Thursday, September 20, 2018

News: Supply chain soars with Boeing's Sheffield investment

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Leading companies based on the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) in Rotherham are set to supply Boeing's new £20m manufacturing facility in the Sheffield city region (SCR).

Announced last year, the 25,000 sq ft facility, to be named Boeing Sheffield, will enable the Seattle firm to bring the manufacture of key high-tech actuation components and systems used in Boeing's Next-Generation 737, 737 MAX and 777 aircraft in-house, enhancing production efficiency and reducing costs.

Liberty Speciality Steels will be supplying steel bar that will be used at Boeing Sheffield where operations are set to begin later in the autumn of this year.

Investment under previous owners Tata Steel in 2005 saw the Rotherham site at Aldwarke become the focus for steel making, casting and rolling of specialist steels. The steel is manufactured before undergoing further refining at the Stocksbridge plant or the Thrybergh Bar Mill to improve the quality. The South Yorkshire operations have been supplying steel for the A380 Airbus and Boeing's 787 Dreamliner.

The bar business was moved to Speciality Steel in 2012 and a £2.75m investment was announced for Rotherham. In 2013 a £15m investment was announced to focus on high-purity vacuum induction melted (VIM) steels for the aerospace industry at Stocksbridge.

Under new owners, Liberty House, a multi-million-pound investment plan has seen the reactivation of the "small bloom" caster and the iconic N-Furnace at Aldwarke. Production of high-grade steels is up from 179,000 tonnes-a-year in 2016/17 to 292,000 tonnes this year. It is aiming to reach output of more than a million tonnes a year by 2020. It is almost all made from scrap metal.

For Boeing Sheffield, locally made steel will be provided to Maher, a first time supplier to Boeing, who will then supply bespoke steel bar and pre-machined components.

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Maher has a purpose-built head office and warehouse facility in Sheffield and an office at the AMP. A supplier of high performing alloys and machinist of finished components, specialising in nickel, titanium and copper-based alloys, Maher has been a tier two member of the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) with Boeing since inception.

Donna Saul, managing director of Maher, said: "This is a fantastic opportunity for Maher to be part of the Boeing supply-chain, providing machined components and bespoke steel bar to the Boeing facility in Sheffield. The team at Maher are excited to work closely with Boeing and look forward to supplying the service and support required to make Sheffield a success story for both companies."

Boeing is undertaking a major Research & Development programme with the AMRC to develop new manufacturing techniques that can be applied in the new facility on the Sheffield Business Park.

MetLase Ltd has been confirmed as Boeing Sheffield's tooling and fixturing partner. The joint venture between Rolls-Royce and the Unipart Group is a mechanical engineering consultancy that specialises in increasing productivity by designing and manufacturing complex tooling, fixturing and components for a wide range of industries, often bringing lead times of months down to just days.

Taking space in the Advanced Manufacturing Park Technology Centre in Rotherham the rapidly-growing company is initially focused on aerospace, automotive, motorsport and the medical market sector and expects to create around 30 high-end, technical engineering jobs on the AMP.

Already announced, MetLase and Maher's neighbours on the AMP, NIKKEN Kosakusho Europe has secured a long term partnership with Boeing to provide high precision tool-holders, cutting tools and tool presetting solutions.

Boeing's first European factory will produce 7,000 actuation system components each month, which will be shipped for assembly in Boeing's Portland, Oregon plant in the United States.

Worcester-based Aeromet International Ltd and Mettis Aerospace in Redditch also take their place in the supply chain.

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Sir Michael Arthur, president, Boeing Europe and managing director, Boeing UK and Ireland, said: "In Sheffield we have an excellent local supply chain and Boeing is sourcing from these established companies because of their high-quality manufacturing capability and talented people.

"I'm delighted to bring Maher, MetLase and NIKKEN on board as new Boeing suppliers, and to extend our supplier relationship with Aeromet and Mettis. We look forward to working together."

Last year the US aero giant confirmed that direct spending with UK suppliers had tripled over the previous six years to £2.1 billion.

Boeing website
Liberty Speciality Steels website
Maher website
MetLase website
Nikken website

Images: Boeing / Finnegan

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