(L - R): Ross Embleton, custom integration specialist at heliguy and Carl Gregg, product and process design specialist at the Sustainable Advanced Manufacturing Project.
Matthew Neville

North East drone specialist reaches new heights with facility investment

North East drone specialist heliguy is scaling new heights after investing heavily in its own manufacturing facility.

The North Shields based company started life in 2006 as a retailer of remote-controlled helicopters but has since grown into a full-service drone specialist, providing drones, bespoke accessories, servicing, repairs, custom integrations, product development, drone pilot training, and end-to-end workflow support.

Over the past two years, this diversification has seen the company secure contracts with 38 police forces across the country, as well as the London Fire Brigade, Port of Tyne, and a host of personal and commercial clients.

This expansion of its services, and the establishing of a dedicated manufacturing hub at its Orion Business Park base, has not only led to the company onboarding more clients, but also more staff, with its headcount in North Shields now at 28.

Ross Embleton, custom integration specialist at heliguy, said: “We identified a gap in the market, quite early on, when the drone market was just maturing and swiftly established ourselves as one of the UK’s leading independent providers of drones and accessories.

“Since then, we’ve continued to invest in the business year-on-year, ensuring we continue to service our clients to the highest possible standard and continuing to create job opportunities for local people.”

Central to bringing product development and manufacturing in-house and growing the business has been a suite of “state-of-the-art” 3D printers that has allowed heliguy to design and produce parts at its North Shields facility, helping to slash lead and prototype times while reducing costs.

The company purchased the printers after receiving technical support and a grant from the £10.9m Sustainable Advanced Manufacturing (SAM) Project.

This is a collaboration between European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), University of Sunderland, the Northern Powerhouse Initiative and Industry, set up to support North East (LEP) SME manufacturers to explore and introduce new technology to improve their products or processes.

Carl Gregg, product and process design specialist at the SAM Project, said: “As a team of engineers who thrive upon helping businesses overcome challenges to growth, it was fantastic to work with heliguy and to become so involved in helping them plan for the future as they continue to innovate and grow and create jobs here in the North East.”

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