Page 1

30 YEARS OF ENGINEERING EXCELLENCE


30 YEARS OF ENGINEERING EXCELLENCE


CONTENTS FOREWARD 6 INTRODUCTION 10 CHAPTER 1 - Origins 12 CHAPTER 2 - Iraq & Afghan Wars

20

CHAPTER 3 - Civilian Applications 32 CHAPTER 4 - Lifeboat Launch & Recovery System

4

43

CHAPTER 5 - Renewable Energy

56

CHAPTER 6 - Mineral Explosion 64 CHAPTER 7 - Service, Support & Training 72 ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS 81


5


“I HAVE SOLDIERS AND MARINES ALIVE TODAY BECAUSE Y THE CARE TO CONSTRUCT SOME OF THE WORLD’S FINEST C 6


YOU GOT IT RIGHT. YOU TOOK THE TIME, THE TROUBLE AND COMBAT VEHICLES; THANK YOU.”

Lt General Sir Graeme Lamb KBE CMG DSO, Commander Field Army

7


TITLE WILL GO ACROSS HERE Nick Jones is proof that apprenticeships can provide just as good a grounding as a degree. The founding director of Supacat, a specialist developer of high mobility vehicles based on aWorld War 2 airfield in Devon, his company stands 5th in the latest SundayTimes PwC Profit Track 100 list which measures companies’ profit growth over their last three financial years. Supacat finished one place behind F1 giants McLaren, having seen turnover leap from £40 to £110 million – just 2 decades since the Company’s inception in Nick Jones’ back garden. The war in Afghanistan had a lot to do with Supacat’s near 3-fold increase in turnover. Their all-terrain Jackal armoured fighting vehicles are in high demand among Special Forces around the world. “It has become the vehicle of choice among the English speaking Special Forces because it is not only capable of racing across open desert and scrub at 6070 miles an hour but it is well protected against

8

IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices)” Says Nick. But the Jackal and other military vehicles produced by this discreet business in the wilds of Devon, is only part of the picture. Jones and his 110-strong skilled workforce are also heavily into alternative energy and other highly specialist land transport systems. If Britain had a NASA, one senses that it would be a Supacat vehicle that would ‘walk’ the rockets out to their launch pad. We don’t, but Supacat has another world-beating 4-track vehicle designed to launch and recover vessels from shallow beaches. The pre-production prototype almost ran me off the road as I arrived at Dunkeswell, a former US Airbase near Honiton that once set wave after wave of Liberators on bombing forays across Europe. This strange tracked vehicle with its ‘diving bell’ control room and flat bed trailer forward, is designed to launch


E IN THIS SPACE

9


10


and recover lifeboats into the surf from difficult beaches where the tide runs out so far, even harbours nearby dry out. The machine is also designed so that it can be left submerged in up to 9 metres of water between tides – just in case! The Company is also heavily involved in renewable energy, providing the engineering expertise to convert wave power into electrical energy. Later this year, Fred.Olsen Energy ASA, headed by the Norwegian shipping magnate, will commence testing a new design built at

Supacat with input from Exeter and Plymouth universities, connected to a wave hub situated 10 miles off Hale on the North Cornish coast. Each absorber is designed to produce 250 kilowatts . “There are more waves than wind, especially off the Cornish coast. The challenge, engineering wise,is to make the units super reliable in what can be a very tough environment. To be economic, maintenance is planned only once every 6 months.” He says.

(above) Caption here... (left) Caption here...

Nick Jones has lived and worked in Devon ever since his parents moved there when he was

11


16. His working life started soon after, as an apprentice at FJ Edwards, an engineering firm in Chard manufacturing precision guillotines. “There are so many people like me that are not so good at academia, but very good with their hands – Often it is these people who, once they have gained practical experience, make the best engineers and designers.� He believes.

(above) Caption here...

12


13


(above) Caption here...

(above) Caption here...

