Spotlight on Team Rhino: Michael Gilmore

May 31 2023

In our latest Spotlight feature, we meet Michael Gilmore, Principal Engineer at Rhino Doors. With a diverse manufacturing and engineering background, and a keen focus on the firm’s bespoke offering and research and development projects, Michael supports the wider team to advance Rhino’s capabilities and deliver world-class products to its client base. 

Here, we explore his journey to joining Rhino, some of the stand-out projects he’s worked on, and how he sees the firm continuing to grow and evolve into the coming years.

Tell us a bit about your professional background, prior to joining Rhino Doors. 

After leaving school at 16, I began an apprenticeship as a trainee draughtsman at the steelwork fabrication division of a local company. During my time with the company, it was announced that the steelwork division would be closing, and so I transferred into the engineering division. 

The team within the engineering division were manufacturing a large hangar door that was to be fabricated out of structural sections, and my steelwork background meant that I had plenty of transferrable skills to support the project. 

I worked on numerous high-profile projects for a wide variety of customers, producing products that range from large hangar doors to blast walls, blast doors and escape tunnels for offshore oil and gas platforms. 

What brought you to Rhino and how long have you been part of the team? 

I spotted an advert that Rhino had posted seeking a Principal Engineer and, having previously worked alongside Stuart Lawrence, Rhino Engineering Group’s MD, and Chris Norris, our Chief Engineer, it was a no-brainer that I had to apply to join the team. That was back in 2017, and I’ve now been in the role for almost six years. 

What does the average week in your role look like? 

My work generally focuses on Rhino’s bespoke products, as well as research and development, so I spend a lot of my time exploring and progressing solutions alongside our Chief Engineer. The solution could still be at enquiry stage, in which case we would work with the Sales Team to produce a conceptual 2D drawing. At contract stage, I liaise with the other members of the Engineering and Manufacturing teams to advance the concepts, creating a 3D model of the product and producing arrangements, fabrication and detail drawings. 

Tell us about the kind of changes you’ve seen during your time with Rhino. Are there differences in terms of products you manufacture or sectors you work within? 

When I started at Rhino, our product range was relatively limited, with our main focus on producing NPSA-rated (formerly CPNI) doors. Now, alongside increased capacity to manufacture bespoke products, we have also developed various insulated and uninsulated fire doors for commercial and industrial use, as well as hinged and sliding fire doors. 

Our core product range has been upgraded, redeveloped and tested to cover fire, blast and acoustic applications, too. These product upgrades have also allowed us to broaden the sectors we operate within, serving the defence, transport and infrastructure markets, and supporting our customers to protect their people and assets. 

You’ll have seen lots of projects take place at Rhino – are there any that stand out to you as particularly significant? 

There are a couple of projects in particular that stand out to me. 

In 2021, Rhino secured a £1 million-plus contract to design, test, manufacture and install 20 stainless steel self-closing fire doors for London Underground’s Bank Station, which is one of London’s busiest interchange stations on the network. The largest of these doors was 4,320mm wide x 2,800mm high. 

The doors were designed and developed from a blank piece of paper. The main challenge, certainly from a fire point of view, was that the doors would need to be latchless. These doors also needed to self-close, providing a barrier against smoke and 60 minutes of integrity fire resistance from either side. 

Despite the challenging performance requirements, the project is now complete and is a highlight of my time with Rhino, testament to the skill and expertise of our technical team. 

Another project that is significant, both for Rhino and the wider Group, is our work to develop ultra-fast explosion relief products for the global hydrogen market – in partnership with our sister company, Rhino HySafe. 

There is a lot of talk at the moment about the role of hydrogen as a source of green energy, but its storage isn’t without its problems. 

Working alongside Rhino HySafe, we designed, developed, manufactured and – most importantly – completed full-scale testing of an explosion relief cassette system. The full-scale testing was particularly interesting, as this revealed some significant differences in performance versus the original models, confirming our view that reliance on analytical modelling can sometimes lead to an overestimation of performance. 

While it is suitable for use across a wide range of deflagration hazards, it was tested with explosions of various hydrogen mixtures, which requires an extremely fast opening time to successfully relieve before the arrival of the flame front. 

As Rhino Doors, and the wider Group, continues to grow, what are some of your hopes for the company’s future? 

I’d like to see the Group continue its sustainable growth, exploring different sectors and markets and further improving quality as the business evolves into these markets. We have a vast amount of experience in engineering, manufacturing, installation and aftersales, and I’d like to see Rhino exploring new applications for its products and services, building up new customer bases across the UK and globally. 

Find out more about Team Rhino by reading another of our Spotlight features. Meet our workshop supervisor, Mike Winchcombe, here and two of our apprentices, Lauran and Declan, here

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