0

Budding designers out in front thanks to top trailer maker


April 03, 2024 - 257 views

Four school pupils have come up with an innovative design for a new kind of industrial pallet which is set to be made into a prototype by the UK’s leading trailer maker.

The quartet from Denbigh High School won a top prize in a national engineering competition after creating the design from scratch in just a month.

Inspiration for the idea grew out of the partnership between their school and North Wales company Ifor Williams Trailers (IWT) which exports globally.

Manufactured at its six factories in Denbighshire and Flintshire, the Ifor Williams Trailers range is sold across the UK and Europe, and as far afield as Australia and New Zealand.

If the prototype stands up to tests and reaches a future production stage it is possible the boys design could also travel across the world.

The four young innovators credited their Product Design teacher, Thomas Turner, with helping them achieve their remarkable success.

Charlie Williams, Evan Thomas, Thomas Davies, all aged 17, and Cai Frith, 16, are all in Year 12, studying for A-levels at Denbigh High School.

Cai said: “Our tutor is brilliant. He definitely motivated us to produce the best design we possibly could. We didn’t only want it to be competition standard, we wanted it to be good enough to convince Ifor Williams that it has real potential.”

The team spent many hours creating and modifying their design before entering it into an annual Engineering Education Scheme Wales (STEMCymru) competition for schools across the nation. The competition asks entrants to design solutions to  real engineering problems faced by local industry.

Their hard work paid off when they won the Ian Binning Award, sponsored by Noddir Gan, for Best Use of Mechanical Engineering Principals in their design.

It was an even more remarkable feat given that rival schools who entered the prestigious competition had six months to work on their designs, while the Denbigh sixth formers had only four weeks.

Teacher Thomas Turner explained that the boys had been tasked with designing a state of the art stillage, which is a form of pallet, using mainly sustainable materials.

Putting their various skillsets and design heads together they came up with a pioneering metal pallet in a modular format which can be easily re-configured for different uses and adjusted to suit bespoke as well as standard parts.

Two members of IWT’s engineering team, James Rew and Rob Boncea, attended the competition final event with Denbigh High when the completed design was displayed on an exhibition stand.

Manufacturing Project Engineer James said everyone at Ifor Williams Trailers was hugely impressed with the boys’ ingenuity and enthusiasm for the task.

He said: “We’re all thrilled for them. They really deserved to win this award, they put so much thought and innovation into the task. They show great potential and have promising careers ahead. This was not an easy project but they showed great problem-solving skills and worked so well together as a team.”

IWT Manufacturing Engineering Manager Andrew Cooper said the boys’ design exceeded all the company’s expectations.

He said: “When pupils have inspirational teachers, as is the case here, young people and their schools can achieve great things. Our support of these young engineers of the future has been a pleasure.

“They are a great bunch of lads and we were not surprised that they worked so hard on the tasks we set them, but we did not expect them to really pull it out of the bag in the way they have.

“Their design was quite brilliant, so impressive that we are absolutely considering using it as the basis for a prototype with the aim of eventually developing it for everyday use in industry. The design they came up with really is that good, a credit to them and their teachers.”

Thomas Turner said it was a huge boost for them when Ifor Williams agreed to partner up with the school so they could enter the competition.

He said: “Ifor Williams Trailers immediately agreed to get behind the team. We cannot thank them enough. Not only were they generous enough to back the boys but they were hugely inspirational for them.”

As part of the project the team went on a site visit to Ifor Williams Trailers where they were set specific targets and functions to incorporate in their design, including working out how to overcome some of the problems which can beset more conventional forms of pallet.

The boys said visiting the factory was an eye-opener and it was great to witness a top professional engineering team in their workplace.

Charlie said: “Ifor Williams are the best in the business with a global reputation, so it was a brilliant chance for us to meet their engineers and we definitely learned a lot from them. In the end we felt we were really lucky, not many school groups get to work with such a world class manufacturer.”