After serving his time, the young Jones, moved to the Bath and Group to work on bigger things – large crawlers and giant Caterpillar trucks. “I got tired of working in a factory and saw this as being much more interesting.” It was here that his passion for designing and manufacturing cross-country vehicles began with the development of a prototype Hover Land Rover.

6 Supacat and also redesigned and built glider winches. The ones we produced 25 years ago are still going strong and we quickly exhausted the market.” He laughs now.

The move proved a seminal career move too, giving him vital experience in various specialpurpose vehicles and extreme engineering. It was also here that Nick met David Clayton, a fellow glider pilot who had designed a winch to lift these frail aircraft into the air without the need for a tow plane. This was the springboard that set the two up in business together back in 1981 and led to the founding ofSupacat. “We started off designing the 6 x

14

Fate turned their attention to producing a heavy duty all terrain mobility platform (ATMP). This 6x6 go anywhere vehicle is just as capable at bridging swamps as crossing deserts. It even floats, and powered by an outboard, can traverse rivers and lakes too. The idea at the time was to answer the need for a farm vehicle to get around on boggy ground, but they quickly found this rugged design had other applications too. “We launched the design at (right) Caption here...


1981

Nick met David Clayton, a fellow glider pilot who had designed a winch to lift these frail aircraft into the air without the need for a tow plane. This was the springboard that set the two up in business together back in 1981 and led to the founding ofSupacat.

1987 1991

Chosen as the tractor to tow Britain’s world speed record breaking jet propelled Thrust SSC when it set a 763 mile an hour land speed record in Black Rock Desert, Nevada back in 1997.

15


16


NICK JONES HAS LIVED AND WORKED IN DEVON EVER SINCE HIS PARENTS MOVED THERE WHEN HE WAS 16. HIS WORKING LIFE STARTED SOON AFTER, AS AN APPRENTICE

17


1981 AND LED TO THE FOUNDING OF SUPACAT

18

1997 CHOSEN TO TOW BRITAIN’S WORLD RECORD BREAKING THRUST SSC IN NEVADA


the end of the Falklands War when our soldiers had been forced to ‘yomp’ with heavy packs on their backs from one side of these boggy Islands to the other, after the ship carrying their helicopters had been sunk by enemy fire. The MOD was looking for something rugged enough to be dropped by an aircraft that could carry troops and a good amount of gear across any ground.” Recalls Nick. A man from the Ministry came down to view their Supacat, had a ride round the field at home and ‘thought it had promise’. The next step was a test against other vehicles on the Outer Hebridean island of Jura where aptly perhaps, George Orwell wrote his forward thinking social novel ‘1984’. Britain’s Special Forces were impressed with its 6-wheel drive and 4-wheel steering, its ability to skid turn like a tank, and its capability to keep moving across the worst ground even with 1.5 tons of gear strapped on it’s payload bay. They put in an initial order for six. 25 years on and the ATMP is still in demand, not just from Special Forces around the world, but as fire tenders, air crash recovery vehicles, and for lifeguard beach rescue operations. It was also chosen

as the tractor to tow Britain’s world speed record breaking jet propelled Thrust SSC when it set a 763 mile an hour land speed record in Black Rock Desert, Nevada back in 1997. The ATMP is as rugged as an ox but with just 3.5psi in its chunky Goodyear tyres, it is hardly a speed record breaker by itself.There was a need for something faster, a vehicle that could better withstand the IEDs the rudimentary roadside bombs favoured by the Taliban that were decimating the standard Army Snatch Land-Rover and its occupants. Enter the SupacatJackal, a 4 or 6-wheel bomb resistant specialist vehicle capable of traversing road or desert scrub at 70mph that has proved a lifesaver in Afghanistan. “We designed it very much like a racing car with a mid-engine to give the vehicle a 50/50 weight balance on all the axles. The vehicle has air suspension to give different ride height settings and it is equipped with mitigated seats which not only smooth out passenger ride, but take the sting out of the 100 G-force from a mine.” Nick Jones explains

(above) Caption here... (previous page) Caption here... (left) Caption here...

