Read our interview with Andy Marshall, Woodward
Company profile – Woodward
Woodward is an independent designer, manufacturer, and service provider of control solutions for the aerospace and industrial markets. Our aerospace systems and components optimize the performance of fixed wing and rotorcraft platforms in commercial, business and military aircraft, ground vehicles and other equipment.
The company has a long history and will celebrate its 150th anniversary in 2020. The group operates 29 offices in 15 countries and has 7,500 employees globally. Woodward’s corporate headquarters is located at Fort Collins, Colorado USA.
The Woodward Prestwick facility opened in March 1998 and is part of the Aircraft Turbine Systems business group. The site has grown steadily over the years and currently has 62 members of staff.
Woodward Prestwick is the Centre of Excellence for MRO work in the EMEA region and the aftermarket work carried out at the site originates from OEM in Rockford, USA. The site also serves customers in Europe and the Middle East, covering a large range of aircraft fuel control systems and governor systems on aircraft which vary in size from small turbo prop right up to the super large aircraft such as the Airbus A380 and Boeing 777.
The next phase of growth for Woodward Prestwick will see the addition of the GEnx fuel control added to our product portfolio which will then be followed by LEAP, Passport and GE9X. The next generation fuel systems will power aircraft such as the Airbus A320 Neo, Boeing 737 Max, Boeing 787 Dreamliner, Boeing 747-8 and the Boeing 777X.
Andy Marshall, General Manager – Woodward
How did you get involved in the aerospace industry?
When I left School I became a welder and worked for a number of engineering firms in the local area. By the age of 28 I’d made the decision to go to night-school to undertake further studies as I wanted to move in to the aerospace industry, which has traditionally offered attractive employment opportunities in the region.
I joined Woodward as a mature apprentice in Sept 2000 and continued to study. I really enjoyed the mechanical challenge of the role and I was very lucky to have a fabulous mentor who allowed me the freedom and opportunities to develop. I held various positions within operations, leading up to my appointment as General Manager of the Prestwick site in 2015.
What are the biggest changes you’ve seen in the industry?
Technology is changing at such a fast pace these days that it can be hard to stay on top of developments.
The constant drive to stay ahead of the curve is relentless and with industry 4.0 upon us it is both scary and exciting time. For our business, which is still very manual hand eye inspection work, we will go through a transformation as we move to new fuel control platforms. Our Test Stands are changing to manage the new electronic type fuel systems and this is bringing technology we can use to our competitive advantage as we grow our business here.
What are your career highlights at Woodward?
This would have to be seeing the Prestwick site through a Lean Transformation programme when I was the Operations Leader. We improved our processes to such an extent that our turnaround time to customers could not be matched anywhere in the world, and this directly translated in to a growth in sales.
Being the Operational Leader through this phase was both incredibly satisfying and educational. At the time we had no onsite experts to support the process so we were all on a journey, working together to support each other through the challenges we faced to ultimately deliver an incredible result. I remain immensely proud of our workforce and all that we have been able to achieve in recent years.
What advantage does your business get from being based at Prestwick?
Prestwick is an excellent area for us to be based. Being part of the Prestwick Aerospace cluster, which collectively employs in excess of 3,500 people, guarantees us availability of an appropriately skilled workforce as our local colleges and universities work closely with the Aerospace cluster to understand industry requirements. This combined with the excellent support we receive from South Ayrshire Council compliments what is an excellent package for all of the local Aerospace companies.
How do you see the industry evolving and what role do you see for Woodward?
Woodward is an innovative company that has global reach; however we cannot take it for granted that we will always be here. At Woodward Prestwick we need to work hard to continually improve our products, services and deliverables to ensure we stay competitive.
The Aerospace industry is growing and so is the cost of living in many low cost economies. By staying competitive in the mid to long term with pricing and service we believe we will meet our customer’s expectations and we’re confident that we will always compete in terms of quality.
As the world evolves around us we need to constantly review and tweak what we do through schools and colleges to make sure that Ayrshire can continue to develop the workforce for the future and not only for today.
How involved is Woodward in promoting STEM careers in the region?
Woodward Prestwick would be considered by many to be small in terms of our local Aerospace hub, but despite this we’re committed to promoting STEM careers to local children and we’re actively involved in a number of programmes to deliver this.
We have a dedicated STEM team based at Prestwick who go into schools, colleges and work in the community to highlight the STEM choices and potential careers to the younger generation. It’s encouraging to see that locally there is a definite change in attitude to women in engineering and although the numbers making the choice are still relatively low in comparison to men it is increasing.
We also work closely with the Ayrshire Chamber Developing Young Workforce (DYW) team and offer work experience placements to school children. We commit to six placements each year, however we tend to accommodate significantly more than that through word of mouth, as we are popular due to the hands on experience we offer on placements.