Thursday, August 17, 2017

News: Cooper & Turner going for growth in wind sector following acquisition

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Historic global manufacturer, Cooper & Turner, which has significant operations in Sheffield and Rotherham, has been acquired by The Watermill Group, an American private investment firm.

Family-owned, Cooper & Turner, is one of Europe's leading manufacturers of bolts, nuts and washers used in the energy, rail, construction and other engineering sectors. It has facilities at its Templeborough Works in Sheffield and at Canklow in Rotherham, where the focus is on the wind energy sector.

Based in Lexington, Massachusetts, The Watermill Group, targets "businesses at a pivotal turning point," bringing in investors with the aim of helping companies achieve their full potential through strategic transformation.

The deal, for an undisclosed amount, sees the acquisition of Cooper & Turner by taking on Andaray (Holdings) Limited and its direct and indirect subsidiaries.

Mid Cap Financial Services, LLC provided debt for the transaction and Grant Thornton UK LLP provided corporate finance, debt advisory, tax and financial due diligence advice to Watermill. K&L Gates LLP provided Legal Counsel to Watermill. Mazars LLP advised Cooper & Turner and Mincoffs Solicitors provided legal counsel.

The vision is to create: "The world's first, truly global mission-critical-fastener supplier with a seamless, one-stop shop solution for the manufacture and distribution of industrial fasteners that meet the highest levels of quality."

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Cooper & Turner senior management, including group CEO Tony Brown and head of group production David Brown, will remain in their current positions and retain a significant shareholding in the company. The Watermill Group are set to introduce complimentary systems and procedures and provide strategic guidance as the company manages the growth in wind energy. Another aim is to support the launch of manufacturing and distribution operations in the United States.

Julia Karol, president and COO, Watermill Group, said: "Cooper & Turner's reputation and track record is virtually unmatched. We are impressed with the company's unwavering commitment to quality and safety, its high customer service levels, as well as its global manufacturing and distribution footprint. Combining Watermill's strategy-driven approach with Cooper & Turner's highly experienced management team, the company has an exciting opportunity to become the world’s first, truly global mission-critical-fastener supplier."

Ronald M. Krisanda, an advisor at Watermill and former president and COO at manufacturing firm, Milacron Holdings Corporation, will serve as the chairman of the Board of Advisors for the organisation. He said: "Cooper & Turner is a compelling business with a highly experienced senior management team, led by brothers Tony and David Brown, whose entrepreneurial vision and operational expertise have been paramount to the organisation's success. We look forward to working with them and their team to uncover new opportunities and accelerate the company's growth in the booming international wind sector and beyond."

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Tony Brown, Group CEO, Cooper & Turner, said: "We are thrilled to join Watermill for this next chapter in the history of Cooper & Turner. For nearly two centuries, this organisation has evolved and thrived – innovating alongside cutting-edge customers and developing industry-leading service levels across established and emerging sectors. Watermill's strategic guidance will be invaluable to us as we continue in this tradition of growth and progress."

Cooper & Turner acquired the former home of Manheim Motor Auctions in 2012 and, to support further growth, a new extension was completed in 2013 to infill the space between the two existing units and create substantially more floorspace. The site incorporates a 120,000 tonne stock holding facility and the group moved towards a full distribution network. Cooper & Turner and McLean Buchanan and Wilson (MBW) joined forces in March 2007.

Joseph and James Turner founded a gun barrel business in Birmingham in the 1800s. Having expanded the business into other areas, including rivet production, the company was amalgamated with Henry Cooper & Co in 1912.

Production was moved to Sheffield and the company continued to be successful, supplying products for a wide range of applications including battleships and Ford's Model T cars. Recent projects have seen its products used in the construction of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai and the redevelopment of Liverpool FC's Anfield stadium.

Cooper & Turner website

Images: Cooper & Turner


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News: Peck House demolition discussed

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Peck House, a long vacant commercial property on a prominent route into Rotherham, could be flattened for redevelopment as the owners begin discussions with the Council over its future.

The building on Eastwood Trading Estate, and its unique stylings, was the headquarters of Joseph Peck departments stores, but has been empty for many years, its derelict state even led to local businesses petitioning the council.

Now discussions are underway as to whether the building could be demolished and replaced with 15 small business units.

The owners of the site, Backer Electric, occupy the adjacent building where they continue to manufacture heating elements, supplying products in high volume to the majority of household brand names. Options to reuse Peck House and the site have been investigated for a number of years.

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Leading Rotherham construction firm, Eton Construction, has been drafted in to work on the plans which show that Backer's premises would remain but Peck House would be demolished and replaced by 15 units, ranging in size from 1,350 sq ft to 3,100 sq ft, facing Doncaster Road / Fitzwilliam Road.

In 2012 a petition containing 60 signatures was received by Rotherham Council from businesses on Eastwood Trading Estate, relating to the poor condition of Peck House.

Due to its location on the frontage of the trading estate surrounding businesses felt that the poor condition of the building was having an adverse effect on the rest of the estate and particularly on letting vacant properties.

