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Family Business Programmed for Success


Mar 26, 2018

Ashington-born David Simm built his first computer in his bedroom in 1973.  He now owns and is managing director of training and automation solutions company, Scantime, and his talented son Chris is moving the company forward into a bright future.

Virtually everything today is manufactured with the help of a Programmable Logic Controller (PLC). TV’s, computers, washing machines, even timber is produced in saw mills controlled by PLCs.

 A PLC is an industrial computer used in all manufacturing companies to control the manufacturing process. They are widely used in automobile manufacturing, food and drink, airport baggage control, pharmaceuticals and power generation.

Scantime are leading experts in the PLC field. They have opened a state-of-the-art training centre based in Gateshead and in 2017, the training delivered by the company was given special recognition by EAL, the specialist skills partner and awarding organisation for industry. Scantime’s specialist courses, EAL PLC Industrial Maintenance & Fault Finding Professional for industrial maintenance engineers, enables companies to avoid costly downtime and increase productivity.  David and Chris are building further on the company’s success with more staff and Chris taking on a leading role.

Chris Simm has now been working at Scantime for nearly 10 years and was appointed Company Director at the age of 25.  At the tender age of 15, he was taught by his father, how to program and work with live PLCs, Chris now specialises in Industrial Programming, PLC Automation Control & SCADA Design and has worked on projects for multi-national companies such as; GE Aviation, OneSubsea and Schlumberger Oil & Gas.

Chris who, like his dad lives in Prudhoe, also finds time to have an active sports life playing American Football for the Gateshead Senators, says,

“My father has an amazing drive to train the engineers of the future which he’s passed onto me.  He’s proven his own troubleshooting skills time and time again, significantly increasing our client’s turnover.  Our training is so successful that we now train maintenance engineers for large companies like Jaguar Land Rover, British Engines, Coca Cola and Hitachi.

“In 2016 & 2017, Toyota USA asked David to visit the USA to train their engineers, giving dad the chance to tour Texas and California, a lifelong ambition.  With his passion for teaching, our dedicated team and custom-built training facilities, we’re looking forward to helping some of the most talented engineers in the world develop these sought-after skills.”

David is a massive Star Trek fan.  The futuristic series has fascinated him since childhood in the 1960’s.  With gadgets that look remarkably similar to today’s computer tablets and smartphones, the Sci-Fi drama was way ahead of its time and inspired a young David to look at electronics and programming as creative tools.

David studied Electronics & Computer Science at Newcastle College.  He specialised in programming, being particularly talented with computer languages.  But David’s natural curiosity and meticulous attention to detail meant it was soon apparent he also had excellent technical troubleshooting skills and he soon began to work in this area.  His aptitude for troubleshooting and electronics was the seed that grew to be Scantime, the company he founded in 2004.

Scantime quickly established itself as a leader in the electronics sector, designing software for Offshore Oil & Gas companies using PLCs and SCADA, troubleshooting and delivering training courses to engineers.  In fact, David became so passionate about delivering expert training, it soon became a focus for his expanding enterprise, their training is now being taught to engineers and students in over 40 countries via their website; www.scantime.co.uk.

At 64, David admits that he still watches Star Trek.  In his opinion, technology is developing faster than ever before in our times.  He says, “Controlling assembly line production with consistent precision is vital.  When problems occur, companies suffer downtime.  Downtime can be financially devastating for a company.  It’s a total nightmare – but one that can be eliminated.  I realised years ago that the answer to these problems was comprehensive training for in-house engineers.  If engineers are able to identify potential issues faster, downtime losses can be minimised.

David said he never went to university, his school years were spent at Ashington Hirst East, he mentions that he was never the brightest in the class until he reached 13 years of age and then mathematics became his forte.  At the age of 15 in 1968 he was enrolled into an electronics apprenticeship at Welwyn Electric, Bedlington, this he said gave him a great foundation in engineering, something that he will always be grateful for, especially the apprentice training school trainers.  At the time, he said it was all hard work, attention to detail and learning as many skills as possible.  It has never been all plain sailing, facing redundancy 3 times, it was his skills that opened new doors, this is one of the reasons he started teaching Chris at such a young age, the more you know the greater the chance that you will succeed in the years ahead.

Having Chris take on the leading role with the company is perfect.  He knows Scantime inside out and is extremely talented in PLC and SCADA engineering.  Thanks to his father’s guidance and help, Chris is now confident that the companies we design and troubleshoot for and the engineers he trains will stay ahead of progress, not just fixing today’s problems but anticipating those of the future.

By Emily