A new facility formally opened today at the Rolls-Royce Bristol plant is the final component of an ambitious investment plan, launched more than three years ago, to build a series of ‘focused factories’ with world-class manufacturing capability.
The company has invested a total of more than £400 million in new facilities in the UK since 1999 as part of a strategy to ensure operational excellence in all of its domestic facilities. Around £75 million of this has been made in Bristol, in the shape of the ‘Operations’ facility being opened today, and a Defence Aerospace new engine assembly facility that is currently in build.
Both facilities are part of a site rationalisation that has seen the transfer of work and people from East Works, which has been sold, subject to redevelopment planning approval.
The new 18,000 square-metre manufacturing factory being opened today will ultimately house 750 employees of the Turbines and Component Services business units. The transfer from East Works has involved the movement of 800 pieces of equipment.
It has taken just over two years to build, following a ground-breaking ceremony in July 2005. Around 100,000 cubic metres of soil was removed prior to construction, and this was used secondarily to landscape the new facility – both to ‘soften’ the visual impact on the local community and also to discourage flocking birds that could be a hazard to air traffic in the vicinity.
As well as being built to the latest standard of environmental best practice, an ecologist and archaeologist were engaged to ensure minimum damage to wildlife and that nothing of historical interest was disturbed.
Mike Lloyd, Rolls-Royce President – Gas Turbine Operations, said: “This is the final one of five Operations facilities we have built in the UK since 2004 at a total cost of £200 million. The others that we’ve already opened are in Scotland, Lancashire, Nottinghamshire and Derby. Each was the subject of a strong business case, and selected on performance … this is clear support for UK manufacturing, and evidence that with a skilled workforce and the appropriate investment, we can compete with the best in the world.”
All of the facilities approved in 2004 are focused on making core-technology components. They were designed using the best practice ‘lean’ principles promoted by the Rolls-Royce Production System and were given the go-ahead after a commitment by the workforces to adopt modern working practices.
Focused factories, dedicated to the manufacture of strategic component parts: they are designed to latest modern manufacturing methods, have to be world-class in delivering low cost, high output performance.