Designing for Growth – AB Dynamics

AB Dynamics is a UK manufacturing success story. In 2014 SRA were commissioned to design a new headquarters for AB Dynamics and, for the last five years, we have worked with them to realise their ambition. The success of this working relationship, along with their continued growth, is such that the headquarters was followed by the Design and Development building, currently under construction, with the Manufacturing Centre now in the early stages of design.

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Based in Bradford-on-Avon, AB Dynamics design and manufacture advanced engineering systems for the automotive and technology sectors, exporting 98% of sales revenue.  Their clients include the top 25 global automotive manufacturers and their products range from driving simulators, kinematics measurement equipment, moving target crash testing equipment and driverless robots as featured on television.

After listing on the London Stock Exchange in 2013, in early 2014 they approached SRA and engaged us to design a new headquarters for the 50 strong company to allow them to expand from their base in a 1960s industrial shed. 

The challenge they set us shines a light on some of their management strategies that have resulted in their success; the brief for the new headquarters had three key components:

  • Provide a high-quality working environment – good people and talent are a business’s biggest asset.

  • Provide a high level of adaptability for frequently changing needs – this has allowed them to react to their fast developing R&D and product lines.

  • Project an image as a global engineering manufacturer. - to investors, customers and employees.

Rising to the challenge, SRA engaged in a collaborative but rigorous design development process along with AB Dynamics and the rest of the design team, resulting in the headquarters building which was finished by the end of 2017. This went on to win ‘Project of the Year’ at the Constructing Excellence South West awards.

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Throughout 2017 this rapid growth continued, testing the flexibility of the original design to adapt and accommodate many changes. The story of AB Dynamics’ continued success led to SRA being  commissioned to design a second building, their new Design and Development facility, which is currently under construction and due in the third quarter of 2020, with a new third facility for manufacturing in nearby Melksham due for completion in 2021. This growth was further reflected in their increased staff numbers, with 2019 seeing over 200 staff now based in Bradford on Avon.

 
 

From the outset, founder and chairman Tony Best recognised that a company’s buildings make a statement about the organisation. He wanted buildings that communicated engineering excellence to everyone who visited; especially global engineering customers from overseas. The appearance of the headquarters is strikingly contemporary and, in Tony Best’s words,

SRA have designed a building that is a pleasure to work in and meets our frequently changing needs. We are pleased with the outcome and the way it reflects the character of the company to all our visitors.

- Tony Best, AB Dynamics Founder and Chairman    

This was echoed in the requirements for the second building which was to be ‘from the same stable’ as the first, unifying the two buildings to establish a campus feel and consolidate the image of the company.

AB Dynamics understand the importance and correlation of quality-built assets and company image. They invested in their buildings to provide a quality working environment, attract talent and project their brand values to prospective clients. This foresight and ambition is surely part of the reason why they are a British engineering manufacturer performing successfully on the global stage.

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