Mechanical drives business aims to double within five years
Siemens is aiming to double the size of its mechanical drives business in the UK over the coming five years, following its move to new purpose-built premises in Leeds. At present, Siemens holds about 9% of the UK mechanical drives market and Simon Nadin, general manager of the business, expects the growth to come partly by taking market share from rivals and partly through expanding in growing areas such as renewable energy and servicing.
Siemens Mechanical Drives was created from Siemens’ acquisition of Flender Power Transmission for €1.2bn in 2005. In 2008, Siemens decided to move the UK operation from Bradford, where Flender had operated for 39 years, to the new 15,000m2 premises in Leeds, which is about 40% larger. “We had outgrown the old premises,” Nadin explains.
Juergen Maier, managing director of Siemens’ Industry sector in the UK, describes the decision to go ahead with the £1.2m relocation during the downturn as “brave” but adds that “we made the right decision – business has turned up significantly in the past 18 months”.
The new site, which was opened officially last month by local MP Hilary Benn, provides enhanced manufacturing and servicing capabilities for gearboxes, geared motors and couplings, as well as offices and demonstration facilities. All of the staff from Bradford moved to the new premises, which now employs 52 people, including six apprentices.
To coincide with the move, Siemens has implemented a lean manufacturing programme, designed to increase productivity and make delivery performance more consistent. One year after arriving in Leeds, the changes are already having an effect. “We’re such a different beast to what we were before,” says Nadin.
The Leeds site can service gearboxes up to 3.2MW and offers typical lead times of around three days. As well as serving the UK market, the site is exporting to countries including China and Russia. Servicing represents about a third of the site’s activities and Nadin expects this proportion to grow, especially in areas such as wind turbines where Siemens is offering a gearbox swap-out service.