Manufacturing

Manufacturing News, July 2017

Sheffield Forgemasters International has announced a £2m investment into its melting facility to make refined steel with reduced energy consumption.

 

Forgemasters inward investment is part of the company’s turnaround plan and drive towards operational efficiency improvements, and follows its announcement of a new intake of apprentices for 2017 across all of its business divisions.

 

Operations director, Gareth Barker explained: “The investment and subsequent project to overhaul and upgrade the primary electric arc furnace is one of the largest infrastructure projects we’ve undertaken at the Brightside Lane site for a number of years.”

 

This is the first of a series of inward Investments the company is making, according to Baker, with Forgemasters expected to release details of future initiatives in due course.

 

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Liberty House Group has confirmed it has struck a deal with administrators for manufacturing group Amtek UK that has saved 550 jobs. The deal covers ‘Kings Automotive Systems’ and the 230 staff at its Coventry factory, which processes aluminium and iron components for engines and transmissions. It also includes the 60 staff at the Aluminium die-casting plant in Kidderminster, as well as 260 people based at a second castings plant ‘Amtek Aluminium Castings’ in Whitham, Essex.

 

Amtek had a strong order book and a market leading position but struggled with cashflow difficulties. Over the previous three years, Amtek had invested millions in investment programs for new equipment, including the advanced casting facility at Kidderminster and enhanced machining capacity at Coventry.

 

Liberty House Group continues its strategy of purchasing distressed industrial companies, with recent deals done for Covpress, Caparo, Shifttec and the Speciality Steels division of Tata Steel by acquiring the two Amtek businesses.

 

This latest deal improves the position of Liberty at the forefront of the British Automotive sector as a tier 1 supplier to the majority of major car manufacturers.

 

The business will be known in future as ‘Liberty Aluminium Technologies’ and will join Liberty’s growing network of metal manufacturing and engineering businesses.

 

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On Monday 17th July, more than 100 manufacturers and industry figures came together to discuss political issues facing UK industry today. The reception for UK Manufacturing was held by the All-Party Parliamentary Manufacturing Group (APMG) and EEF.

 

Under-Secretary of State for BEIS, Richard Harrington MP commented: “I really believe that business collectively has got together and given a firm message for government, and that firm message is: We are worried about what’s going to happen with Brexit and we entrust you to make sure that for us, in whatever business we are in, its business as usual.”

 

Speaking about the Industrial Strategy, which he described as the ‘cornerstone’ of the department, the minister said: “I think people now realise that centralisation alone was not the answer.”

 

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British Manufacturers increased production last month at the fastest rate since the mid 1990’s, according to the latest CBI industrial trends survey.

 

The business lobby group, said the fall in sterling over the last year – a 12% decline against the dollar – continued to bolster export orders while domestic demand for manufactured goods remained strong.

 

Manufacturers remain optimistic about future orders and plans are in place to increase employment after a resurgence across most manufacturing sectors in recent months.

Manufacturers have also been amassing raw materials at the strongest rate since April 1977, while expectations for output growth stood at their highest since April 2014.

 

Some analysts have commented that the effects of a broader economic slowdown were already being felt in the manufacturing sector and this survey had failed to capture the trend.

 

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The subcontract manufacturing market edged ahead another 6.7% in Q2 2017, with strong demand for machining in June offsetting a dip in May.

 

The Contract Manufacturing Index (CMI) is produced by sourcing specialist Qimtek and reflects the total purchasing budget for outsourced manufacturing of companies looking to place business in any given month. A sample of 4000 companies who could be placing business that together have a purchasing budget of over £3bn and a supplier base of over 7,000 companies with a combined turnover in excess of £25bn.

 

Commenting on the latest CMI figures, Karl Wigart, owner of Qimtek said “Despite all the uncertainty for the economy resulting from the General Election and the Brexit negotiations, the contract manufacturing market remains resilient. Indeed, it could be that this uncertainty is leading to manufacturers to turn to sub-contractors to hedge against volatile demand.”

 

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North Staffordshire based Copper Alloys Ltd has secured several new contracts in the last year with assistance from R&D tax relief of more than £100,000. The new work includes clients within aerospace, defence, marine and petrochemical sectors.

 

The money saved through R&D tax relief has enabled the company to develop new alloys for applications from ice cream machines to nuclear submarines. Established in 2000, the continuous casting firm has focused on developing its technical knowledge and invested heavily in recruiting experts in metallurgy, casting technicians and machining specialists to provide them with the ability to handle complex projects.

 

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Administrators KPMG have been called into the 110-year-old scrap metal business W.H. Marren Ltd. The West Midlands based business had a total of 52 staff, with 45 made redundant upon the appointment of KPMG.

 

W.H. Marren ltd was founded in 1906, processing metals with an emphasis on material recycling. Joint administrator, Mark Orton from KPMG said “Following what we understand to be extensive efforts by the directors to challenge the HMRC claim, the company had recently experienced significant cash flow pressures and was therefore unable to continue to trade and the directors took the difficult decision to place it into administration.”

 

“Over the coming days we will commence an orderly wind-down of the business, and will also be speaking to interested parties with a view to trying to secure a sale of the assets. “

 

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