Wednesday, June 19, 2019

News: Record-breaking sales in AESSEAL's 40th year

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Rotherham manufacturer AESSEAL has hit a new high with an unbroken three-month run of record-breaking sales.

With its global headquarters at Templeborough, the company sells to 104 countries around the world and recorded £17.6m in sales of mechanical seals, support systems and reliability-based product and service solutions during May 2019 alone – more than £800,000 over target.

The business had already beaten its previous record in March and again with even higher sales in April this year, achieving over £16.4m in each month.

Designing and manufacturing mechanical seals and support systems for a wide range of global industries including oil and gas, food, water, mining and pharmaceuticals, AESSEAL is marking its 40th anniversary in 2019. Founder, Chris Rea OBE purchased Aurora Engineers Supplies in 1979, as a small distributor of mechanical seals, with ten employees and an annual turnover of £400,000.

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Jim Hamilton, general manager and director at AESSEAL, said: "We put this fantastic success down to increased demand for high quality products which deliver reliability, swift return on investment and long-term value for money. AES continues to invest in technology that achieves this goal for our customers.

"This constant pushing forward is not without its challenges, however the excellent AES global workforce, coupled with teamwork across the board continues to respond proactively to overcome them.

"Our success is all the more gratifying in light of this."

Group turnover rose 6.3% from £170.6m to £181.3m in the year to December 31 2018, with organic sales growth of 8% when adjusted for acquisitions and currency fluctuations. Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) increased 15.7% to £34.7m.

Group net assets rose to £122.8m, an increase of 18.6% from 2017, and the group held a positive cash balance of £16.5m at year end, despite increasing capital expenditure – which included investment of £6.8m in additional 9 and 11 axis machining capacity.

AESSEAL website

Images: AESSEAL

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News: New cocktail bar set to be added to the mix

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Spirits could be raised among cocktail lovers in Rotherham town centre if a neat set of plans for a new bar are approved.

Rothbiz reported earlier this month that a unit in one of the borough's most iconic buildings could be converted into a sports bar and now a planning application has been submitted to bring another nearby unit back into use.

Currently vacant, and most recently in use as a hair salon, applicant Paul Simms wants planning permission to convert a 2,400 sq ft unit in the Imperial Buildings in Rotherham town centre into a drinking establishment.

The restored Victorian, Grade II listed, Imperial Building was sold in a multimillion pound deal at the start of 2019.

It includes period glass shop frontages and internal galleries that complement the conservation area setting next to Rotherham Minster. 19 residential apartments were created on the upper floors.

The new bar in unit 5 is set to be called the Platinum Lounge & Bar.

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The plans, drawn up by John Box Associates, show how what internal works are planned, including removing partition walls and the installation of new disabled toilet at lower ground floor which requires the relocation of the existing stairs access doorway, the only structural change.

Male and female toilets and a store are to be located in one side of the basement with the remaining basement to include relocated office and cellar.

The only external works, for which listed building consent will be required, is for new signage.

Rotherham Council has requested that a noise assessment be submitted for the proposed new use which considers potential impact on the residential accommodation above the unit. It concludes that the existing sound insulation performance is capable of attenuating sound into the flat above.

Images: Platinum Lounge & Bar Ltd

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News: Steady progress in developing new anti-roll bar technology

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Experts from industry and academia continue to highlight the Sheffield city region's (SCR's) expertise in finding solutions within the cutting edge automotive sector.

The latest project is developing a revolutionary high-performance hybrid composite-metal anti-roll bar for trucks and trains and shows that the technology has the potential to spin out into other sectors such as aerospace and could see the UK take a global lead with these products.

Engineers at Performance Engineered Solutions (PES) Ltd, based on the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) in Rotherham, are working on the project, co-funded by the UK's innovation agency, Innovate UK, with Sheffield-based Tinsley Bridge Ltd, one of the world's leading suppliers of anti-roll bars, and the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC).

The project is investigating the development and manufacture of lighter composite materials as an alternative to traditional metal anti-roll bars. Lightweight anti-roll bars could cut fuel consumption and emissions from rail and heavy road vehicles whilst also improving their reliability. Anti roll bars, also referred to as a stabiliser bars, sway bars, or torsion bars, is the part which stops your car tipping over when you steer heavily into a corner.

The previous Innovate UK funded project achieved a significant 65% reduction in the weight of the stabiliser bar by replacing the current solid steel component with a carbon fibre composite member. The new stabiliser bar design achieved this weight reduction without compromising performance, and offered improved durability, given that the carbon composite materials are less affected by fatigue.

