Manufacturing in the UK

Yokel

LE
Back to manufacturing - is this story an isolated one or is it widely reflected across the manufacturing sector?

Major employer in Newark creates 40 jobs due to surge in orders

Nottinghamshire firm Rototek is looking to fill 40 new positions at its Newark factory due to a significant increase in demand for its plastic manufacturing services.

Rototek, which has a second factory in Worksop and employs over 140 people, is one of the UKs biggest technical rotational moulding plastics businesses and creates over 100 different products ranging from sailing boats to water tanks.

With a surge of orders, the business is undertaking significant recruitment in Newark and the surrounding areas and is looking for new team members to help fulfil its order book.
 
[DRIFT]

Published by: Keith Adams, AROnline, on 23 October 2021.

Blog : Ghosts of the past.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – the passage of time can be a cruel mistress, especially for fans of the firm, like us. With MG Rover as we know it falling into administration more than 15 years ago, and eventually being carved up, our contact with the company is becoming rarer by the day.


Ask yourself – when you’re out and about, how often do you see pre-2005 MGs or Rovers on the road. The answer won’t be that often. And that’s a shame, but an inevitable consequence of the passage of time. Equally, those landmarks we associate with the firm are being erased from our landscape – Rover dealer totems are pretty much extinct now, while the factories they were spat out from are disappearing or unrecognisable now . . . .

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. . . . However, there are still links if you know where to go. And that’s why, recently, Mike Humble and I found ourselves heading to Lillyhall near Workington to look over one of Eddie Stobart’s depot, now downgraded to a fulfilment centre, to seek out the remnants of the Leyland National bus factory. And boy, did we find them.

For most people, wandering around these windswept industrial units on a blustery October day on the Cumbrian coast would have been a chore at best. But for Mike Humble and me, it was an emotional reminder of our lost industrial heritage. And a warning from the past – forcing manufacturers into building facilities hundreds of miles away from their traditional bases is not a great idea.

What is most surprising is that so much of the former Leyland factory is still in place – so much so, that where the more recently-applied white paint is flaking away from rotting window panels and ageing skirting boards, you’ll find Leyland Bus corporate-spec blue proudly revealing itself underneath.

Standing by the management block near the entrance of the site, Mike points comments, ‘that was Barrie Wills‘ office – and just there is where my father used to take me on his regular site visits to the other side of the Pennines. As a kid, I was fascinated by the place, and you’ll have seen me spinning my dad’s office chair, while the wind funnelled in from the and Solway battered the building…’

Yes, Mike remembers the site when it was in full action, probably at its peak in the early 1980s, when the factory was churning out its run of Nationals at its fastest. And despite what the naysayers might unkindly opine, our Socialist Bus of the 1970s was a some kind of success for the area, with around 7000 produced between 1972 and 1985.

Lillyhall-07.jpg


I don’t have the same emotional link with Lillyhall as Mike does, but it makes me pine for what we once had, and resulted in me silently mouthing the words, ‘where did it all go wrong?’. Indeed, my 21st century ramblings around many car factories in the UK have mainly been after the silence fell over the places.

Revisiting TVR’s crumbling former factory in Bristol Avenue in my old hometown of Blackpool had the same effect on me in 2010, as it brought back memories of my own childhood visit to the place as a 10-year old car nut. While nosing around the remnants of Plaxton’s site in Scarborough (where I lived for a couple of years before moving to Blackpool) a couple of years ago, sparked long-lost recollections of freshly painted coaches out for test drives along Seamer Road.

Today, you’ll find remnants of the now long-lost manufacturing all over the country if you look hard enough, and care enough. But few are quite so intact as this one, and I am pleased about that – even if it’s probably more a reflection of the lack of pace of West Cumbria’s regeneration than its owner’s intention to preserve the place.

Having said that, I found myself considering emailing Eddie Stobart to see if any of those mouldering office buildings were rentable. Sad, aren’t I ?!


[/DRIFT]
 
Published by: Felix Page, AUTOCAR magazine, on 26 October 2021.

