Over the years Mamod has produced some of the most memorable model steam engines ever to grace the UK.
The company has had some huge successes but in the same respect has also experienced various disappointments when some of the models simply did not make the impact engineers would have hoped for. So how does Mamod's team of dedicated staff decide which will be the latest model to roll off its production line and how does it go from being an initial idea to the finished article? Here is a guide to the journey a model makes from the drawing board to the shop floor.
The design stage is an important part of the production as designers need to identify a model that will be cost effective to make and have a place in the market. The company needs to ask itself a series of questions such as: what are the customers looking for? Is there is place in the market where it can be utilised? Is it something that people have been wanting to purchase in the past?
Mamod's principal concerns are to ensure that as many standard parts are used as possible and that the product is something completely new. As the company exclusively buys British, cost plays a factor. While homemade components are more expensive, they are much better quality than their overseas counterparts.
Design ideas can be ten years old and have been archived waiting for the right opportunity and while they can take inspiration from other models, Mamod tries to avoid relying on the existence of existing models and looks to create original products.
Once a final decision has been made at the ideas stage of the building process it then moves on to the drawing board. Initial concepts will be sketched and then it is up to the engineers to determine which parts of the model will work and which others won't. The staff must identify boiler capacity and engine measurements and ensure that they are consistent to match the design they are aiming for.
The whole manufacturing process is very hands-on and involves all aspects of the Mamod team to give their input throughout.
Building a model steam engine is not a cheap process and when it comes to pricing Mamod has to look at the amount of time spent making the engine, price of manufacturing parts and buying them in and, arguably most importantly, what will give the company a reasonable profit margin. For example an oscillating locomotive can cost up to £500 to complete, so the company needs to make an informed decision about how much to sell the product for.
Marketing is a crucial part of building any model. You could have the best engine in the world but if it is not marketable, it simply won't sell. Mamod initially posts image of the new product on its website and its social media channels to gauge a response from the public. For specialist products, they may even be sent to a modeller or a club to try them out.
Staff will monitors modelling forums to gauge the responses from the public and will also have the product reviewed in a reputable steam magazine to help promote the model. Finally, the model can be showcased at exhibitions where the public get to see it in working order before making a decision if they want to invest.
The model will then be put on sale at Mamod's website or ring the company directly.