Boeing’s £40m manufacturing facility opens

Aircraft manufacturing giant Boeing has officially opened its first European manufacturing facility in Sheffield.

The new Fabrication factory, which represents a Boeing investment of more than £40m, makes actuation system components for the 737 and 767 passenger jets from raw materials sourced in the UK. The 6,200 sq m Boeing Sheffield site is situated alongside the University of Sheffield’s Factory 2050, part of its Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC).

At full capacity, Boeing Sheffield will produce thousands of parts each month, which will be shipped for assembly in Boeing’s Portland plant in Oregon, United States.

Jenette Ramos, Boeing senior vice president of manufacturing, supply chain and operations, said: “In Boeing Sheffield, we are building on longstanding relationships and the region’s manufacturing expertise to enhance our production system and continue to connect, protect, explore and inspire aerospace innovation.”

Boeing Sheffield manufactures more than 100 different high-tech actuation components for the 737 and 767 wing trailing edge. Actuation systems move the flaps at the back of the wing to provide extra lift at low speeds during takeoff and landing.

A total of 52 employees, including experienced mechanics, engineers and more than 20 apprentices, make up the current Boeing Sheffield team.

The company has also partnered with 13 UK-based suppliers as part of its expansion in the UK. Among the suppliers are Aeromet International, Maher, Liberty Speciality Steels and MetLase.

Greg Clark, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, said: “Boeing choosing the heart of South Yorkshire as its first European home is testament to our capabilities, talent pool and strong manufacturing supply chains which are vital to job creation and creating value for local economies.

“We are leading the world in UK aerospace manufacturing and through our modern Industrial Strategy, we, along with industry have committed to invest £3.9bn in aerospace”

Dan Jarvis, Mayor of the Sheffield City Region, added: “It’s excellent news that Boeing has opened its first European factory here in the Sheffield City Region. Boeing’s choice of location is a strong sign of confidence in our advanced engineering excellence, confidence in our workforce and strong manufacturing heritage, and confidence in the cutting-edge collaborations between university and business that enable us to lead the world.

“Boeing Sheffield will also be a key part of our region’s ‘Global Innovation Corridor’, creating a connected set of research and business interactions based on the advanced manufacturing and engineering strengths we have here in the region, and linking people, places and ideas. The opportunities for our communities, for businesses, for researchers and for the workforce of the future are limitless.

“This opening of this new facility is hugely significant for South Yorkshire, the wider Northern Powerhouse, and indeed for the UK.”

Boeing first established a presence in Sheffield City Region in 2001 when the company co-founded the AMRC with the University of Sheffield. Boeing Sheffield is a direct result of this longstanding and successful relationship with the AMRC and its world-class research and development.

The company has also initiated a major new research programme with the AMRC to develop new manufacturing techniques that can be applied to the new Boeing Sheffield facility.

AMRC Executive Director and founder Adrian Allen said: “This has been a dream day for all of us. Twenty-years ago we went knocking on the doors of Boeing in St Louis believing that if we kissed enough frogs one day we would find a prince. Boeing is that prince.

“They have been with us from the beginning; a constant source of support, inspiration and challenge. The one thing you learn working with Boeing is that they think big, so they were able to buy into our vision from the very start. It’s been great to open this facility and see so many young people from across the region who will be playing a vital role in the manufacture of Boeing airplanes. But this, I believe, is just the beginning. There is much, much more to come.”

Co-founder and Executive Dean of the University of Sheffield’s AMRC, Professor Keith Ridgway, added: “Our success is all down to our people and the relationships between our partners. Boeing had faith in us because they connected with our passion and commitment to engineering and manufacturing excellence. If we retain that passion and keep to the vision, the sky is the limit.”