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Manufacturing News, June 2018

Hartlepool-based The Expanded Metal Company has announced that it is to benefit from major investment totalling up to £1m over 2018.

 

The investment programme will reportedly include the upgrading of buildings on the company’s 25,000sqm site in Hartlepool, refurbishing specialist manufacturing equipment, acquiring new machinery and replacing existing lighting with more energy efficient LED lighting systems.

 

Much of the work is expected to be completed by the end of the year. Expanded Metal Company has a rich industrial heritage dating back to 1889 and was Founded by John French Golding, the inventor and patentee of expanded metal.

 

The firm’s site is described as a well-established global centre for expanded metal expertise and The Expanded Metal Company supplies high quality expanded metal mesh products for sectors including construction, filtration, engineering, transport, utilities, automotive, aerospace and architecture.

 

The company also has its own security range, ExMesh, which offers innovative fencing systems and security products which are designed to protect people, property and infrastructure from a broad array of threats. As part of the investment programme, the company’s 75 machine – which was commissioned in 1969 and is believed to be one of the widest expanded metal mesh presses in Europe – recently underwent an extensive refurbishment.

 

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In his keynote at this year’s Manufacturing Finance Summit, Robert Klein – solution specialist at Oracle NetSuite’s Supply Chain Centre of Excellence – describe now modern ERP systems can enable ambitious growth ambitious- following a morning of roundtable conversations, Robert Klein took to the stage to deliver his Manufacturing Finance Summit 2018 keynote.

 

More than 80 UK SME manufacturers participated in the survey, with turnovers ranging from £2m – £50m+ and around three-quarters employing less than 250 people.  According to the findings, two-thirds (66%) of UK SME manufacturers view ‘product innovation’ as either their most important or second most important business priority.

 

Not far behind was ‘service innovation’ – no doubt a reflection of the rise of ‘servitization’ and the growing understanding that for manufacturers to flourish, they need to offer more than just physical products, Klein noted.

 

Conversely, management decisions around ‘organisational change’, ‘investment in both hardware and software’, and ‘data collection’ were all viewed as much less of a business priority. Almost two-thirds (64.5%) described their business as having ‘ambitious growth plans’, and a Further 30% expecting current growth levels to continue.

 

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A tier one supplier of castings and machined components has tapped into specialist support to manage its energy costs after seeing sales rocket by £15m. Shield Group, which operates from six different manufacturing divisions across Coventry, Leicestershire, Northampton and Oldham, has seen sales hit £80m for the first time in its 69-year history after securing new work to supply lightweight parts for the off-highway, automotive and power generation markets.

 

The company was faced with major increases in production and needed to manage energy consumption and spiralling utilities costs so it could manage the surge in volumes and create a platform for attracting even more work.

 

It turned to Control Energy Costs (CEC), a specialist in utility management, procurement and support services, to provide a complete audit of the utility accounts and a review of how it could reduce its carbon footprint whilst also cutting spend.

 

This has proved a wise approach, with the outcome of the report revealing a number of ways where the firm could reduce energy expenditure by adopting new working practices, agreeing fixed utility contracts and introducing more efficient manufacturing processes. One of the recent exercises completed by Control Energy Costs has been to reduce Shield Group’s Green Tax liability, resulting in six figure savings per annum. Other improvements have been the installation of LED lighting across all of its six sites, investment in a new form of melting and supporting training to help employees understand the role they have to play.

 

Shield Group, which has increased its workforce from 460 in 2016 to its current 670 staff, plans further investments across all of its manufacturing facilities and is also edging nearer to another acquisition.

 

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West Midlands manufacturing companies are continuing to outperform the majority of their regional counterparts as new research reveals that they are among the most financially table in the UK.

 

May figures compiled by insolvency and restructuring body R3’s Midlands branch, using Bureau Van Dijk’s Frame database, show that around one-in-three – 32.2% –

manufacturers in the region are at higher than normal risk of insolvency. This is one of the lowest percentages in the UK and equates to 6,023 local businesses.

 

Only Northern Ireland and London have lower proportions of manufacturing companies at elevated risk of insolvency, at 31.6% and 31.7% respectively. Wales has the highest percentage at 39.1%, which is over tour points above the UK average of 34.9%.

 

In contrast, the news is less positive for the West Midlands retail sector, which has a higher proportion of businesses at above average risk than many of its regional counterparts. Almost two-in-five – 37.4% – are at above average risk than many of its regional counterparts. Almost two-in-five – 37.4% – are at above normal risk of insolvency, representing 6,409 local retailers. This is almost two percentage points more than the UK average of 35.7%.

 

The May research also indicates that two-in-five West Midlands companies – 39.3% currently have an elevated insolvency risk, which equates to 109,645 local businesses. In May 2017, the proportion was around one-in-four, or 25.1%, representing 67,762 companies.

 

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A £4.9m grant to enable oilfield services group, BHGE, to develop a £31m manufacturing campus has been announced by first minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon. Nicola Sturgeon announced in late May, that £4.9m in funding is part of a £31m Investment being made by Baker Hughes, a GE company in its manufacturing footprint in the North East of Scotland.

 

The funding package – provided to BHGE following an application to Scottish Enterprise – will support the transformation of an existing facility, creating an ambitious new Centre of Excellence (CoE) that will support the global oil and gas industry.

 

The first minister said that the government funding would directly support people training and R&D activity at the new CoE. BHGE’s investment will fund infrastructure improvements, enabling the company to upgrade and expand its Montrose operations, creating a state-of-the art manufacturing ‘campus’. Reportedly, subsea equipment designed and manufactured at this facility will support activity worldwide, from 10,000ft water depths offshore West Africa and Australia, to the Gulf of Mexico and some of the world’s most remote oilfields, such as the Barents Sea off the coast of Norway.