AF Switchgear in focus

Ever wondered how our switchboards are manufactured?

Today in our ‘In Focus’ series, we look at a short video clip of a particular piece of kit we use in our in-house fabrications facility.

The machine featured today is an automated punch machine manufactured by #TruPunch, which we have two in use currently.

The machine uses Radan CAD/CAM software and our Fabrication Engineers/Operators have to be specially trained to program the software and operate it correctly.

Once programmed the TruPunch machine can self-load and run for 24hrs a day if required.

It is very efficient in its operation and produces very little waste so all in all a great piece of kit.

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AF Switchgear Remote FAT

Remote Factory Acceptance Tests

During these changing and challenging times we have all had to adapt our usual way of doing business in many areas.
One such change has been the introduction of Remote Factory Acceptance Testing with the use of Zoom and Microsoft Teams.

Our engineers have been tasked with hosting the events via live streaming using mobile cameras and stabilising equipment.

The tests to date have been extremely successful with excellent feedback from clients who were not only keen to praise Test Teams for their efforts but also to point out the huge steps in reducing all of our carbon footprints


Apprentice of the year award


In partnership with our training provider, West Notts College it was with pleasure that we were once again able to present this prestigious annual award.

Despite all the challenges thrown at our apprentices, not least those of virtual classrooms we are very pleased to announce that we had two outstanding candidates whom the awarding authority voted for to receive the award.

Both having demonstrated excellent qualities in a number of key performance-related categories in regard to their individual training plans.

So on behalf of all staff at AF Switchgear, congratulations to:

Jack Glebocki – Fabricator and Welder Apprentice
Kai Lancashire – Electrical Apprentice

Presented by Managing Director, Ian Foster and Operations Manager, Mike Ratcliffe both received a trophy, a £250 tool voucher from our sponsor Protrade Tools and Fixings plus a box of our very own AF Switchbeer!

Solar installation

Take a look at our Solar installation!

Installing a State of the Art Solar Farm

AF Switchgear made a decision to install a Photovoltaic array a couple of years ago, therefore our very own Solar Farm and we are delighted with the results.

Our PV array is made up of hundreds of Polycrystalline panels, each rated at 260W covering our factory roofs. The DC power is converted to AC through 25kW inverters into a bespoke built Switchgear and Monitoring System.

In total we have generated over 275,000 kWh to date, contributing greatly to our power usage.

Derby Velodrome

Derby Velodrome

Installing Twin Package Substations at the Derby Velodrome

AF Switchgear supplied several twin package substations for the Derby Arena and Velodrome, one of the largest projects undertaken in the East Midlands.

The 5,000-seat arena features a 12-court sports hall, a gym, group exercise space and a cafe. As well as cycling, the venue hosts sports including basketball and doubles up as a concert venue. The indoor Velodrome is one of only five in the UK. The others include the:

  • National Cycle Centre in Manchester
  • Wales National Velodrome in Newport, South Wales
  • London Olympic Velodrome in Stratford City
  • Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome in Glasgow

The project at the Derby Arena and Velodrome required fast-track manufacturing to enable a quick ‘power-on’ date. The substation needed to facilitate the heating and ventilation aspect during construction, purely to maintain a controlled ambient temperature to allow the wooden track to be laid and then settled.

In addition to manufacturing the numerous substations for Derby Arena and Velodrome, AF Switchgear also supplied substations and final circuit distribution boards for the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome in Glasgow, the host venue for the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.

The indoor arena section features a hydraulically operated 200m running track, jumping and throwing areas, and sports halls. The Velodrome houses a 250m high-banked cycle track with a multi-use infill area. The scheme also includes a community sports centre, four floodlit outdoor sports pitches and a 1km outdoor cycle track.

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JCB Academy

JCB Academy

Providing JCB Academy With Engineering for LV Switchboards and Control Panels

AF Switchgear worked on the JCB Academy project, which was undertaken in partnership with a long-standing client called Imtech.

