Manufacturer to ramp up productivity with £9.7m investment in robots

Chris Rea

Mechanical seals manufacturer, AESSEAL, has placed orders with a total value of £9.7m for 32 robots which will be installed and operated in its Factory for the Future in Rotherham.

The investment will help the company to increase productivity by automating mundane processes and free up people for highly skilled work.

Stephen Shaw, engineering director, said: “This business has always invested extremely heavily in technology. The surprising thing is that the more we have invested in productivity, the more people the company has employed.

“It is just that the jobs that people do become less repetitive and therefore less boring, so that human beings can do more of the things that no robot will ever be able to do. Our CNC machinists are becoming manufacturing engineers.”

Most of the investment will be spent on six robotic machine tool cells valued at £1.25m each.

These robots will be able to produce parts that are in tolerance without the need for human inspection.

The remainder is being spent on 26 auto-store robots to automate the process of storage and retrieval of the company’s engineering products and will be commissioned in 2023.

Chris Rea, group managing director, said: “We have always invested in the future, but we have also always been prudent about only spending what we can afford.

“As we were unable to obtain meaningful financial support from regional agencies, the directors prudently decided to extend the project timeframe by five years.

“Although we would have preferred to do it faster, with this extended investment timeframe we know we will continue to employ more people in higher quality positions.

“It will take a lot longer than we had originally planned, but our priority is to provide safe, secure and sustainable positions for all our current and future colleagues.”

AESSEAL’s Factory for the Future is largely complete and is already part occupied.

David Montero, who has managed the project, said: “When complete the factory is intended to be an architectural and mechanical and electrical masterpiece.

“It will be a window to the world of modern manufacturing with light flooding a building full of advanced technology and great people and surrounded by a one-kilometre long TreeWalk that incorporates a mini-wetlands.

“It is being built to the highest environmental standards and is intended to be the future home for the next generation of local school leavers.”