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24 May 2017

Here we talk to Ken Brockbank, our sector lead for advanced manufacturing and engineering, about why he is going Japan to promote our region as an ideal place for automotive manufacturers to invest. 

Why are you going to Japan?

There is a growing opportunity to attract new investors as UK-based car makers seek to increase the number of components made here to cut the cost of their supply chains.  Thousands of manufactured components go into building cars and commercial vehicles. At present, most of these parts are made outside the UK, many are imported from Japan.

The aim of the trip to Japan, led by the Department for International Trade (DIT) Northern Powerhouse team, is to meet with Japanese investors who may consider opening operations in the UK. I want to make sure Leeds City Region is front of mind for Japanese decision-makers.

I’ll attend two investor events with automotive supply chain businesses in Nagoya and Tokyo, and a three day Japanese Society of Automotive Engineers exhibition in Yokohama.

What will you be saying to Japanese investors?

I’ll be talking about our outstanding capability for precision engineering and our cluster, recognised by national bodies, of over 100 established automotive supply chain businesses.

Leeds City Region has the largest manufacturing employment base and twice the national average of advanced manufacturers. We are also home to significant tier 1 & 2 automotive supply chain companies such as Borg WarnerCummins Turbo & VTL.  I’ll also highlight our:

  • Strengths in developing Power and Drivetrain components

  • 6 Japanese-owned automotive manufacturers located here including Koyo, Denso Marsten, and TND Friction

  • Central location - six of the nine main UK car plants are within  two hours’ drive from Leeds City Region

  • 230 hectares of Enterprise Zone across nine sites, all with excellent connectivity

  • 20 research centres and institutes including:

    • National Physical Laboratory

    • Automotive Research Centre

    • Turbocharger Research Institute

    • Centre for Precision Technologies

    • Centre for Efficiency and Performance Engineering

We really invest in our skills here, and have a great story to tell. Borg Warner have created a programme with the University of Huddersfield to offer a Masters of Turbo Engineering.  They’ve also been collaborating with the university on Knowledge Transfer Partnerships to ensure they are always innovating and staying ahead of the game.

This package, together with the size of our skilled manufacturing workforce, the availability of prime locations with great connections, and within two hours of six of the nine primary UK car manufacturing facilities makes Leeds City Region a compelling place to locate. It’s a great place to live too, with beautiful historic cities and towns like York, the dramatic Yorkshire Moors and a great city like Leeds.

What is exciting about manufacturing in Leeds City Region at the moment?

Everywhere you look in Leeds City Region there are world leading manufacturing and engineering businesses. The diversity of what goes on here is staggering and is mostly due to the level of innovation and engineering ‘know how’ built up over almost 200 years of manufacturing.

It is developing all the time. Inonix Advanced Technologies, based at the 3MBIC in Huddersfield, are creators of high performance piezoelectric materials, capable of operating in high temperature. The new technology provides the automotive industry with more compact, lower mass Piezoelectric actuators that supply greater precision and efficiency. This means less emissions and cleaner, greener cars.

Only last week I was excited to hear that Huddersfield-based precision component manufacturer, VTL, will make parts for Jaguar Land Rover.  The company has invested in a new production line to produce complex aluminium 4-cylinder cam carriers, for use in high-tech engines.  It’s really innovative, VTL designed the production line themselves, which has high-speed CNC machines and 12 robots, capable of making one part in less than a minute.

 

For a conversation about how we can help companies locate to Leeds City Region, please call our team on +44 (0) 113 348 1850.