PLS_bespoked_team (2)PLS, a Mobility Networks company and leading vehicle access lift manufacturer, has designed and built a winning bespoke bicycle for a unique competition to illustrate the skill of its engineering team.

Since inception in 1990, PLS (Passenger Lift Services) has been regarded by many as the trusted name in powered lifts and ramps for accessible buses, coaches, ambulances, specialist vehicles and wheelchair accessible cars. Part of the global Mobility Networks Group, PLS has a proven manufacturing heritage and its talented team of specialists continual focus on delivering access innovation. The company, led by PLS Managing Director Adam Beck and Mobility Networks CEO Mike Simmonds, take a keen interest in developing Apprentices and ensuring they reach their full potential. Hence to enhance their knowledge, skillset and enterprise, PLS Apprentices in partnership with the R&D department, have recently submitted an entry to ‘Bespoked – The Constructors Challenge 2015.’ This national competition invited businesses from across the UK to design and build a unique fully working bicycle, with the top six designs being showcased at Bristol’s prestigious Arnolfini Gallery.

Adam Beck, PLS Manager Director commented: “We competed in ‘Bespoked’ as it gave us the chance to showcase our renowned engineering skills and manufacturing capabilities. As a leading UK specialist in powered vehicle access lifts, we were looking for something different to focus the skills of our Apprentices as they complete their three years of training. The project aimed to test our workforce to the maximum by producing a high specification bicycle that incorporated as many ‘lift product’ components as possible. Every part would actually be over engineered to fully demonstrate PLS’s ability to deliver bespoke solutions through a vast range of manufacturing techniques. We only had six weeks to complete the project so being able to work under pressure whilst retaining accuracy and attention-to-detail was also tested during this exercise.”

Adam continued: “From a design point of view, this competition was invaluable as it required the PLS team to think ‘outside of the box’ regarding a non-familiar product. It ensured that efficient assembly principles were carefully considered before manufacturing – a key part of why our production processes are so effective. Our Apprentices were pushed to the limit with all in-house manufacturing processes that ranged from tradition milling and lathe machine work, through to TIG and MIG welding and even pioneering 3D plastic printing for the saddle. We successfully tested a pioneering new adhesive on the frame that can potential replace riveting and also showcased our various highly durable coating techniques.

Adam concluded: “The whole of PLS is really pleased with the end result which clearly demonstrates our ability to deliver tailor-made products from concept to completion. It was fantastic to see our bicycle on display in the Arnolfini Gallery, we were very proud. Our final bicycle is similar to our lift products as it is both aesthetically pleasing yet strong and durable. Plus importantly, all components can be simply dismantled for ease of maintenance. Our finished bicycle take pride of place at PLS and as we have a large 32,500 sqft factory, it is truly a working bike as our engineers ride it to reduce journey times around the shop floor! We look forward to building MkII next year.”