The new project will further develop and refine the design of the anti-roll bars and undertake a wide variety of laboratory testing to simulate the conditions that the anti-roll bars will face during their service life.

PES Performance is heading up the engineering and design side of the project, using its expertise in composites and lightweight materials to design the anti-roll bars. The PES team will utilise Finite Element Analysis (FEA) to simulate if the proposed designs can resist the loads an anti-roll bar is subjected to prior to manufacture. Also, PES Performance will 3D optically scan the manufactured parts as part of the quality inspection process to check the quality of the manufactured parts against the original design specifications.

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Also based on the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) in Rotherham, the AMRC has a £4.5m state-of-the-art centre supporting the development of advanced composite materials inside its Factory of the Future. The centre produced the anti-roll bar prototypes using its MF Tech filament winding system. This is a technique in which filaments of glass or carbon impregnated with resin are wound onto a rotating mandrel to form the desired shape. It also used its CT scanner capability to inspect the inside of the bar, checking the structural integrity and verifying the build quality.

Russell Crow, project manager at Tinsley Bridge (pictured, third right), said: "The targeted application of composite materials in automotive and rail applications has the potential to form the basis of a new era of vehicles. Significant weight reduction can be achieved by redesigning structural and safety-critical components to maximise their performance when manufactured from non-traditional materials.

"The goal of this project is to demonstrate what can be achieved on a heavy-duty anti-roll bar without compromising the safety of the vehicle. In order to deliver such a challenging brief, we built a strong consortium, comprising of world experts in their respective fields. I am delighted that we found such engineering and manufacturing expertise in the South Yorkshire region."

Dean Gardner, engineering director at PES Performance Ltd, added; "Carbon fibre composites are commonly used in high-end supercars, but have yet to see widespread use in the volume automotive sector. This project aims to show the wider benefits that these materials can provide.

"One of the major challenges has been to achieve a strong and durable interface between the materials in the hybrid anti-roll bars design, in order to achieve the required fatigue performance. With our experience in lightweighting and composites, it is good to be working with Tinsley Bridge and the AMRC on this exciting, potentially ground-breaking project."

Anthony Stevenson, technical lead for the AMRC Composite Centre (pictured, far right), added: "The collaboration with Tinsley Bridge and PES Performance has resulted in the development of a completely new hybrid component to meet the challenges of heavy vehicle stabiliser and torsion bars for the very first time; all whilst introducing weight savings that lead to a variety of benefits such as improved fuel efficiency and reduced carbon emissions.

"We are delighted to continue the project to further developing a new design for the hybrid anti-roll bar as the collaboration has the potential to develop a leading place for the UK with a disruptive technology that has global implications; one that will also have applications in other sectors including the aerospace and rail industries."

PES Performance website
Tinsley Bridge website
AMRC website

Images: AMRC / PES / Tinsley Bridge

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Friday, June 14, 2019

News: CW Fletcher lands massive £160m Rolls-Royce deal

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CW Fletcher, a precision engineering firm based in Rotherham, has signed a record £160m long term contract with Rolls-Royce. A deal which means it can expand its Wales Bar facility.

The business supplies a diverse range of industries, including aerospace, nuclear and space exploration. Its "Sterling Works" is part of a 9.5-acre combined site located at Wales Bar in Rotherham where high-strength, lightweight assemblies in ordinary and exotic metallic materials are fabricated and high value-added components are machined.

The deal, the most valuable secured by the company in its 126-year history, will see them supply aircraft engine fabrications for the next ten years.

Steve Kirk, managing director at CW Fletcher, said: "This is hugely significant for every one of us at CW Fletcher and represents many months of work at both companies. The contract forms a key part of our growth strategy which will also see the start of our new facility in Sheffield to add a further 2,000 square metres of manufacturing space and secure the future of our 200 strong workforce. We are confident that the future is bright for advanced manufacturing here in Sheffield."

Ian Oliver, strategic buyer at Rolls-Royce, added: "Rolls-Royce is pleased to secure this deal with CW Fletcher, which builds on the previous 70 years plus relationship. CW Fletcher is an important supplier to Rolls-Royce and the deal helps secure the long-term relationship between the companies."

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CW Fletcher has a strategy for sustained growth based on being one of the first companies selected for the UK's flagship Sharing in Growth competitiveness improvement programme. The company has participated in the bespoke and intense training and business transformation programme which focuses on leadership, culture and operational capability.

Rothbiz reported in 2016 that participation in Sharing in Growth helped CW Fletcher sign a £7m, three year export deal with Kawasaki Heavy Industries (KHI) of Japan for the supply of unison ring components which were ultimately fitted into Rolls-Royce aero engines.