Britishvolt to secure £200m from UK government for battery factory.

FT reports government will soon sign off investment package; Stellantis named as potential Britishvolt customer.


Battery manufacturer Britishvolt is on the verge of securing some £200 million of government funding to support the construction of its new Northumberland factory.

According to the Financial Times, the start-up stands to benefit from the government's £850m fund for attracting EV battery production to the UK, which is crucial to sustaining the country's automotive industry as the planned 2030 ban on the sale of new combustion-engined cars looms . . .

. . . The FT cites three people with knowledge of the talks, which have been ongoing for more than a year, who suggested a final amount of between £200m and £250m is likely to be allocated "within weeks". Overall, the Blyth site is anticipated to cost around £2.6 billion to build.

It has also emerged that Britishvolt has begun discussions with several potential customers, having broken ground at the construction site just last month.

One company named in the FT's report is Stellantis, which will soon repurpose its Ellesmere Port factory, which currently handles production of the Vauxhall Astra, to build a range of small electric vans for the Citroën, Peugeot and Vauxhall brands. Securing local battery supply for these vehicles would significantly reduce production costs.

The FT also reports that Stellantis could use Britishvolt-built batteries for EVs produced outside the UK, but no official details have been given.

Other companies named as potential customers include UK-based commercial EV start-up Arrival, electric truck manufacturer Tevva Motors and Canadian firm Lion Electric, none of which have commented publicly on the report.

Britishvolt has yet to comment on the report.

The company's planned facility will be among the first so-called 'gigafactories' to enter operation in the UK.

Nissan builds batteries for the Leaf hatchback in partnership with Envision AESC at its site in nearby Sunderland and will dramatically expand this facility in the coming years, while plans for a new battery factory at Coventry Airport are fast progressing. .

factory-render-britishvolt-3_0.jpg


 

Yokel

LE
Also in the automotive sector: Bentley announce biggest-ever trainee intake for 2022 - MTF MFG

Bentley Motors today announced the company’s biggest-ever intake of trainees for 2022. A phased recruitment drive starting today on www.bentleycareers.com will see a total of 113 new recruits beginning their careers at Bentley headquarters in Crewe, working across all sectors of the business.

The future talent will consist of apprentices, undergraduates and graduates, all joining the most sought-after, sustainable luxury car brand in the world. The successful individuals will take up positions in departments such as Lean Manufacturing, Marketing and Communications, Systems and Electrical Engineering and Business Management.

Additionally, around 20 per cent of the intake will be in digital skills such as software engineering and data science, as Bentley focuses on developing the skillsets required to help shape the company’s ambitious Beyond100 strategy.
 

Yokel

LE
The advertising algorithms must still think that I am running an engineering company - sadly not. I clicked on one of the links and was taken to the website of a specialist company. I thought it was interesting so I will let you have a look.

Electro Mechanical Systems

Clicking on 'About Us' shows us that this is the sort of company we need but probably take for granted, Hopefully politicians are changing and realise that they sometimes have to act.

EMS was founded in mid-1985 and quickly established itself as the leading supplier of high quality precision small DC motors and linear actuators. We are sole UK distributors for the FAULHABER Group as well as MPS and Piezomotor; manufacturers and suppliers of precision micro-drives, including DC motors; brushless motors; stepper motors; linear motors and associated gearheads and encoders. Complimentary products include iron-core DC motors from KAG, stepper motors and brushed DC motors from Nidec Servo and brushed and brushless gear motors from Nidec Motors & Actuators. In addition we distribute high quality linear actuators and telescopic columns from SKF and Mingardi, used extensively in medical; healthcare; agriculture; building automation and many other industries.

In 1990 we established our own manufacturing facility specialising in the design and manufacture of bespoke drive systems. Growth has been maintained with repeated expansion and capital investment to the point where we now have a modern 3,000m² facility. We have a large capacity machine shop equipped with the latest CNC machine tools and a dedicated gear cutting suite, as well as substantial assembly area. EMS offers design engineers a complete service; our scope of supply stretches from the supply of proprietary motors, gearheads, encoders and actuation systems, right the way through to added value in the way of pinions and wiring looms, to bespoke design and manufacture of complete drive systems to meet your exact applications needs.
 

