EDM – finding quality solutions for training and education

EDM, which began business operations in 1972 and now employs a highly skilled workforce numbering 125, recently moved from its original base in Oldham to a new facility in Newton Heath, Manchester.

The company has three core divisions: two – EDM Defence Training and EDM Commercial Training – design and develop bespoke training solutions for a range of aerospace, defence and transport customers.  These sophisticated systems provide a safe but realistic environment in which customers’ personnel can undertake key operational training.

The third division, EDM Interactive & Education, develops innovative, interactive exhibits and displays that add to the fun factor where education is the underlying goal – at museums and exhibitions and to support schools’ key-stage learning goals.

Aerospace customers include most of the world’s major airlines, whose cabin crews benefit from EDM’s cabin emergency evacuation and door trainer’s systems that allow them to practice emergency procedures – with three-axis and tilt motion systems to add realism – through to the more routine service training, courtesy of full-size galley and passenger cabin simulators, for narrow and wide-body aircraft (including the latest airliners such as the giant A380 and the Boeing 787 Dreamliner).

Flight crews of both commercial airliners and military fast jets apply EDM-designed part task training and full mission simulation to increase their operational performance, and simulators are also employed to test the effectiveness of drills for underwater escape from a helicopter, procedures for ground and maintenance staff and the functionality of ejector-seat systems.

For last year’s Farnborough Air Show, EDM worked to tight timescales to produce a mock-up that enabled BAE Systems to take the wraps off its MANTIS technology demonstrator which aims to boost British know-how in unmanned autonomous systems.

Defence industry simulators also embrace the sea, where EDM systems test sailors’ procedural and seamanship capabilities, and the land, where simulators are designed for a wide range of vehicles including fuel and water tankers, semi-tractor vehicles and heavy troop transporters. The EDM Helicopter Underwater Escape Trainer (HUET) has been used for a number of years at the Fleetwood Offshore Survival Centre in the provision of potentially lifesaving techniques that would be used in the event of a helicopter ditching over water.

EDM has, for example, developed a precisely-dimensioned electrical/electronic diagnostic trainer for the Titan and Trojan tanks – the British Army’s specialist bridge layers and bulldozers that have design commonality with the Challenger II main battle tank.  This simulator allows instructors to access a fault library and simulate errors in the on-board systems to train Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) students in maintenance and fault diagnostics.

In the commercial world, rail and road safety directives have also driven enhanced training requirements.  For example, motion-based systems applied in lorry and bus cab simulators are effective in testing drivers’ ability to cope with skids and loss of traction – and simulators help build the expertise of rail industry drivers and signallers, providing the coaching foundation for both new recruits and updates for existing staff.

As recently as last month, EDM commissioned a touch-screen version of its NX panel simulator – the first of its kind in Europe – for use by rail signallers at the Rail Operations Training Academy in Belfast.  This device creates life-like situations, enabling instructors to set faults and, through a record/play-back system, rapidly review and debrief trainees on the tasks undertaken.

In the specialised field of museums, galleries and educational exhibitions, EDM has made its mark with popular interactive systems at the Science Museum, Liverpool Museum, Spaceport, Imaginosity, Kelvingrove and, closer to home, the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester.   Inventive designers, and experienced mechanical and systems engineers come together to create interactive exhibits that are not only innovative, pulling in visitor numbers and urging people to ‘have a go’, but also robust enough in the face of this constant public use.

Other customers require displays offering direct educational support for under-fives right through the National Curriculum demands and into higher education.  Whether animated, static, interactive, 2D, 3D, visual or computer-based, EDM can call on more than 30 years experience to devise the most suitable exhibit for a specific educational environment.

EDM’s highly-skilled workforce includes systems designers to develop and apply the software and high-fidelity systems underpinning the hardware, and CAD/CAM designers to simulate faithfully a diversity of operational environments in order that customers can train key staff in as realistic conditions as possible.

EDM hardware ranges from full-size replicas of aircraft – including Eurofighter and Hawk – to aero engines, train cabs, control rooms and submarines and scale models of process plants.

Highly-accurate facsimiles also play a key role in proving engineering designs ahead of companies’ huge investments in production tooling, and EDM has a portfolio of high-profile customers from the aerospace, motor car, consumer goods and ‘white goods’ industries, along with a wide range of component manufacturers, using EDM-made prototypes or bespoke tooling.