EPI – Precision Tooling Hi-tech Solutions

EPI, the engineering backbone of the UAE’s aerospace and defence industry, manufactures high-quality complex metallic engineering components for the defence, aerospace, space, and oil and gas sectors at its advanced facilities in Abu Dhabi. Christian Ziehe, Acting CEO of EPI, speaks about their strategic partnerships with leading global players. Excerpts from the interview:

EPI is now expanding its manufacturing capabilities to support the Boeing 787 Dreamliner while working in partnership round the world it provides state-of-the-art engineering services to the world’s foremost aviation and defence OEMs, such as Airbus, BAE Systems, Dassault Aviation, Leonardo, Raytheon, SAAB and Steila Aerospace.

Christian Ziehe is the Acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of EPI, an EDGE entity and regional leader in manufacturing high-quality complex engineering components for the defence, aerospace, and oil and gas sectors. In his role, Christian is tasked with enhancing the company’s competitiveness through transfer of work from Europe, cycle time reduction, raw material and manufacturing process optimisation, and developing manufacturing synergies. Ziehe brings to his role over three decades of technical and managerial experience in the aerospace and defence industries across diverse business functions, including sales and marketing, research and design, quality management, procurement, logistics and production.

Since its inception in 2007, EPI has evolved into one of the GCC’s premier precision engineering facilities for the aerospace, defence and oil and gas industries. What are the major milestones over these years and where does EPI stand globally?

We are proud to be known as the engineering backbone of the UAE’s aerospace and defence industry. The company’s core business is to provide design-specific metallic machined parts, surface treatment services and first level of assembly applications to customers within the aerospace, defence and oil andgas sectors.EPI’s capabilities span engineering, production, surface and heat treatment, machining, coating, repairing and tooling.Over the years, we have been developing valuable strategic partnerships with established players across the globe- building our supply chain, our capabilities and expertise. In 2011, EPI became the first company in the Gulf region to achieve EN/AS9100 certification – the leading Quality Management System for the aerospace industry. Very recently, we formally announced that we are expanding our manufacturing capabilities to support the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. The serial assembly lines will be an extension to the current Abu Dhabi facility.

How does EPI look at South Asia and Africa as markets for expanding its business? What are the existing operations in these areas?

We are open to new partnerships from South Asia and Africa and remain focused on providing premium solutions to our partners.Most of our customer-base, 85%, is from the aerospace sector, with others from the defence, space, and oil and gas sectors. Our strategic partnerships with leading global players give us an edge over other enterprises. Working in partnership, round the world, we provide state-of-the-art engineering services to some of the world’s most foremost aviation and defence original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) – such as Airbus, BAE Systems, Boeing, Dassault Aviation, Leonardo, Raytheon, SAAB and Steila Aerospace.

EPI recently announced its plans for expanding manufacturing capabilities for Boeing Dreamliner. What are the products and services offered by EPI in the aerospace industry? Who are the major clients?

EPI manufactures high-quality complex metallic engineering components for the defence, aerospace, space, and oil and gas sectors at its advanced facilities in Abu Dhabi. Last year EPI announced that it is expanding its manufacturing capabilities to support the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.EPI will machine parts for use in the 787-commercial aircraft. The processed parts will additionally go through EPI’s surface treatment plant. EPI predominantly does precision machining but this collaboration with Boeing will help us move beyond machining and into aircraft parts assembly for aerospace Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs).Today, we also offer design enhancements and modifications. We provide expertise in every aspect of the manufacturing process, from initial designs to finished components, including build to print.Our capabilities include manufacturing, engineering, machining, surface and heat treatment, PVD coating, repairing oil and gas equipment and components, cutting tools, assembly equipping and small assembly. As mentioned before, we work with world’s foremost aviation and defence OEMs, including BAE Systems, Boeing, Dassault Aviation, Leonardo, Raytheon, SAAB and Steila Aerospace.

Providing round the clock engineering services to defence industry through state-of-the-art facilities has been a core objective of EPI. Could you shed more light onto the operations in the sector?

With advanced manufacturing facilities in Abu Dhabi, each of our solutions is calibrated to industry-specific standards and designed to meet international benchmarks.We provide expertise in every aspect of the manufacturing process and remain committed to incorporating advanced technologies into its engineering solutions. We have grown from an initial four machines to be able to offer an integrated suite of around 100 of the latest hi-tech machine tool systems.

Our Industrial Engineers and machine tools turn ideas into working prototypes, aided by a state-of-the-art measurement lab to guarantee accuracy. Approved prototypes are then made real with cutting-edge machinery: CNC milling, CNC turning, chemical processing, non-destructive testing, shot peening and blasting and heat treatments, PVD coating and plastic injection. Our highly skilled team of CAD/CAM designers, programmers, tool makers, application and manufacturing engineers apply next-generation technology to design and deliver 21st century engineering solutions.

We support product development from early-stage capacity studies and prototyping to final manufacturing and production process design.We also have capabilities in cutting tools, surface treatment, heat treatment, coating, repair, and machining.

The inspection, testing and laboratory facilities of EPI are top notch with the aim to meet international standards and customer needs. Could you talk more about EPI’s inspection and quality assurance operations?

We make sure that all our products and manufacturing processes are constantly monitored and controlled to meet our internal and customer needs. That’s why we focus on training our employees for operator qualifications and reassessment programmes. This helps us promote self- inspection deployments across departments.Our Statistical Process Control framework goes a step further by helping us improve sampling methods and redefines key characteristics required to ensure alignment with our Quality Policy.

We are equipped to control the properties of materials, including various aluminium grades, titanium, steel and stainless steel, to meet industry benchmarks. We achieve this through monitoring that includes incoming inspections, detailed inspection during the parts manufacturing stage, and review following heat-treatment processes. Our test capabilities include:

  • Material surface hardness with machines capable of achieving Vickers, Knop, and Rockwell A, B, C methods
  • Case-depth hardness (white layer) and microstructure analysis (including moulding)
  • Chemical analysis with spark optical emission spectrometer (OES)
  • Electrical conductivity measuring of non-ferrous material (aluminium grade/Eddy currents)
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