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Manufacturing News, February 2018

 

The three-month average pay settlement in January was 2.4%. This was higher than the average of 2.1% across 2017 with the average for the month of January itself a shade higher at 2.5%. Throughout 2017 there was a gradual acceleration in pay growth across the sector as inflationary pressures kicked in and business conditions improved. Settlements at the start of 2017 were running at an average 1.8% increase, and ended the year at 2.3%.

 

At the start of 2018, elevated CPI inflation and a positive trading outlook for manufacturers are still very much at play in determining pay deals, with average settlements nudging higher again to 2.4% in the three months to January. The monthly average pay settlement for January alone was a shade higher at 2.5%, up from the average pay deal of 1.9% the same month a year ago and the highest monthly average for January since 2014.

 

New survey data shows 44% of manufacturers currently operating annual pay agreements with employees and another 48% agreeing a combination of annual company-wide increases and individual pay rises linked to performance.

 

The most important factors for companies when determining the overall increase in pay across the business is company performance. But the outlook for inflation continues to have a significant bearing, with 37% citing it as the most importance factor. For a sector that is also struggling with attracting and retaining skills, over half of companies have a close eye on changes in market rates, this comes ahead of changes to the National Living Wage and pressure from employees.

 

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International metals group Liberty House has officially restarted the second of two electric-arc furnaces (EAFs) at its special steel mill in Rotherham, northern England.

The restart of the N-Furnace, with capacity for 800,000 tonnes per year, this will triple Liberty’s capacity to melt scrap into liquid steel at Rotherham, making the company the largest steel recycler in the UK, with capability to melt than 1.20 million tpy.

 

The restart follows five months of repairs and upgrade work on the N-Furnace. Liberty House hopes to melt 520,000 tonnes of crude steel in the next year, compared with 250,000 tonnes produced in the year before the acquisition.

 

The company completed the purchase of the speciality steels division from Tata Steel UK for £100 million ($140.51 million) in May 2017. The restart of the N-Furnace will enable the Rotherham plant to double production at its adjacent bar mill to more than 400,000 tpy, Liberty House said.  Liberty House had hoped to raise bar production at the mill to 137,000 tpy by the end of 2017, it said in June 2017. UK scrap market participants have said previously that they expected demand for certain scrap grades to rise, and availability to fall, when Liberty started its EAF operations.

 

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French manufacturer Stelia Aerospace has used additive manufacturing to develop an aircraft fuselage panel with integrated stiffening structures for self-reinforcement.

 

In what it claims is a world first, the company used a process known as WAAM – Wire Arc Additive Manufacturing – to deposit the stiffening aluminium wire to the inner surface of the 1 X 1m panel. Currently, the web like stiffening structures inside fuselages are screwed or welded into place by hand. According to Stelia, the new technique could present an opportunity to rethink and redesign fuselages, removed from the constraints of having to attach the reinforcing lattices at a later stage.