THE William Cook group has seen an increase in new orders for its specialist cast products from customers across Europe and Scandinavia as the oil and gas sector shows signs of recovery after a downturn that claimed a number of UK foundries.
The company is reporting “a lot of positivity in the market” and an upturn in enquiries for heavy engineering work at its newly modernised site in Sheffield.
The oil and gas sector is emerging from the deepest slump in a generation and appears to be in the early stages of a cyclical expansion, according to industry analysts.
The gradual increase in oil prices and drilling activity is driving demand for William Cook’s high-specification castings in specialist alloys.
The sixth-generation family company has benefited from the collapse of weaker rivals, picking up customers from two failed foundries in the North of England.
William Cook owns and operates some of the largest steel foundries in Europe.
Earlier this year, the group completed a £20m investment at its Sheffield and Leeds sites to remain at the cutting edge of design and manufacturing capabilities.
These combine the latest 3D printing, machining and investment casting technology to allow the rapid manufacture of complex components of unprecedented size and accuracy.
The group is also a partner of the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, a collaboration between world-leading industrial groups.
William Cook is able to draw on significant additional research and development expertise to help meet customer demands for high innovation, high specification and high integrity components where safety is critical.
Chris Seymour, managing director of William Cook Holdings, said: “We are seeing an increase in new orders and a lot of positivity in the market.
“Enquiries are coming from new and existing customers primarily in the oil and gas sector.
“Many have destocked their inventories and are now investing for growth.”
The new orders are worth a combined £2m a year. As well as new work for the oil and gas sector, William Cook is supplying projects including a nuclear waste facility in Cumbria.
Last month, William Cook Rail revealed that it had won export orders to supply critical components to the world leader in light rail systems.
The business, which is based in Sheffield, will make structural parts for bogies on Alstom’s range of Citadis Spirit light rail vehicles for service in Ottawa, Canada.
They are among the most complex and highly specified cast steel components in the market and will be precision engineered at the company’s new £15 million rail plant in Leeds.
The Citadis Spirit vehicles are designed for high capacity transport of passengers between suburban areas and the city centre and can
operate in the most extreme weather conditions. Alstom has won a £363m contract to supply light rail vehicles and maintenance services to the Rideau Transit Group consortium, which is responsible for the £1.36bn light rapid transit system.
William Cook Rail is supplying an initial order of five train sets and a follow-up orders could cover many more trains.
The export order will run for the next three years and are the first to be won since the extensive refurbishment of the company’s factory in Leeds.
Sir Andrew Cook, the chairman of William Cook Rail, said: “We have invested millions of pounds in William Cook Rail to allow it to
compete on a global level. These export orders demonstrate the world-class engineering capabilities that exist here in the North of England.”