Second-year engineering undergraduate students from Oxford University, studying Engineering Science, had a recent tour of the Ariens Company factory in Great Haseley, Oxfordshire
The visit offered students the opportunity to see the manufacture of Countax and Westwood ride-on garden tractors through all the processes. The tour was arranged by Paul Bailey from Oxford University's Department of Engineering Science, prior to focusing on a one week 'Fabrication Coursework Module', a part academic, part practical course involving the manufacture of a toolbox using sheet metal techniques. Since this is done at the university using manual, low-level cutting out of individual metal sheets, the tour was used to show the students how it is processed in the real, working environment of larger factory production.
The visit was conducted by Phil Edwards, Operations Manager for Ariens, who says "Ariens has an engineering heritage, including the Countax history at Great Haseley, that dates back a long way. We're always looking to help in the development of the next generation of engineers in the UK as an investment for the future." The students followed the building of a tractor chassis from its CAD conception in the engineering office, to stock control and fabrication, with the focus on laser cutting sheet metal, through to the press shop, welding and painting, where Ariens employs powder coating for the paint finish.
"What was unusual about this visit," says Paul Bailey "was the fact the students were able to see the manufacturing process from the arrival of the sheet metal through each stage of design and construction to final assembly. It gave them a very good picture of their potential future in a real working environment and we were all very impressed with the tour." The visit also took in the use of purchased parts in the assembly, the final assembly itself, and culminated with the chance of a ride on the finished tractor.