The firm's links to Rolls-Royce stretch back to the manufacture of components in the iconic Merlin engine, developed for the Spitfire and Lancaster aircraft.

Set up by industry in 2012, Sharing in Growth is endorsed by Airbus, BAE Systems, Boeing, Bombardier, GE, GKN, Leonardo, Lockheed Martin, MBDA, Rolls-Royce, Safran and Thales because it is helping the UK advanced manufacturing supply chain to become more competitive and win a larger share of global aerospace contracts, typically by addressing a 20% cost gap and targeting 50% productivity improvement.

Andy Page, CEO of Sharing in Growth, said: "We are thrilled with CW Fletcher's well-deserved success. It is testament to the effectiveness of Sharing in Growth and we'd encourage other ambitious companies to follow CW Fletcher onto our programme. As an industry-led programme our aim is to deliver sustainable business growth in the advanced manufacturing sector based on investing in people and processes to drive up productivity and competitiveness."

CW Fletcher are experts in providing machined fabrications, in a range of materials, up to two metres in diameter. Their modern facility contains 5 axis milling, CNC turning, heat-treatment, pressing, sheet-metal work, non-destructive testing and a range of welding techniques.

CW Fletcher moved to its current site in 1999 but due to a recession in the airline business in the early 2000s, two additional buildings were never erected. Plans have been amended to allow for the third planned building to be removed and replaced by a lower rise second building.

Richard J Phillips, business development manager at CW Fletcher, said: "We have been gradually building our reputation across these market sectors to the point where our customers are now saying that we are the go-to company for machined fabrications in the UK. This makes us proud and is praise that we do not take lightly. These are exciting times for CW Fletcher."

CW Fletcher website

Images: CW Fletcher

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News: Wentworth Woodhouse's major role in new Downton Abbey movie

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Anyone familiar with some of the stories in Catherine Bailey's Black Diamonds will know that Wentworth Woodhouse rivals the fictional Downton Abbey for intrigue and drama, and now the two houses have been brought together on the silver screen.

Having secured the Grade 1 listed property in Rotherham, the Wentworth Woodhouse Preservation Trust (WWPT) has developed a masterplan to secure the future of the mansion which has already featured in numerous big screen and small screen productions. Handing over state rooms and gardens to filmmakers is an important means to raise the profile (and much needed revenue) of the property which for many years has been in relative obscurity.

And the latest big name film to make use of the grand surroundings at Wentworth is the much-anticipated feature film, Downton Abbey, due for release later this year.

Focus Features and Carnival Films started principle photography last year, bringing back the original principal cast from the acclaimed television series to star alongside the likes of Imelda Staunton and Geraldine James.

The television series followed the lives of the Crawley family and the servants who worked for them at the turn of the 20th century in an Edwardian English country home.

As if mirroring the Fitzwilliam's at Wentworth, the new film sees the Crawley family hosting a royal visit. King George V and Queen Mary visited South Yorkshire in 1912 and stayed at Wentworth Woodhouse for four days.

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The Downton Abbey trailer features preparations for the visit and a royal ball can be seen being hosted in the unmistakable Marble Saloon at Wentworth Woodhouse.

Described as a "a 60ft square work of art" and once dubbed the finest Georgian room in England, the Marble Saloon was the entrance for royalty and has hosted some of the house's most extravagant balls.

The room, which saw ballerina, Anna Pavlova, dance for for King George V, has a 40ft high unbroken pillared gallery surround and the ceiling plasterwork is by Jonathan and Joseph Rose which is further reflected in the design of the marble floor - clearly visible in the Downton Abbey trailer.

Peter Kujawski, chairman of Focus Features said when the film was announced: "Since the series ended, fans of Downton have long been waiting for the Crawley family's next chapter. We're thrilled to join this incredible group of filmmakers, actors and craftspeople, led by Julian Fellowes and Gareth Neame, in bringing back the world of Downton to the big screen."

In cinema, Wentworth Woodhouse's Marble Saloon stood in for London's Royal Academy of Arts in Mike Leigh's biopic of JMW Turner. Other rooms were used for scenes at Buckingham Palace in Darkest Hour, in which Gary Oldman won an Oscar playing Winston Churchill.

The Marble Saloon was recently transformed into opulent offices in the BBC's Gentleman Jack and Wentworth Woodhouse was used for previous productions including King Charles III, Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell and Billionaire Boy. It is also used for ITV's prime-time drama, Victoria.

Wentworth Woodhouse website

Images: Focus Features / Carnival

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