A structural survey was carried out which found the building to be structurally sound and secure and therefore the Council has not been in a position to insist on its demolition.

In 1985, plans came forward to change of use of the retail/wholesale store to a church. In 2004, outline plans were submitted for a development including a hotel, restaurant, hot food takeaway and petrol station for the wider area. In 2014, Peck House was one of a number of sites discounted as the location for a new £5m primary school.

Images: Google Maps


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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

News: Rolls-Royce's university partnership stronger than ever

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The University of Sheffield continues to address challenges in partnership with Rolls-Royce, not least at the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) in Rotherham.

The institution has a long-standing relationship with the global name in engineering and continues to develop novel solutions to industry challenges through collaborative research and an active apprenticeship, internship and graduate programme.

Sir Keith Burnett, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sheffield, said: "This university has had a long, long connection with Rolls-Royce - the premier engineering company of the United Kingdom. We are really proud of the research that we do, and the development of all sorts of important things that go into the products that Rolls-Royce makes that we are so proud of.

"It's not just about the research - it's the students that we train, our staff who work in collaboration, and of course in recent years the development of the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC). We're really excited about the future because Rolls-Royce is going to be doing some of the most important things for the United Kingdom."

Rolls-Royce is a key member of the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) and the Nuclear AMRC, both of which have state of the art facilities on the AMP. The Derby firm itself joined them on the park when it opened the most advanced turbine blade casting facility in the world in 2014. The £110m, 150,000 sq ft facility employs around 150 people and has the capacity to manufacture more than 100,000 single crystal turbine blades a year.

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Another project came to fruition when tooling company Technicut found its revolutionary titanium cutting tool too powerful for existing machine tool systems. It commissioned Nikken to develop the patented "X-Treme" setup with Rolls-Royce and the AMRC which helped to achieve a 50% reduction in time required to machine fan discs. Rolls-Royce went on to establish a £100m advanced aerospace disc manufacturing facility in Washington, County Durham and Japanese owned Nikken invested in a European R&D centre on the AMP.

Using additive layer manufacturing (ALM), Rolls-Royce worked alongside the Uiversity's Department of Materials Science and Engineering to construct a 1.5m-diamenter titanium front bearing housing (FBH) which is held inside a Rolls-Royce Trent XWB-97 engine. The construction of the bearing marked the first time ALM had been used to produce such a significant load bearing component, rather than the conventional processes of casting or forging.

Iain Todd, Professor of Metallurgy, the University of Sheffield, said: "We were approached in 2007, right at the start of additive manufacturing in metals, and were asked to make some small sections of components for Rolls-Royce. We were originally involved just to see if the technology had an application in engine development programmes and we ended up being involved in the actual manufacture of components to go in flight or ground test."

Last year saw £20m in Government funding secured for the creation of the MAPP Hub in Sheffield - Manufacture using Advanced Powder Processes. Unsurprisingly, Rolls-Royce is involved in a number of projects; looking at how additive technologies can be used to repair high value manufactured components; designing, manufacturing and testing new alloys ready for implementation into industry; and combining alloys with composites and steels to create lighter aerospace and automotive components.

Famed for its in-house apprenticeship programme, Rolls-Royce has been sending trainees to the AMRC Training Centre since it opened on the AMP in 2014. The £20.5m centre was established to train the next generation of world leading engineers where apprentices have opportunities to progress on to postgraduate courses, doctorates and MBA levels.

Jack Smith, a technical apprentice sponsored by Rolls-Royce, said: "As well as working on the factory floor, we also get a theoretical side, to help us develop better as a person. Not only do I get to work alongside staff who have got tens of years of experience in engineering, I also work with some of the most advanced technology we've got in the aerospace sector at this moment in time, which is absolutely fantastic for someone my age and something I really enjoy."

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"Some of the most important things for the United Kingdom" include the key nuclear sector. Burnett added: "If you you look at some of the things that it [Rolls-Royce] is doing in nuclear, for example, I am really excited about the possibilities of new types of nuclear power plant for the United Kingdom. We are going to have a wonderful time building these exciting products for Rolls-Royce, training the people that they work with and being really proud of such a fabulous British company."

The Nuclear AMRC continues to work with Rolls-Royce and its industry partners to bring its proposed small modular reactor (SMR) to market in the UK.

SMRs promise to be much more affordable in the UK than the large scale reactors planned for projects like Hinkley Point C. Rolls-Royce called on experts at the Nuclear AMRC to carry out desktop studies on potential methods of manufacture its new SMR design, and carry out an assessment of the UK supply chain's capabilities to make the reactor to the required standards.

Rolls-Royce acquired large parcels of land on the AMP in Rotherham for manufacturing facilities. The £110m Advanced Blade Casting Facility is operational but approved plans for a manufacturing facility for large scale nuclear components stalled as the interest in new large scale nuclear power stations cooled.

The firm has said that SMRs could be made in centralised manufacturing facilities and then transported to anywhere in the country or overseas, producing benefits of scale which would drive down costs. Rolls-Royce is developing a patented modular concept which is designed specifically for factory manufacture and commissioning, speed of installation and reduced onsite construction work.