To promote UK engineering and education, JCB decided to sponsor an academy opening its doors to Year 10, 11 and 12 students, accommodating up to 540 people. For the project, AF Switchgear manufactured the LV switchboards and control panel.

The control panel was designed to run a modern version of one of the world’s oldest engineering wonders: an Archimedes Screw.

The device, which was shaped like a giant corkscrew, was used to create a fully functional water turbine. Weighing in at 13.3 tonnes, the screw generated up to 85% of the centre’s electricity, saving up to 64 tonnes of CO² compared to using mains electricity.

Approx. 50% of the water is derived from the River Dove, which runs through the site, with the weight of the water forcing the screw to rotate, generating electricity to act as an asynchronous generator. This in turn, powers the local site load and can export to the grid when needed.

Situated adjacent to JCB’s headquarters in Rocester, Staffordshire, the academy is part housed in the Grade II listed Tutbury Mill, with a new annexe housing the main classrooms. Built in 1871 by Industrial Revolution entrepreneur Richard Arkwright, renovation of the picturesque site began in December 2009.

In addition to the main LV switchboards and control panel, AF Switchgear were called in to provide specialist engineering assistance.

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No.20 Fenchurch Street

No.20 Fenchurch Street

AF Switchgear was selected to supply the complete Power Distribution Unit for No 20. Fenchurch Street (also known as the Walkie Talkie Building) in the City of London.

The Walkie Talkie building was designed by the Uruguayan architect, Rafael Viñoly. Canary Wharf Management and Land Securities set up a joint venture to construct the £200m building, which is 525ft tall and consists of 38 floors plus a high-level Sky Garden.

AF Switchgear’s contract was to supply and install 13no.Package Substations, 51no. Switchboards and a complete Energy Management System.

A substation helps to regulate high voltages, reducing them so that power can be easily and efficiently distributed to home and businesses.

A Power Distribution Unit (PDU) helps to control the electrical power in data centres by providing standard electrical outlets.

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Harry Potter studio tour

Harry Potter

AF Switchgear supplied multiple switchboards, panel boards and distribution equipment for the official ‘Warner Bros. Studio Tour, London – The Making of Harry Potter’, which is based at Warner Bros Studios, London.

To honour the best-selling book and film series (the biggest grossing film series of all time), a new attraction was built at the former Leavesden Film Studios. It was acquired by the Warner Brothers in 2010, who invested £110,000,000 to give the plot a complete refurbishment.

The former 1940’s aerodrome, which is spread over a 200-acre site, offers flexible filming space in addition to the experience. The facility allows the public to go ‘behind the scenes’ and showcases a huge array of sets and props from the film series amounting to over ten-years’-worth of Harry Potter memorabilia.

The experience reveals some of the closely guarded secrets, special effects and breath-taking animatronics that made Harry Potter the global phenomenon it is today. The attraction, which was opened by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in 2013, regularly attracts over 40,000 weekly visitors.

The LV switchgear manufactured by AF Switchgear enabled power throughout the studio.

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Olympic park, London

London Olympics

AF Switchgear were selected to supply the LV switchboards to power the communications hub known as the Data Hotel, to facilitate essential communications for the 2012 London Olympics.

This communications hub provided mobile phone SMS and MMS services for all major mobile phone companies such as O2, Vodafone, Orange, T-Mobile, EE and many more during the Olympics.

Situated at the Olympic Park in Stratford, East London the Data Hotel was a temporary building equipped with the latest mobile phone communication server technology. The facility had the capability to supply coverage to over four billion mobile phones, of which many users subscribed to the Olympics event via mobile phone applications.

The apps provided real time information featuring the latest schedules for each event, results, news, gossip, photos and video clips of all the medal ceremonies, crucial victories, world records plus any other related information so sports fans from around the globe could enjoy the full London 2012 Olympics experience.

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