Powered by a 6.7litre Cummins diesel, the

19


same engine used in many large yachts, this 8-ton rhinoceros can accelerate from 0-60mph in 20 seconds – better than most small shopping cars – and provides a limo-like ride over any pot-holed track. Even better, the vehicles and their patrol crews can go selfsustained into the outback for two weeks at a time. The Jackal could not have got a better accolade than the letter that Jones and his team received from Lt General Sir Graeme Lamb KBE CMG DSO, Commander Field Army “I have soldiers and Marines alive today because you got it right. You took the time, the trouble and the care to construct some of the World’s finest combat vehicles; Thank you.” He wrote The Company has just launched a new SPV400 series (Supacat Protected Vehicle)

with improved blast and ballistic protection, and radar cheating ‘stealth’ properties designed to operate in an urban environment. It has also developed bigger versions of the Jackal capable of carrying almost twice the payload. Two of these enclosed cab HMT 600s will act as tractors and support vehicles for Richard Noble’s latest Bloodhound world land speed record attempt to break the 1,000-mile per hour barrier next year. This is a project close to Nick Jones’ heart,for quiteapart from breaking records, this is an education project developed to excite children to take an active interest in engineering and science. “The Country needs more young engineers. We need to get engineering back into schools, back at the top of the curriculum. We now spend part of our time going out to local schools to tell them about the speed project

1981

20

Nick met David Clayton, a fellow glider pilot who had designed a winch to lift these frail aircraft into the air without the need for a tow plane. This was the springboard that set the two up in business together back in 1981 and led to the founding ofSupacat.

Caption here...

1987


1991 Chosen as the tractor to tow Britain’s world speed record breaking jet propelled Thrust SSC when it set a 763 mile an hour land speed record in Black Rock Desert, Nevada back in 1997.

21


and also what we do here at Supacat.” The Bloodhound engineering education adventure - www.bloodhoundssc.com provides interesting school resources from origami styled activities to building a balloon-powered car for primary KS2 level to providing full blown CAD drawings and exercises for KS5 students. “We value real hands-on skills and run an apprenticeship scheme here at Supacat to train tomorrow’s talent. We are always looking for budding engineers and designers, andfor youngsters,producing something they have dreamed up themselves out of Meccano, is as good a test as any.” He says with obvious enthusiasm The subject reminds Nick of his own childhood when weekends were spent at his grandparents’ holiday home at West Caption here...

(above) Caption here...

22


23


Wittering. “The house was made up from two railway carriages and my bedroom was one of the compartments. I still remember the big leather sashes that we used to lower the windows with. I built an 11+ sailing dinghy from a kit and tried sailing it from the beach which was always difficult when the winds were on-shore. In the end, I made up a trolley with a swan neck and towed the boat behind my bicycle to launch it at Itchenor.” Ironically, it was Itchenor where Nick Jones returned to many years later to take up sailing once more. He began with a Southerly 115 and now owns the Southerly 38, Bettina,which he keeps at the Mayflower Marina, Plymouth. (above) Caption here...

1981 AND LED TO THE FOUNDING OF SUPACAT

24

Ironically, it was Itchenor where Nick Jones returned to many years later to take up sailing once more. He began with a Southerly 115 and now owns the Southerly 38, Bettina,which he keeps at the Mayflower Marina, Plymouth. “We use her for cruising around West Country estuaries and across to the Scilly Isles where her swing keel is invaluable. We are also looking to cruise around Southern Ireland, and if time allows, to explore the French canals down to the Med, but that’s just a dream at the moment.” But Nick Jones has a nack of turning dreams into reality. This could well be another chapter in what has been a very productive life.

Caption here...

1997 CHOSEN TO TOW BRITAIN’S WORLD RECORD BREAKING THRUST SSC IN NEVADA


25


CHAPTER 2 IRAQ & AFGHAN WARS

26


27

Supacat spreads  

Supacat spreads