Rolls-Royce website
AMRC website

Images: University of Sheffield


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News: Businesses back calls for SCR devo deal

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More than 150 prominent business leaders in South Yorkshire have answered the recent call from the local chambers to press local authorities to take action over a devolution deal for the Sheffield city region (SCR).

Rothbiz reported last month that the Chambers in Rotherham & Barnsley, and Sheffield, were putting forward their views, along with their members, to local council bosses on pressing ahead with a £900m devolution deal with the Government. Concerns were raised over the loss of funding, the impact on business confidence and that continued delays risk portraying the region as "failing and dysfunctional."

As part of a deal with central government, a Mayoral Combined Authority is set to be created, building on the 2013 agreement which saw the nine local authorities that comprise the city region create a new legal body with responsibility for transport, economic development and regeneration.

The deal includes a new gain share deal within an envelope of £30m a year for 30 years – giving the SCR the power to use new funding to boost local growth and invest in local manufacturing and innovation. In return, the Government will require a directly elected mayor to hold accountability for the new powers.

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Following withdrawals from councils who had originally intended to become constituent members, and with others wanting to secure the best possible devolution deal for their area, the combined authority (CA) has delayed a decision on a way forward.

The leaders of Rotherham and Sheffield Councils did not join leaders from 17 other authorities who met recently to agree to the development of a "single ambitious devolution deal for the Yorkshire."

The open letter sent to the leaders of the councils in South Yorkshire, reads: "A Yorkshire deal may emerge as a possibility in the years ahead, but surely we will be better placed to be a strong component of that, should it arise, if we push ahead to really strengthen South Yorkshire first.

"We believe delay in clarifying future intentions now risks us falling further behind other UK regions. This can not be sensible and we ask you to come together urgently to resolve your differences and act collectively in the best interests of South Yorkshire and its citizens."

It added that proceeding with the Sheffield city region deal would "position us more strongly as a confident economic force, both within the Yorkshire region and in comparison to other UK city regions."

In July, Jake Berry MP, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Northern Powerhouse and Local Growth, said: "While devolution discussions are ongoing elsewhere in Yorkshire, government remains committed to the existing South Yorkshire deal."

Political leaders decided to defer a decision on the SCR deal until September.

Images: SCR


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News: Tram-train engineering works continue

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A second phase of work to connect the heavy rail network with the existing Supertram network is set to be completed this weekend as the innovative tram-train vehicles are on track to begin services in 2018.

The innovative Sheffield-Rotherham tram-train pilot project is years late and significantly over-budget but is expected to provide a boost to the local economy by improving the connectivity between the city and town centres.

First mentioned in 2009, the £75m project will see vehicles running on both rail and tram networks, using the freight route from Rotherham and then joining the Sheffield Supertram network at Meadowhall South. Services will run from Sheffield Cathedral through to Parkgate Shopping.

The second phase of work to assist in linking the Stagecoach Supertram network to the national rail network is currently underway, and will be completed on the weekend of August 19. 

As well as the completion of the second phase of signalling, the weekend of will also see work begin to install the new overhead line system, which will be used to power the vehicles.

The engineering work, which is being lead by contractors, Carillion, means that trains will not be able to call at Rotherham Central station. Northern and TransPennineExpress services are affected between Sheffield and Doncaster where connecting bus services will run instead.

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Simon Coulthard, senior sponsor for Network Rail, said: "Between Saturday 19 August and 0530 on Tuesday 22 August we will carry out work to link the new signalling for the Tram Trains into our existing systems. 

"In order to minimise disruption to passengers and our freight customers the main work will be carried out overnight each night and scaled back in the daytime to allow some trains to run on the main lines. Unfortunately, because of its location, it is not possible to run any trains to or from Rotherham Central and replacement road transport will be provided. 

"There will also be a number of Sundays where buses replace trains at Rotherham Central to allow us to safely install the new overhead power lines. I am grateful to passengers for their patience while we carry out this work for this exciting project."

Other work on the project continues with the new platforms at Parkgate and Rotherham Central stations progressing well. Due to the discovery of unmapped cables by the utility company, a road closure which is in place whilst work to raise College Road bridge in Rotherham takes place will have to be extended for an additional two weeks. The road will reopen on Friday September 1. 

Coulthard added: "We appreciate that this is disappointing to road users and we would like to thank them for their patience whilst we carry out this vital work. We are working closely with South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive and Rotherham Council on this issue. 

"We would like to reassure people that this issue will not in any way interfere with the completion date of the overall Tram Train project and we are still very much on track for the introduction of a full Tram Train service for passengers in 2018."

Echoing comments made earlier this month on the benefits of the project, Cllr. Denise Lelliott, Cabinet Member for Jobs and the Local Economy at Rotherham Council, said: "It's exciting to see all the various developments taking place in Rotherham right now, and the Tram Train project complements the Council's ambitious plans for the borough, with better transport links helping to attract more visitors and creating job opportunities."

Network Rail website
SYPTE website

Images: Network Rail / SYPTE


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