of AUS. As a result, an initial project was identified from a list of potential product development activities.
KNOWLEDGE TRANSFER PARTNERSHIP #1
To support the project, a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) submission was made, awarded, and a University of Huddersfield Masters student was appointed as their KTP Associate.
October 2016 marked the date of one of eight successful projects between AUS and The University of Huddersfield. Through the School of Computing and Engineering, AUS and The University of Huddersfield began their enduring partnership with a KTP, with Mechanical engineering graduate, Harvey Kangley.
As a result, this generated success with an award at the prestigious KTP Best of the Best 2020 ceremony, and AUS developed a revised business strategy focussing on growth through product innovation, embracing a range of novel high value products. The original KTP Associate (Harvey Kangley) is now an employee and their Product Development and Innovation Manager.
Having been a student at the University of Huddersfield myself, I couldn’t really have asked for more support from when I started, through my KTP and through to now. The resources from the School of Computing and Engineering that we have had access to have been really helpful and have allowed us to design, test, and create some great new products. As well as that, the help from individuals such as Professor Simon Barrans and our KTP associate Greg Jones has been invaluable in getting us to where we are now, particularly with the two FoaK projects – Harvey Kangley, Product Development & Innovation Manager.
FIRST OF A KIND PROJECT #1: COMPOSITE BRIDGE
Approved in May 2020, AUS embarked on a further project through the funding of Innovate UK, the support of the University and Harvey Kangley to develop a FRP (fibre reinforced polymer) composite bridge, targeted initially at the rail sector. The AUS innovation has the potential to be transformational regarding the future growth of the business. This demonstrated how proven technologies could be integrated into a railway environment for the first time and aimed to encourage innovation in the industry through the use of novel technologies and innovative uses of data.
FIRST OF A KIND PROJECT #2: SPAN WIRE CLAMP
May 2020 also introduced an additional first of the kind project lead by Professor Simon Barrans for the University of Huddersfield and Harvey Kangley for AUS – an impressive announcement, due to two first of a kind projects awarded within a year, being a rarity.
KNOWLEDGE TRANSFER PARTNERSHIP #2
In August 2020, AUS and The University of Huddersfield’s partnership continued through a second University of Huddersfield KTP associate, Greg Jones, along with the support of The University’s School of Computing and Engineering, Marie Claire Micuta and Professor Simon Barrans, the KTP was appointed to work on the two “First of a Kind” projects for Network Rail.
SUPPLY CHAIN PROGRAMME PROJECT #1
Whilst AUS is very strong from the technical perspective and had a very clear strategic need for future growth, they were lacking in a range of areas to support this, including the need for a clear 3-year growth plan and action plan for the next 12 months (both of which would cover all aspects of the business) with a strong focus on “marketing” to create opportunities for the “sales” function. In September 2020, the LCR Supply Chain Programme and advisor Rob Woollin was next on the list to help AUS and their journey towards further success.
The broader needs of the business were discussed with Managing Director, Simon Gibson and a project was developed; based on this work they applied for a grant to support them.
The business would benefit significantly by engaging a consultant to support and challenge the in-house team to develop a business strategy and marketing strategy or to develop the marketing content once the strategy is developed.
A clear and well thought through marketing strategy and associated marketing activity plan was essential to realise the growth ambition of AUS. Development of a 3-year growth plan (covering financials, operations, people, sales & marketing) is vital as is a plan to prioritise projects for the next 12 months to achieve this growth. In addition, AUS require the development of a Customer Journey Map embracing the stages of awareness, consideration, decision, design and manufacturing, delivery, retention, and referral. A key focus area is marketing scoping (in terms of actions, timescales, budgets, resourcing and measurables), creation of content, schedule, structure, and client persona activity.
This project was approved on the 8th of September 2020 for a grant project. Lisa Lister of Progress Marketing was selected to support them, the contract was completed.
MANUFACTURING CHAMPIONS PROGRAMME #1
In October 2020, AUS celebrate a successful application with the Manufacturing Champions, business support programme, with the support of advisor, Don McCombe. The grant was developed following discussions, as it is recognised that AUS needs to strengthen their digital presence across all platforms.
SUPPLY CHAIN PROGRAMME PROJECT #2
After approval the work with AUS continued and they applied for a further Supply Chain grant. A further project with the Supply Chain Programme and advisor Rob Woollin, was undertaken in November 2020, with a focus on COVID recovery.
The grant was for a specific tooling system to allow the company to increase productivity after winning contracts based on the work by Lisa.
AUS had been awarded a prestigious new contract from Network Rail to be the sole supplier and manufacturer of a new electric cantilever that will lead to a replacement programme across the entire electric network. To meet demand, the new product needed to be assembled on-site. For this to happen, a new tool was required that had been manufactured by a subcontractor.
MANUFACTURING CHAMPIONS PROGRAMME #2
A second contract with the MC Programme is now in development with lead advisor Don McCombe. AUS would like to move into the ecommerce sector driven in part by the recent pandemic. Currently, traditional sales are affected due to lack of face-to-face meetings, exhibitions and conferences, and the desire to increase the digital sales opportunity is at an all-time high. Rather than just forge ahead with web design, a FULL marketing strategy needs to be encountered to look at all aspects and ensure a high-ranking position for AUS using all digital platforms. Northern Media was selected through three quotes to carry out this work.
We have really enjoyed our relationship with the University of Huddersfield and feel both parties have benefitted from the partnership. We’ve always found them very professional and genuinely excited about the innovation projects that we have carried out together – Simon Gibson, Managing Director at AUS.
If you require any further information on these projects, about the Supply Chain Programme, or other business support services / programmes by the University of Huddersfield, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Available related documents:
Knowledge Transfer Partnership 1, full case study: Huddersfield’s Harvey is a KTP Best of the Best winner – University of Huddersfield
First of a kind project 1, competition overview: Competition overview – SBRI rail demonstrations: first of a kind 2020 – Innovation Funding Service (apply-for-innovation-funding.service.gov.uk)
First of a kind project 2, feature article: University of Huddersfield collaborates with Associated Utility Supplies to improve level crossing safety | RailBusinessDaily
First of a kind project 2, feature article: https://www.hud.ac.uk/news/2020/august/ktp-rail-industry-innovations-aus/