Renishaw has big plans for new Wales site

3 mins read

Global metrology, measurement, medical and additive manufacturing technology 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.

(Video shows Renishaw's additive manufacturing technology - machines will be built at Miskin next year) Formally opened on 10 October by the Rt Hon Carwyn Jones AM, First Minister of Wales, the 193 acre site is currently making metal components for a range of Renishaw's world-leading precision measurement systems, used in industrial applications. The company purchased the site from Robert Bosch Ltd 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 CNC metalcutting machine tools. 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 this year. The site is seen as as providing additional capacity to enable Renishaw to meet its longer term manufacturing needs, as well as 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. It is 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, said: "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." From January 2013, the company will commence the manufacture of its additive manufacturing machines at the Miskin site, as global demand for these new products grows. The Renishaw 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. 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. In another move, 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. 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 held an Education Day at its Miskin site on 11 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. Renishaw intends to expand the Miskin site, and is in the throes of submitting a planning application for two million sq ft of development. 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, with 58 hectares put out for sale to fund the further expansion of activities on Renishaw's retained land. The plan outlines proposals that 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. They 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, said: "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."