ENGINEERING giant Siemens is creating jobs in Yorkshire as it helps Britain’s railways to operate more efficiently.
Siemens has established a cell at its Leeds base which is securing long term contracts for rail servicing work.
The company also hopes to forge links with more local suppliers as part of its long term commitment to the region.
Turnover at Siemens’ Leeds operations increased from £12.5m to £21m between 2010 and 2016, and the company believes the site could be approaching the £30m turnover mark in five years’ time. Siemens has supported the establishment of the UTC Leeds, a new school for 14 to 19-year-olds, which focuses on advanced manufacturing.
Siemens in Leeds services a growing number of onshore and offshore wind turbines, plus rail motors, couplings, gearboxes and components. The 65-strong workforce in Leeds is expected to expand by up to 30 personnel over the next few years.
Siemens’ general manager Simon Nadin said: “There is room for further growth. We’re entering into a digital revolution.
“Over the next 15 years, we are going to see a massive change in the engineering and manufacturing communities in the UK. “This digitalisation is going to give lots of organisations the opportunity to be more competitive.”
Around £2.5m has been invested at Siemens’ in Leeds over the last two and a half years. The new rail service cell will overhaul rail fleet gearboxes, and add up to 15 people to the current workforce.
Mr Nadin added: “On the rail front, we’ve just received an order for £1.6m and that is for the upgrading of some existing motors on trains, from 90mphs to 110mphs. That gives a train operating company far more flexibility about which tracks they can use.”
“In terms of this site..at a time when you could argue business confidence is not at its strongest, given Brexit..we’ve made an investment, because we’ve seen there’s an opportunity.
“We’re not baulking in light of the current economic climate,’’ he said.
“We remain cautious, in terms of understanding some of the implications of what’s taking place in Brussels. I feel confident about the footprint that we have here, and growing that footprint. We are 20 per cent up (on turnover) on last year.”
“We certainly expect that we will draw future talent from the UTC. But we also work within Siemens with universities in order to look at what talent is coming through.
“In the UK we have over 500 apprentices, we’ve got 150 graduates and about 75 interns. The commitment we have to that future generation is really important. We’ve got six apprentices on site in Leeds.”
Mr Nadin said he expected to see an incremental increase in staff in Leeds over the next few years.
He added: “A proportion of what we buy comes in from Germany, and that will always be the case, but as the business develops, there is an opportunity to place more business with the local supply chain. Nothing would give me greater pleasure than to see that increase. Projects-wise, we would expect to have two or three more rail service projects, which would be gearbox overhaul and motor overhaul to support the existing fleets in the UK.
“On the service side for wind, we’re expecting to see some contracts with the operating companies for wind power which would then secure future business over a longer period of time.
“Roughly speaking, now about 40 per cent of our business is service, 60 per cent is new products sales.
“That’s moving towards 50-50, but I can see in the future where we could be one third rail, one third wind and then a third new products.”
Siemens works closely with Leeds UTC and supports training programmes like the Leeds City Region’s Employment and Skills Initiative to help create a “bank” of UK engineers for the future. Engineers have also been trained by Siemens in Leeds to service the growing number of offshore wind turbines.
SIEMENS is using a growing number of local suppliers to support its Yorkshire operations, including Bradford-based Horton & Armitage, a machining and fabrication specialist.
Pammy Bussan, the managing director of Horton & Armitage, said: “We understand the challenges of lean manufacture and have become flexible enough to deal with almost any requirement in our field.
“It has also helped us win more business from other companies, for example in utilities. Working for Siemens puts us on a different level.”
JVD Engineering in Morley, West Yorkshire, also supplies precision machined parts for Siemens to use in gearbox assembly.