Global precision engineering company Renishaw plc has revealed a wide range of initiatives, investments and future plans for its new Miskin site, located close to Cardiff, South Wales, which was formally opened on 10th October 2012 by The Rt Hon Carwyn Jones AM, First Minister of Wales.
He said: “Today is a significant event in the history, not just of this site, but for the whole of South Wales. We know that Renishaw are a successful firm, we know that Renishaw are an ambitious company. We want to work with them in the future for the benefit of Renishaw itself and of course for the economic benefit of all those people that live in this area.”
The company purchased the 193 acre site from Robert Bosch Limited in September 2011 at a cost of £7.7 million and started a single-shift of production in May 2012 following a further £7.5 million investment in the refurbishment of 68,500 sq ft of space and the purchase of 17 of the latest computer numerically controlled (CNC) metal-cutting machine tools. Currently the site is making metal components for a range of Renishaw’s precision measurement systems that are used in industrial applications.
Due to increasing production demand at Miskin a second shift commenced in August, and recruitment has now started for a third shift operation which will commence before the end of 2012. Renishaw sees the site as providing additional capacity to enable the company to meet its longer-term manufacturing needs and the opportunity to source skilled employees from a wide geographic area due to the site’s prime location close to the M4 motorway and Cardiff.
The refurbished area is the epitome of a modern advanced manufacturing facility and a far cry from the traditional perceptions of manufacturing. It is surprisingly bright and clean, and features full air-conditioning, a ceiling structure designed to reduce noise, and a state-of-the art extraction system to eliminate airborne contaminants in keeping with Renishaw’s other manufacturing sites.
Gareth Hankins, Director of Renishaw’s Group Manufacturing Services Division, says: “One of the key aims with all of our manufacturing facilities is to build a pleasant place to work, but also to achieve the wow factor. Every year we play host to visitors from across the world, and whether potential customers, potential employees, politicians or the general public, we think it is important to present a positive image of manufacturing.”
Additive manufacturing machines to be built at Miskin
A technology that is receiving widespread attention is additive manufacturing or ‘3D printing’, where products are built layer-by-layer rather than by subtractive machining. Renishaw competes in the worldwide supply of laser melting machines that allow the construction of fully dense, highly complex metal parts and structures that would be not have been possible to build using traditional manufacturing techniques.
Renishaw’s Additive Manufacturing (AM) technology is a process that uses a high-powered laser to fuse fine metallic powders into 3D objects, direct from 3D computer-aided design (CAD) data. The metallic powder is distributed evenly across the build plate in layer thicknesses ranging from 20 to 100 microns, forming the 2D cross-section. The layer of powder is then fused using the laser in a tightly controlled atmosphere. The process is repeated, building up parts of complex geometries. From January 2013 the company will commence the manufacture of these machines at the Miskin site, as global demand for these new products grows.
One recent customer for a Renishaw AM 250 machine is Swansea University, one of the UK’s top research universities. The system will be used by a new ‘Aerospace & Manufacturing’ multidisciplinary research team within the University’s College of Engineering including the ASTUTE (Advanced Sustainable Manufacturing Technologies) project, a pan-Wales joint initiative part-funded by the EU’s Convergence European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government. The aim of the project is to promote growth within the manufacturing industry in West Wales and the Valleys by adopting more advanced technologies.
Johann Sienz, Director of ASTUTE and Professor of Aerospace and Manufacturing at Swansea University says: “The project targets the aerospace, automotive and high-technology sectors and aims to create sustainable, higher-value goods. By applying Advanced Engineering techniques, such as additive manufacturing, to both the design of products and to the production process, the project aims ultimately to create new skilled jobs in the manufacturing sector in Wales.”
Renishaw is also pleased to announce that, as part of its 2012 apprentice intake, it has recruited six second-year apprentices from Bridgend College, who are currently undertaking their training at the company’s manufacturing sites in Gloucestershire. The company has a long-term commitment to skills development, and started its first apprenticeship scheme in 1979 and sponsored undergraduate scheme in 1984. Renishaw currently has 85 apprentices in training and this year recruited a record 35 young people onto its schemes, including software apprentices.
Renishaw also recruited a record 32 graduates this year and gave Summer placements to 65 students, 15 one-year industrial placements, plus 60 one-week work placements to 14–17-year-olds.
As part of its development in South Wales Renishaw also held an Education Day at its Miskin site on 11th October, when 450 pupils and students from schools, colleges and universities across South Wales were given the opportunity to see modern manufacturing processes, high-technology products, and discuss engineering careers with young apprentices and graduate staff from the company.
The future of the Miskin site
Renishaw has also announced that it is set to submit a planning application for two million sq ft of development at the Miskin site. If successful, the proposal has the potential to create hundreds of jobs, generated by Renishaw’s own expansion and the new businesses that would be attracted to the 77 hectare site.
The company intends to occupy 19 hectares of the site, and 58 hectares will be put out for sale to fund the further expansion of activities on Renishaw’s retained land. The plan outlines proposals which include a 1 million sq ft warehouse and a new business park. The space could include manufacturing, research and development, office and distribution and will target engineering and logistics firms and their supply chains. The plans also include provision for Renishaw to build an additional 400,000 sq ft of manufacturing, research and development facilities for its further expansion.
Sir David McMurtry, Renishaw’s Chairman and Chief Executive, says: “This site has huge potential. We have already made a major commitment to South Wales and this proposed development could create many hundreds of jobs for local people, both in construction and the resulting new business ventures.”
Formore information about Renishaw’s new South Wales Miskin site and their Additive Manufacturing technology, go to www.renishaw.com.