Spirax Sarco’s £25m investment
£25m investment highlights Spirax Sarco’s commitment to UK manufacturing
The company has been manufacturing in Cheltenham for 60 years. In line with a philosophy of self-sufficiency, Unity marks a continuing commitment to producing its wide range of steam control systems, including control valves, actuators and pumps, in the UK. The site will serve the company’s customers across Europe.
By the time the 20,000m2 facility is completed in 2011, some 300 people will have relocated to the expanded site from Spirax Sarco’s other sites at St Marks and St George’s Road in Cheltenham.
The project at Runnings Road is possible in part thanks to last year’s acquisition of a five-acre industrial plot directly opposite the existing Spirax Sarco site. Unity involves changing the layout of both sites and constructing a tunnel under the road to provide a direct link between the two.
A new goods-in facility will streamline the previous approach to receiving materials, while new warehousing will hold finished products ready to enter the global distribution system. The resulting work flow should lead to significant improvements in customer service, order lead-times and operating efficiency. For example, a 50% reduction in non-stock order lead times is expected.
The project also includes developing new assembly stations, replacing the electrical distribution system and installing new material racking and handling equipment. The company has worked with the University of Cardiff and drawn lessons from car makers to help it apply a lean manufacturing strategy throughout its production processes at Runnings Road.
Introducing lean manufacturing techniques
Lean manufacturing supports a wider shift of focus within Spirax Sarco. While the company will continue to supply its traditional range of discrete equipment, such as individual steam traps and control valves, it is increasingly being asked to provide more complex, pre-assembled systems. These deliver quality-tested, plug-and-play functionality to steam users, who often lack the in-house know-how to build and optimise steam systems using basic components. Lean manufacturing helps Spirax Sarco to streamline the production of these complex assemblies and makes the process sufficiently flexible to offer a wide range of bespoke variations.
The EasiHeat range of packaged heat exchange systems is the most widely used example of a successful engineered system from Spirax Sarco. EasiHeat utilises plant steam to provide domestic hot water and/or heating for hospitals, hotels, and other public buildings. It can also provide accurately controlled instantaneous hot water for industrial process applications. It eliminates the need to store hot water by providing an instant, on-demand supply using a compact, stainless steel plate heat exchanger. This saves space, reduces heat losses and boosts energy efficiency.
While Spirax Sarco’s engineered systems are based on standard components and pipework, each EasiHeat can contain over 18,000 different variations to match the specific needs of each application. The company’s production capacity a year ago was 500 systems, but the expanding facilities have ramped this up to 4,000. Streamlined manufacturing also means that the lead time for one-off assemblies is now the same as for standard systems.
Award winning technology
Another beneficiary of the lean manufacturing approach will be the company’s Flash Recovery and Energy Management (FREME) system, which won the IChemeE Innovation and Excellence Award in Energy for 2009. FREME recovers energy that would otherwise be lost as hot condensate returns to the boiler, resulting in energy savings of up to 26%. The system can reduce CO2 emissions from a typical hospital steam system by 15,000 tonnes per year.
Environmental performance is a key aspect of the Unity Project. Existing buildings at Runnings Road will benefit from new roofing and cladding and more-efficient insulation. Other environmental features include the use of daylight, the installation of low energy lighting, rainwater harvesting and a general upgrade of existing energy management schemes. A new steam plant and distribution system will complete the picture, incorporating over 11,000 metres of new steam system pipework and associated equipment – all designed and produced in-house, of course.
Spirax Sarco, Tel: 01242 521361
Published in Valve User Magazine Issue 14
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