Yokel

LE
As I never intended this thread to simply be a collection of good news stories, I was pleased to find the following article on the EMS website.

Scaling up production, fast

The IHS Markit/CIPS Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) value for May 2021 demonstrated that UK manufacturing is growing at its fastest rate in almost 30 years. Manufacturers must increase production to capitalise on the record growth in new orders. However, scaling up production quickly without additional floor space and workers can be challenging. Here Dave Walsha, sales manager at precision drive system supplier EMS, explores how expanding automation holds the answer.

In the PMI, any reading above 50 indicates growth. The value announced for May 2021 was 65.6 — the highest reading since the survey began in 1992. The easing of lockdown has unleashed pent-up demand, causing a steep increase in production volumes.

The plentiful market provides hope for manufacturers to bounce back after the pandemic by using the high demand to make up for lost profit. To make the most of this opportunity, manufacturers must quickly ensure their facilities are ready to accommodate the influx of new orders.


Accelerate automation

Scaling up production requires investment in high quality equipment. The benefits of automation are widely known, and most manufacturers aim to incorporate it into production to some degree. However, many of these targets have so far only resulted in plans, pilots or small scale automation projects.

In fact, research conducted earlier this year by supply chain specialist Balloon One found that the UK lags behind ten other nations with similar levels of manufacturing, including Sweden, USA and Italy, for robot density. The investigation also found that the UK falls behind in productivity levels, which is arguably due to lower levels of automation.

Investing in automated equipment is an efficient way to increase production, as it doesn’t require the company to hire a large number of extra workers. In addition, it’s possible to increase manufacturing productivity in the same floor space.

Select reliable components

In order for UK manufacturers to profit from growing demand, they must widely rollout automation across the supply chain. However, not all automated machines are built equal, and the components engineered into their systems play a large role in their overall performance. Manufacturers must remember that automation is an investment, that must be thought through with care.

When scaling up production, it’s important that manufacturers and design engineers don’t look for quick fixes. The new machines implemented should be not only able to accommodate the recent rise in orders, but also continue to benefit production in the long run.

Therefore, it’s important that automated machinery components, particularly their powering motors, are selected for reliability. An unreliable motor can ultimately lead to failure, but it’s important to note that, before it even reaches that point, a motor can cause inefficiency. In fact, an inefficient motor can result in electricity running costs that account for 97 per cent of its lifetime costing.

Automated equipment should be designed with dependable motors, such as the DMN range of brushed motors, which are renowned for their high quality and long life, while remaining a cost effective solution.

The motors have an optimised brush design that allows intermittent operation over one million cycles, and a continuous operating life of 3,000 hours. This long life cycle is achieved while still delivering a high output due to the range’s enhanced heat dissipation and resistance.

UK motor supplier EMS has a selection of sample stock of the DMN brushed motor range available for express delivery to accelerate development of automated equipment. EMS also has a selection of complementary gear heads, reduction ratios and encoders available to suit a variety of manufacturing applications.

After the challenges of the pandemic, the UK manufacturing sector is now seeing a sharp rise in demand. Manufacturers must prepare their factories to accommodate the increased volume of orders. Facility managers who widely implement automated equipment designed with reliable and cost effective components can quickly scale up production to meet rising demand.
 

Allan74

Old-Salt
Published by: Felix Page, AUTOCAR magazine, on 26 October 2021.

Britishvolt to secure £200m from UK government for battery factory.

FT reports government will soon sign off investment package; Stellantis named as potential Britishvolt customer.


Battery manufacturer Britishvolt is on the verge of securing some £200 million of government funding to support the construction of its new Northumberland factory.

