Trip to Schrader Electronics

On Monday 6th December, 10 AS and A2 Technology students went on a trip to Schrader Electronics, Antrim. Leaving school at 9:30am, we travelled across snow covered roads to the manufacturing plant in Antrim where Schrader Electronics is based.

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Upon arrival, and after signing in, we were taken upstairs to the Executive Boardroom where we were told all about the company’s history and also about what Schrader Electronics produces and manufactures. During this time we were told about where Schrader have manufacturing plants in different parts of the world, their profit and their turnover. We were also impressed with the companies strong global trade networks with the United States, throughout Europe and the rest of the world. We were surprised that none of us had heard of such a prestigious company being one of the top 100 companies in Northern Ireland. The company employs over 1000 people worldwide and it has offices in 11 countries.

The main product which is designed and produced in Antrim is a wireless tyre pressure monitor for car tyres. In 2015 a European law will be passed requiring all vehicles made in Europe to have a tyre pressure gauge. This is already mandatory in the USA. Schrader have over 50% of the global trade for this type of product.

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After this very interesting introduction we were each given electro static resistant overalls, a lab coat, a hat and slip ons for over our shoes. This helped to avoid any damage to sensitive components when we were walking around the production lines. When in the production room we were split into two groups- one group went with the Production Manager and the other with the Quality Control Manager. We were very privileged to have such important people taking us on the tour.

We were shown the various production methods used when manufacturing the tyre monitor- one of the most interesting was PCB manufacture. The whole process was fully automated using robotics and the very latest manufacturing techniques. The production line costs £8.5 million and outputs over 700,000 pressure sensors per month!

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We were familiar with some of the production methods from the theory which we had covered as part of our AS/A2 course. It was most beneficial to see it them real life – Robotics, Pneumatics, Mechanisms, Resistant Materials, Electronics, Computer Control, CAD/CAM to name but a few.

After spending a good 45 minutes on the shop floor looking at the product from inception right through to testing and being packaged for shipping we had a Q+A session with the Team Leader of the Software Design Team, Mr. David Caskey. After a few constructive questions from Rowan and Nikki it was time to head back to school (via KFC thanks to Mr. Boyd!) Overall it was a very interesting, useful, and educational visit, enjoyed by all.

Many thanks to Schrader Electronics and Mr. Caskey for their time and hospitality.

AS/A2 T&D Students (06-12-2010)

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