Heathrow Airport delegation lands at AMRC during Sheffield City Region visit

29 May 2018

A DELEGATION from Heathrow Airport touched down at the University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) during a tour of sites in the Sheffield City Region bidding to become Logistics Hubs for the airport’s expansion.  

Eight sites in Rotherham, Barnsley and Doncaster have been put forward as potential hubs to form part of the airport expansion supply chain that are all within a one-hour drive of the AMRC, which is the leading engineering research and training facility in the UK.

During a week of visits to the hub site contenders, the Heathrow delegation stopped off at the AMRC for a tour of the state-of-the-art Factory 2050, which is home to the Integrated Manufacturing Group (IMG).

The delegates were shown around the flagship research and development facility by IMG operations manager Chris Greaves, who gave them an insight into some of the current projects underway at Factory 2050 which span robotics and automation, integrated large volume metrology, digitally assisted assembly and manufacturing informatics.

Christie Rawlings, Heathrow’s Head of External Affairs, was among those who visited and praised the AMRC for its passion for innovation.

She said: “We have been very impressed with the passionate approach to research and innovation witnessed at AMRC, particularly the team’s commitment to modernise the construction industry in the UK, with the help of new technologies.”

Keith Ridgway, Executive Dean of the AMRC, said: “We share Lord Deighton’s belief that the only way to build the new runway at Heathrow is the smart way: and that means harnessing the advanced manufacturing processes used in aerospace and automotive to the transform the productivity and performance of the construction industry.

“As pioneers of these advanced manufacturing methods, the AMRC has the knowledge, experience and expertise to support Heathrow in a developing a truly innovative way of ensuring that the airport, which currently serves 76 million passengers a year, is able to meet the growing demand for a global aviation hub at the heart of the UK economy. We believe that using state-of-the-art, off-site modular technologies will provide Heathrow not only with a new runway, but a new way of building airports.”

The ‘Logistics Hubs’ will help ensure businesses across the UK can form part of the airport’s supply chain. Components of the airport will be pre-assembled before being transported in consolidated loads to the airport.

Potential sites in the Sheffield City Region include Ashroyd Business Park and Enterprise 36 in Barnsley; the iPort, Unity and Doncaster Sheffield Airport/Aero Centre in Doncaster, the Laing O’Rourke Explore Industrial Park in Worksop, and 31 East and the former Maltby Colliery in Rotherham.

As well as visiting the AMRC, the delegation also met with representatives from the SCR and the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

Mayor of Sheffield City Region, Dan Jarvis, said: “It’s great news that we as a city region have more shortlisted sites than any other region in the UK. This is testament to our super-connected location and our excellence in advanced engineering, manufacturing and logistics.

“During these visits, we will be demonstrating all the reasons why we think our sites would be an ideal location for one of Heathrow’s Logistics Hubs.

“Not only do we already have the infrastructure in place, but our city region is home to a skilled workforce with a strong heritage of manufacturing and industry. Key to this is the AMRC training centre, widely regarded as a centre of excellence in producing apprentices ready to enter careers in engineering and manufacturing.

“This is a great opportunity for us as a city region to be part of one the UK’s most significant infrastructure projects. We welcome the potential boost in jobs and economic growth that a Logistics Hub could bring and look forward to showcasing our sites to the delegation.”

Rachel Clark, director of trade and investment at Sheffield City Region, said its vision is focused on rebalancing the North-South divide and spreading the benefit of major UK infrastructure projects to regenerate the region.

“I know the quality exists here to make a success of significant investments such as this, and am hopeful that we will be selected as one of the final four locations,” she said.

Heathrow has also begun working with infrastructure companies to explore how the final sites could be used for future projects, creating a long lasting legacy.

Lord Deighton, Chairman at Heathrow Airport, said the expansion – and the huge potential of its £187bn in economic benefits - is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform the UK construction industry, build for the future and deliver a lasting skills legacy for future generations.

He added: “Off-site construction is an innovative way for these balances to be met and we can’t wait to see for ourselves the opportunity we have in working with the best businesses in the country.”

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