According to the Financial Times, the start-up stands to benefit from the government's £850m fund for attracting EV battery production to the UK, which is crucial to sustaining the country's automotive industry as the planned 2030 ban on the sale of new combustion-engined cars looms . . .



factory-render-britishvolt-3_0.jpg


There won't be an electric car industry unless the price of EVs drop through the floor... EVs with their vast taxpayer funded sweetener...a mechanism for wealthy people to get money from much poorer people who could never afford an EV (and of course all EVs are made using kit made in filthy industrial processes).
 

Yokel

LE
Truly excellent. We could do with dozens of places like this all over the country.

What - instead of performing arts? Are you some kind of savage? I thought that the University Technical Colleges were supposed to provide a renewed emphasis on STEM education and training?

University Technical Colleges

We also need training for adult learners and those who need to refresh their skills.
 

endure

GCM
What - instead of performing arts? Are you some kind of savage? I thought that the University Technical Colleges were supposed to provide a renewed emphasis on STEM education and training?

University Technical Colleges

We also need training for adult learners and those who need to refresh their skills.
UTCs were set up by a bloke with a degree in history. The JCB Academy was set up by a bunch of exceptional engineering companies. ;-)
 

Yokel

LE
UTCs were set up by a bloke with a degree in history. The JCB Academy was set up by a bunch of exceptional engineering companies. ;-)

Are you referring to Michael 'we are tired of experts' Gove?

The UTCs are partnered with various Universities with a track record for teaching and research, and some major employers such as Government departments, the NHS, the Armed Forces, the utilities, and top tier construction, pharmaceutical, and engineering companies - including JCB.
 

endure

GCM
Are you referring to Michael 'we are tired of experts' Gove?

The UTCs are partnered with various Universities with a track record for teaching and research, and some major employers such as Government departments, the NHS, the Armed Forces, the utilities, and top tier construction, pharmaceutical, and engineering companies - including JCB.
No I'm talking about Baron Baker of Darling whose idea it was in the first place...


 
Are you referring to Michael 'we are tired of experts' Gove?

The UTCs are partnered with various Universities with a track record for teaching and research, and some major employers such as Government departments, the NHS, the Armed Forces, the utilities, and top tier construction, pharmaceutical, and engineering companies - including JCB.

A very broad generalisation . . . but, from the link, are all these listed,

"University of (enter preferred county name)"

what I understand to have been the old polytechnics/Technical Colleges, before Blair insisted EVERYONE should go to a "University", and so respectable Technical Colleges/institutions, changed their names, to accommodate the new Blairite mantra . . .

. . . as opposed to the (more) traditional, long established " . . . Russell Group’s 24 members (of) world-class, research-intensive universities" ?!

 

endure

GCM
A very broad generalisation . . . but, from the link, are all these listed,

"University of (enter preferred county name)"

what I understand to have been the old polytechnics/Technical Colleges, before Blair insisted EVERYONE should go to a "University", and so respectable Technical Colleges/institutions, changed their names, to accommodate the new Blairite mantra . . .

. . . as opposed to the (more) traditional, long established " . . . Russell Group’s 24 members (of) world-class, research-intensive universities" ?!

The University of Derby used to be the Kedleston Road Technical College and it used to turn out thousands of day release students from all the local employers...

Rolls Royce Aero
Leys
International Combustion
Smiths Clocks
etc. etc.
 
Coming late to this thread I have denied myself the opportunity to read all of it.
However I continue to be impressed by the positive outlook linked by many posters.
Indeed, the proof that manufacturing is not yet fully deceased in the UK, is quite heartwarming for more than nostalgic reasons.
I have 3 teenage sons in the UK. The brightest of which just started a degree in accountancy.
The younger siblings, being more mechanically adept have now left school and embarked on engineering apprenticeships in the large goods vehicle business.
The prospects for all 3 determined by their individual skill sets are supported by family.
It has occurred to me that, despite sensible choices with a promising future, the UK manufacturing business is determined largely by our growing expertise in specialist areas. This specialisation was brought about by older methodology in manufacturing being outstripped by costs, more easily adopted by low wage economies in Asia.
The former employees of large numbers of production staff have been forced to rely on innovation and specialisation, in order to find a niche product related to the improvement of existing engineering skills.
Specialized steel products and major high end engineering parts that Asia cannot currently compete with, will be the salvation of what remains of our manufacturing industry.
Does this require the dredging of engineering practices, or the employment of the knowledge economy? The answer is probably a bit of both.
Aircraft engines and systems, batteries for the future of EVs? Specialised automotive contributions can and do flow from British entrepreneurs. The German motor industry relies heavily on engineering excellence to support the likes of BMW, Mercedes and VAG, so the market for quality, high end engineering and specialisation exists at the top end.
Can UK spirit and specialisation thrive on its own, or will support from deep thinking business and political input be required?

