August 1988 – A quick review
1 August 1988 saw beer priced around 91p per pint with the average lager around 98p per pint compared to around the £3.00 per pint mark nowadays.
Trouser pockets also got slightly fuller with coins around this time as the UK pound note was removed from legal tender.
At this time, petrol was hovering just below the £2.00 per gallon mark compared to around £5.05 per gallon in August 2017.
In the UK music charts, pop sensation Kylie Minogue was taking the UK pop charts by storm with hits including “I should be so lucky” and “Locomotion”, whilst new British boyband Bros took five singles into the Top 5 this year including “When Will I Be Famous?”.
The thing that most people were watching was the property prices – around that time even the most modest of flats or houses was creeping up at the rate of at least £1000 per month in places like London.
Somewhat closer to home in Kingswinford, West Midlands, 1 August 1988 saw the first day of trading for a new supplier of sub contract engineering design services based in the West Midlands – Nova Design was born 🙂
1 August 2017 sees Nova Design celebrating 29 years in business, all this time providing subcontract engineering design services to a variety of industries across the West Midlands, the UK and into Europe.
Nova was started by Dave Parry (Nova’s Managing Director) and business commenced on the second floor of Pensnett House in Kingswinford around 500 metres from our current location.
Early Mechanical Engineering Design
In those early days, engineering design was still very much a manual industry and at its inception Nova consisted of 10 drawing boards, one typewriter, a card index for sales and a simple phone system along with Dave, Julia and a small team of design engineers and draughtsmen. The total number of design engineers employed by Nova Design both internally and externally was around 15.
Early clients were mainly in the aerospace industry with turbine blade tooling projects comprising a large percentage of the internal project work together with projects in the construction industry based around curtain walling and cladding.
Mechanical Engineering Design Software
As technology moved on and IT hardware / software became more commercially available, Nova Design were one of the first mechanical design offices to invest in this modern design tool called CAD – Computer Aided Design. To put things into perspective, Nova’s first CAD workstations ran on Windows 3.1.1 (the last .1 being the network edition of Windows 3.1), had <300MB hard drives and a massive 4MB of RAM ! As a measure of the progression of technology, the current iPhone 7 has 2GB of RAM and a minimum of 32GB internal drive capacity.
Expanding the floor area of Nova and running alongside the drawing boards, Nova initially invested in 6 seats of Bentley Microstation 2D software. At this time, Nova were providing mechanical engineering design services for a company called Haden Drysys who were heavily involved in the mechanical handling and trim & final areas for Land Rover (now Jaguar Land Rover) in Solihull.
The use of CAD took off quickly within the mechanical design industry and AutoCAD became the industry standard for mechanical design, something Dave realised early on and Nova invested in a number of seats, allowing more design work to be achieved in less time than traditional manual methods.
Over the years, Nova Design have invested in additional CAD systems and associated design tools including Mathcad for calculations, Ansys DesignSpace for Finite Element Analysis (FEA) and a variety of CAD libraries to speed up the design process.
Nova Becomes A Family Business
In 1995, Dave’s youngest son Nick joined Nova. With a HNC in Mechanical Engineering gained from his apprenticeship at Dowty Aerospace in Wolverhampton, Nick bought many years of mechanical design experience to Nova. Now Engineering Director, Nick is responsible for the smooth running of the internal design office from project quotation through to final delivery of manufacture drawings / 3D CAD models as appropriate.
September 1997 saw Dave’s eldest son, Simon join the family business. Working his way up to Business Development Director, Simon is responsible for all areas of sales and marketing together with Quality Assurance and IT.
Around 2001, the CAD market was undergoing a revolution – higher end 3D CAD software was becoming commercially available and more importantly, coming available on a Windows software platform. Autodesk Mechanical Desktop was one of the first 3D mechanical design systems Nova Design invested in and the first project undertaken was the detailed design of stainless steel guarding systems for Cadbury’s in Bourneville, Birmingham.
A New Location – Expansion
May 2005 saw Nova Design move from Pensnett House to our current location in the Innovation Centre on Pensnett Trading Estate. This move allowed Nova to expand the number of seats in our mechanical design office to the current total of 40. With our design engineers working around 50 hours a week, Nova’s internal design capacity is around 2000 hours per week. Internally and externally, the total number of employees has now exceeded the 60 mark.
The pace of technological change has meant a constant series of upgrades both in CAD systems, associated tools and in the services offered by Nova. We now offer 3D laser scanning services, 3D animations and visualisations, recruitment (both contract and permanent) together with other drawing office services such as paper to cad conversions and the writing and compilation of technical manuals.
Current CAD systems now include :
Autocad / Autodesk Inventor / SolidWorks / Solid Edge / Unigraphics NX / Catia and Creo.
Quality Assured – “Right First Time”
From a business management perspective, Nova’s management team is committed to the future and our vision statement including the line “Right First Time”.
To this end, Nova have successfully implemented and run a quality system for a number of years. Beginning with BS5750 and now running a regularly audited ISO 9001:2008 system, Nova are certified for the “Provision Of Engineering Design Services”. Internally and with the assistance of our external consultants, our current goal is to be certified to the latest 9001:2015 standard by Xmas 2017.
Nova’s client portfolio has grown considerably over the years and now includes both OEM and first tier suppliers to industries including Automotive, Aerospace, Process Equipment and Nuclear.
Recent engineering design projects successfully completed include :
- Design and detailed design of ‘Body In White’ tooling / Robot cells for a number of new vehicles – end clients Jaguar Land Rover / Volvo Cars / Mercedes Benz
- Design and detailed design of Ground Support Equipment for gas turbines (civil aerospace) – end client Rolls Royce plc
- Detailed design of automotive paint plant – end client Chrysler Motors, Mexico
- Design and detailed design of new engine pallet systems – end client Ford Australia / Ford China
- Detailed design of water treatment projects – design and detail of new screening systems – end client Severn Trent and Anglian Water Boards
- Design and detailed design of Ground Support Equipment for gas turbines – industrial power generation – end client Industrial Turbine Company UK Limited – UK and North America sites
- Site surveys, layouts, design and detailed design of mechanical handling equipment – trim and final area of vehicle production – various sites – end client Jaguar Land Rover
- Detailed design of a number of new cranes – end client – Nuclear Decommissioning Authority – Sellafield Limited
An Eye On The Future
From a recruitment perspective, Nova Design are continually looking for additional staff to join our ranks, ranging from graduates looking for their first employment through to more experienced engineers looking for a change of career direction. Working closely with Dudley College, Wolverhampton University and Birmingham University engineering departments Nova are committed to assisting the next generation of students into the world of engineering design and manufacturing.