Monday, January 27, 2020

News: Forge Island flood works continue

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It used to be the sound of a drop hammer ringing out from Forge Island, now its the sound of new flood defences being hammered into place.

Work continues on the first phase of works to bring a cinema development to Rotherham town centre.

Rothbiz reported that works had got underway at the end of 2019 and that the flood defence and enabling work on the Forge Island site includes retaining walls, terrace seating and high-quality public spaces. Eric Wright Civil Engineering Ltd had been selected to carry out works with a value of around £2.5m.

The contractors have been busy driving sheet metal pile into the ground to form the new flood defence walls. This will form part of the next phase of the flood alleviation works along the north and west boundaries of Forge Island. The flood defence wall will also form a backdrop to improved open spaces adjacent to the Canal.

The works are necessary to help deliver the full Forge Island scheme, which will include a cinema, food and drink outlets, a hotel, and a car park, with the new leisure facilities set within an attractive public space and a new pedestrian bridge connecting to the wider town centre.

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Rotherham Council’s cabinet member for jobs and the local economy, Cllr Denise Lelliott, said: "People may notice more activity and noises on the site as the plans to transform Forge Island continue to move forward. We know residents are keen to see the area develop and it’s great to see work progressing on a project which will bring a boost to the whole of the town centre."

Due to the flood alleviation works the footbridge over Rotherham Lock will be closed until further notice. Alternative routes to Forge Island Car Park are available via Bridge Street, Corporation Street (over the footbridge) or Market Street.

Urban regeneration specialist, Muse Developments, has exchanged contracts with Rotherham Council regarding the landmark mixed-use destination. A planning application is currently being prepared, with a view to being submitted in the coming months. Following consent and exchange of agreements with the main anchor occupiers, it is anticipated that construction will begin in late 2020.

Forge Island website

Images: RMBC

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News: Rotherham-Sheffield a "thriving innovation ecosystem, with the AMRC at its heart"

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Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation, Chris Skidmore MP, visited the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) to see how its model for innovation is powering a manufacturing renaissance in the North of England.

With state-of-the-art facilities on the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) in Rotherham, the minister was the latest to take tour of the AMRC - part of the High Value Manufacturing (HVM) Catapult - to see how it allows academia, industry and government to work together to address challenges around productivity, processes and skills in a range of sectors, including aerospace, energy and construction. He also took part in discussions about the type of investment, commitment and structures the North of England needs to build the innovation, skills and business base required to rebalance the UK economy, reshore industry and recognise the North's full potential.

Speaking about the visit Chris Skidmore said: "This excellent work is supercharging manufacturing in the North of England, demonstrating the importance of industry, academics and government collaborating to boost prosperity.

"Driving innovation in all parts of the UK is vital. We're determined to harness brilliant research like this, to grow the economy and secure our status as a global science superpower.

"Securing the economic benefits of R&D depend on levelling up the Development side of the R&D equation, and, as last year's Manifesto for the North states, strengthening collaboration to deliver productivity and growth.

"It's why the AMRC has been able to transform an area of Yorkshire, formerly best known for its mining pits.

"This is now a thriving innovation ecosystem, with the AMRC at its heart."

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Professor Koen Lamberts, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sheffield, added: "At the AMRC we have a tried and tested model of innovation where government, industry and academia work together to drive innovation that makes a measurable difference to regional and national success. The AMRC model is unique because it offers a real space for innovation - where risks can be taken and the products and processes that emerge can be immediately tested in partnership with leading global companies.

"This model could be one of the key drivers for Northern Powerhouse growth, and we are excited to explore how we can work with other universities to adapt it to support towns, cities and industry sectors across the North of England."

The University of Sheffield AMRC is a network of world-leading research and innovation centres that work with some of the world's leading companies including Boeing, Airbus, Rolls-Royce, Siemens and McLaren. The AMRC also undertakes vital research and development projects with SMEs and teaches apprentices of all levels at the AMRC Training Centre.

The majority of the AMRC facilities are based in Rotherham and Sheffield, but the AMRC and the Nuclear AMRC also have sites in Derby, Birkenhead, Preston and Broughton in Wales.

Last November, AMRC Cymru, a £20m state-of-the-art research and development facility in North Wales, was officially opened. In December, the University of Sheffield AMRC was given the green light to build a dedicated facility in the North West of England - AMRC North West.

AMRC website

Images: AMRC

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News: Rotherham recruitment specialist set to double workforce

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A Rotherham-based entrepreneur who set his sights on tackling the critical skills shortages affecting the Sheffield city region's (SCR's) engineering and manufacturing sectors by applying his love of technology to the recruitment sector is planning to expand his business by doubling his number of employees as well as opening offices in West Yorkshire and the East Midlands.

Luke Bell realised that many companies operating in the engineering sector were being held back, simply because they were unable to find the skilled staff needed to grow. After teaming up with recruitment consultant and business partner Sam Wilkinson, the entrepreneurial duo began developing a specialist recruitment business, which sought to tackle the growing problem.

The duo began exploring the concept and after spending time researching, developing and testing their business idea, they launched Metalis, which is based in the RiDO-operated Fusion@Magna Business Centre in April 2019.

The combination of Luke's interest in problem solving coupled with Sam's knowledge of the recruitment sector has proved to be a winning formula. Within just a few months of opening for business, Metalis has secured significant contracts with some of South Yorkshire's best known engineering and manufacturing companies.

Today, Metalis employs seven members of staff and after enjoying an impressive first year in business, the company has ambitious expansion plans. It has recently launched a new dedicated division targeting the construction sector as well as doubling its workforce within the next quarter and opening offices in the East Midlands and West Yorkshire – with a long term of aim of expanding Metalis throughout the UK.