If an old dummy like me can see it, surely a combination of industrial heritage, smart business and academic inputs can be encouraged to join forces and promote a much needed win for manufacturing?
 

Yokel

LE
No I'm talking about Baron Baker of Darling whose idea it was in the first place...



Well I suppose that you could argue that politicians are generalists rather than specialists, and we need Bakers - ideally female ones with firm baps and inviting buns.

Does it really matter who suggested it?

A very broad generalisation . . . but, from the link, are all these listed,

"University of (enter preferred county name)"

what I understand to have been the old polytechnics/Technical Colleges, before Blair insisted EVERYONE should go to a "University", and so respectable Technical Colleges/institutions, changed their names, to accommodate the new Blairite mantra . . .

. . . as opposed to the (more) traditional, long established " . . . Russell Group’s 24 members (of) world-class, research-intensive universities" ?!


No. Technical Colleges were Further Education, Polytechnics were Higher Education but unable to award degrees in their own name, until John Major's reforms. There was and still is a lot of snobbery and ignorance regarding education. A levels followed by a red brick uni is not the only route.

I am pretty certain that the Major government also set up Modern Apprenticeships - another important part of education and training.

There has never been a Golden Age of education and training.

Coming late to this thread I have denied myself the opportunity to read all of it.
However I continue to be impressed by the positive outlook linked by many posters.
Indeed, the proof that manufacturing is not yet fully deceased in the UK, is quite heartwarming for more than nostalgic reasons.
I have 3 teenage sons in the UK. The brightest of which just started a degree in accountancy.
The younger siblings, being more mechanically adept have now left school and embarked on engineering apprenticeships in the large goods vehicle business.
The prospects for all 3 determined by their individual skill sets are supported by family.
It has occurred to me that, despite sensible choices with a promising future, the UK manufacturing business is determined largely by our growing expertise in specialist areas. This specialisation was brought about by older methodology in manufacturing being outstripped by costs, more easily adopted by low wage economies in Asia.
The former employees of large numbers of production staff have been forced to rely on innovation and specialisation, in order to find a niche product related to the improvement of existing engineering skills.
Specialized steel products and major high end engineering parts that Asia cannot currently compete with, will be the salvation of what remains of our manufacturing industry.
Does this require the dredging of engineering practices, or the employment of the knowledge economy? The answer is probably a bit of both.
Aircraft engines and systems, batteries for the future of EVs? Specialised automotive contributions can and do flow from British entrepreneurs. The German motor industry relies heavily on engineering excellence to support the likes of BMW, Mercedes and VAG, so the market for quality, high end engineering and specialisation exists at the top end.
Can UK spirit and specialisation thrive on its own, or will support from deep thinking business and political input be required?

If an old dummy like me can see it, surely a combination of industrial heritage, smart business and academic inputs can be encouraged to join forces and promote a much needed win for manufacturing?

I am reading this on my mobile phone and may have missed things, but yes I think you have it. The sweet spot for British manufacturing is low to medium volume, fast response, and high technology and quality.
 
No. Technical Colleges were Further Education, Polytechnics were Higher Education but unable to award degrees in their own name, until John Major's reforms. There was and still is a lot of snobbery and ignorance regarding education. A levels followed by a red brick uni is not the only route.
There were plenty of universities that couldn’t award their own degrees until the 80s. London University had a lucrative business in external degrees. IIRC Keele was awarding London degrees in the 80s.
 
