Author: Eoin O'Donnell, ME. BE, MIEI, engineering projects manager and CPD lead, Dromone Engineering Development, training and engagement of all engineers in Dromone have led to an unprecedented level of new product developments and growth in the company over the past three years. During the late 2000s, Dromone aligned its position as a market leader with new construction and agricultural coupling technologies. Such a strategy is one of the cornerstones of success of this indigenous Irish company, providing a platform for sound organisation stability and future planning. The mechanical engineering company, which is based in Oldcastle, Co Meath, has altered its operation from being driven by large original equipment manufacturers to commanding its services from such global stalwarts such as Volvo, Massey Ferguson, JCB, Claas, Esco and John Deere, to mention a few. This change in direction mostly required a change in organisational culture. Traditionally, from 1978, product development had focused a lot on heuristic knowledge and a vast array of practical experiences. While these competencies and attributes undoubtedly grew the company over its history, the need to add a scaling element necessitated the requirement to adopt new engineering processes and techniques. [login type="readmore"] 'RIGHT FIRST TIME' THINKING Product life cycle planning, design reviews, failure mode effects analysis, advanced product quality planning, finite element analysis, design from first principles and design for manufacture are commonplace now in day-to-day functions as a result of the professionalisation of the engineering function. These techniques drive ‘right first time’ thinking, which build efficiency in the operation and production of the product directly from the concept thinking stage.

Having been formulated, this strategy update required a mechanism to manage the change process without impacting on the daily business requirements. The Engineers Ireland continuing professional development (CPD) standard provided this management system. Starting out with a comprehensive CPD policy committing to the empowerment, development and engagement of all engineers and technicians ensured buy-in right from the start. Following the straightforward steps in the CPD strategy structured the change and guided the team to the current success of the company. Supporting the change involved a significant capital investment in all areas of the business. To complement the update to the product development and production introduction project, Dromone embarked on a major 'lean manufacturing' initiative. Influence and coaching from leading industry experts, which originated directly from the Toyota supply chain, provided insight into the latest manufacturing engineering practices. The increase in revenue and customer base can be maintained while diversification and transformation into an export-driven business, still employing 100 staff and supplying customers in almost 40 countries worldwide. Surprisingly, the CPD system in Dromone soon began to encapsulate many other departments and functions. The CPD programme and systems complemented the continuous improvement incentives and have directly transposed to efficiency savings right though the plant. CLOSE INTEGRATION Leveraging ISO standard developments and integrating closely with institutions such as Enterprise Ireland, the Road Safety Authority, third-level institutions and the Health and Safety Authority have accelerated the company's position to the cutting edge of technology developments ensuring the product offering continue to be a step ahead of the competition. In the past three years, all of this has cumulated in the securing of long terms contracts in excess of €24 million and the introduction of in excess of 60 product models, driving an export-led expansion. Using the Engineers Ireland CPD standard, the company strategy expands to focus on four key areas – operations excellence, engineering design, customer facing and supplier development. These four elements form the cornerstone of Dromone’s future business strategy. For Dromone, the CPD standard will ensure the competency development of its engineering professionals and retain its heritage of a mechanical and manufacturing engineering company operating on a global platform.