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Luke Bell, founder of Metalis (pictured), said: "Finding and retaining members of staff is a perennial problem which can stifle business growth. Many businesses invest vast sums of money each year in a bid to plug skills gaps within their workforce. Sam and I had worked together previously and we felt that our combined knowledge could help businesses to overcome a key issue which all too often stifles business growth.

"We launched Metalis with a view to providing specialist recruitment advice within the engineering and manufacturing sectors. When we first began developing the business, we realised quite early on that although the Sheffield city region is home to some amazing engineering companies, many faced similar problems when it came to finding the staff needed to grow. After hitting on the idea to develop the business, we needed to find the right premises to support our business, and after spending time looking at different options we chose the Fusion business centre.

"Fusion is quite close to the Sheffield-Rotherham border [at Templeborough] and surrounded by many of the businesses we felt we could support. Sam and I first began working together through a  business start-up programme for young people in 2016 provided by Rotherham Council and part of that support included access to office space at their Fusion Business Centre. Today we occupy three offices in the building and setting our sights on further growth, not only in South Yorkshire, but our long term goal is to see the business provide specialist support to engineering and manufacturing companies as well as construction and civil engineering businesses based throughout the UK."

Julie Hall, RiDO Business Centre Coordinator, Fusion@Magna, added: "Since being supported by Rotherham's start-up support, it became clear that Luke and Sam are natural entrepreneurs and the launch and success they have enjoyed to date is a testament to their dedication and hard work. Metalis is not only helping a number of significant employers in the Sheffield city region's engineering sector to overcome recruitment challenges they face, but they are also helping businesses throughout the UK.

"Our business centres were designed with the needs of entrepreneurs in mind, offering flexible easy-in, easy-out terms and one of the advantages of being based in a centre like Fusion is that you instantly become part of a business community. Luke has benefitted from ongoing support and guidance from the RiDO team, as well as offering the flexibility to take on additional office space as their business has evolved."

Metalis website
RiDO website

Images: RiDO

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Friday, January 24, 2020

News: AESSEAL make major investment in US manufacturing division

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AESSEAL, the Rotherham-headquartered global manufacturer of mechanical seals and support systems, has increased capacity in its US operations with investments totalling almost $16m.

In Europe, AES Engineering Ltd, the group that also owns AESSEAL, has acquired the leading Dutch asset condition monitoring specialist, Van Geffen.

The multi award winning Templeborough company designs and makes mechanical seals and support systems for a wide range of global industries including oil and gas, food, water, mining and pharmaceuticals.

Over the past year the AESSEAL group has ploughed around $11m into its US manufacturing facility in Rockford, Tennessee. The plant now has six state-of-the-art nine-axes machine tools.

The company will invest a further $5m in its fully owned subsidiary, MS&S, in Odessa, Texas which primarily focuses on the oil & gas industry.

The increased productivity will mean that 85% of mechanical seals and support systems offered for sale by AESSEAL Inc will be made in the USA.

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Pete Rouleau, CEO of AESSEAL Inc., said: "This investment represents the confidence the company has in the opportunity for our products in North America and recognises the importance of our ability to manufacture in the USA. Our ability to manufacture locally will further improve what we already believe is the best customer service in our industry, which ultimately will be to the benefit of our customers."

Chris Rea, group managing director of AES Engineering Ltd, added: "As our US business, AESSEAL Inc, has grown, the group has concluded that investment in the US market is essential to ensure that we continue to be true to our central goal of providing exceptional customer service.

"It is also a sign of confidence in the United States, which is the largest and most dynamic market in the world."

On the acquisition of Van Geffen, Rea said that it would allow both new and existing customers to benefit from a synergy of skills and service capabilities to help manufacturing companies reduce downtime and maintain and improve rotating machinery reliability.

Van Geffen is a recognised leader in reliability and vibration monitoring services, specialising in the prevention and solving of problems with machinery, foundations and structures.

AESSEAL website

Images: AESSEAL

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News: Life is sweet for enterprising Rotherham teacher

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A business providing bespoke and tailored event hire services for weddings as well as special occasions has been "overwhelmed" by orders for its mobile sweet cart following its launch.

Little Miss Sweetie Hire was started at the end of last year by Jodie Hodkin after she left her position as Assistant Head Teacher at a local school, to allow her to spend more time with her seven-year-old daughter and make her hobby of making delicious snacks her new vocation.

Using a Kickstart Grant from UKSE, Jodie purchased event hire equipment and covered set up costs associated with the business.

UKSE is a subsidiary of Tata Steel tasked with assisting the economic regeneration of communities affected by changes in the steel industry

After receiving an influx of orders over the festive period for clients such as Wetherspoons and Rotherham Parent/Carers Forum, Little Miss Sweetie Hire is looking forward to helping couples make their special day memorable.

Alongside her sweet cart, filled with locally sourced sweets and homemade treats, Jodie also offers four-foot LED lights that spell out ‘LOVE’ which can be hired to display on a wedding dance floor.

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Jodie Hodkin, founder of Little Miss Sweetie Hire, said: "The positive reception I have received since launching the business is really promising and over the last month, I have taken a lot of bookings for Spring weddings which I can't wait to tackle.

"As my father worked for Rotherham Engineering Steel for 20 years the work that UKSE does is something that really resonates with me. I would like to thank them and the Rotherham Investment Development Office (RIDO) for helping me set up this business and I hope it will expand both in services and personnel over the coming years."

Alan Stanley, regional executive at UKSE, added: "It's great to see Jodie provide event hire services that were not already available in the local area. Her sweet cart is charming, and I wish her all the best moving forward."

Little Miss Sweetie Hire Facebook page
UKSE website



Images: UKSE

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