. . . Technical Colleges were Further Education, Polytechnics were Higher Education but unable to award degrees in their own name, until John Major's reforms. There was and still is a lot of snobbery and ignorance regarding education. A levels followed by a red brick uni is not the only route.

I am pretty certain that the Major government also set up Modern Apprenticeships - another important part of education and training.

There has never been a Golden Age of education and training.
(Drift)

If the "snobbery" barb, is aimed at me, I reject it totally. I don't think I am being particularly "precious" about the education system as I remember it, in the 1970s.

I remember it being clearly defined, with different systems for different purposes, to equip different folk for different employment.

Universities were (primarily) academic RESEARCH establishments, with a requirement for students to be inquisitive, enquiring, with a lot of self-motivation.

The opportunities offered by individual Colleges of Commerce (where I went initially), Colleges of Art, and Colleges of Technology, were occasionally merged into Polytechnics . . . which happened in Hull, where I was. In contrast to the self-motivated, inquisitive, enquiring, exploration, learning, associated with universities, Colleges were characterised by "lectures" during which knowledge was provided for you by the teaching staff, and disseminated by them “talking-at-you”.

The two different systems were simply different. One was not necessarily better than the other. They were not necessarily hierarchical . . . although a lot of reverse-snobs, assumed this to be the case . . . including politicians, pandering to the unfortunate characteristics of envy amongst sections of their electorate, who harboured resentment against those they (themselves) PERCEIVED to be "better" (educated) than themselves.

The system that I recall, equipped folk for employment that was appropriate to the abilities, motivation and (to be acquired), skills and knowledge.

There is enough anecdotal evidence of "academics" being all "fingers & thumbs" when faced with the task of changing a light-bulb . . . never mind a tap-washer, door-hinge, central-heating system . . . or, laying bricks.

Similarly, there is enough anecdotal evidence of less academically capable individuals, being "all-at-sea", when expected to resolve more abstract, intangible, conundrums.

What I dislike, is the deliberate blurring of the previously clear "fit-for-purpose" distinctions described above - introduced and motivated by politicians - for no other reason than to mollify the (unnecessary) envy and resentment amongst their electorate, that the left-wing politicians have (always) been responsible for encouraging :( .

It is suggested that the consequences, the damage caused to our education system, over recent generations, is now self-evident. The government is having to put specifical, extra, resources and emphasis on STEM subjects. NHS staffing requirements, are supplemented by overseas trained graduates.

The renewed focus on technical, practical, apprenticeships is long overdue . . . and welcome. I just wonder WHY, the institutions providing the training, consider it necessary to include the word "University" in their titles ?!

It is a surprise that the vacuous, promise, of a qualification described as a "degree" in such incongruous subjects, as "media studies", has not yet been “called-out” by the students themselves!!

(Working on my phone, and the above will probably be refined, reworked, when I can get at the laptop ;) ).

(/Drift)
 
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Yokel

LE
But was the old system fit for purpose? I am not old enough to remember many of the things you and @bobthebuilder talk about, but the idea that there was ever a 'Golden' age is daft. Why did we lose so much of our industry after 1945? Why has policy making frequently been poor? Largely because management and the civil service were largely staffed by 'Hoorah Henry' types who knew a lot about the literature of ancient Greece, but little of direct relevance to a modern society and economy. Meanwhile the more practical types got treated with distain by the Arts types.

Likewise the tripartite secondary education system failed due to a lack of funding, driven by attitudes.

Perhaps 'nostalgia' would be a better term?

As for snobbery - yes it does exist. It is centripetal to this thread. Old companies like ICI had a snobbish anti technical culture, despite depending on Science and Technology for the existence. In his books and TV programmes, the late Sir John Harvey Jones talked about this.

As for one of your last points, maybe the reason that' University' is included in the title is to try to tell people that vocational training and workplace training can still lead to University qualifications - including degrees.
 

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