UK Kawasaki factory to create jobs as sales hit £54m mark

Posted on 16 May 2018 by Jonny Williamson

Supplier of hydraulic motors, pumps and control valves, Kawasaki UK, looks to recruit and invest as it expects sales to jump by £4m in 2018.

UK Kawasaki looks to recruit and invest as it expects sales to jump by £4m in 2018 – image courtesy of Kawasaki.

The vast Ernesettle plant already has 250 workers and huge demand for its hydraulic pumps and motors means it expects an increase on the £50.6m turnover it recorded in 2017.

Lee Crocker, general manager and executive director, said Kawasaki Precision Machinery (UK) Ltd (KPM) – alongside many other Plymouth manufacturers – is growing, this means new investment and is looking for skilled staff.

Crocker said: “We are recruiting for production engineers, warehouse staff, sales management and just recruited into IT. We are steadily growing.”

Kawasaki has a clear apprenticeship & STEM strategy

Reportedly, the firm is also working with the University of Plymouth and local colleges to ensure there is a future supply of graduates and apprentices, as part of its STEM (science technology engineering maths) strategy.

Crocker said: “For example, as part of the PMG (Plymouth Manufacturers Group) school’s challenge, we are joined with Marine Academy Plymouth supporting school projects, career fairs and industrial training for teachers.

“We also take a leading role in the Plymouth Employment Skills Board to identify and develop the skills which will ensure growth of the local economy.”

In 1994 KPM UK was formed as a stand-alone subsidiary of the Kawasaki Precision Machinery Group. The group accounts for 12% of the entire Kawasaki Heavy Industries (KHI) Japanese company, with sites in Japan, USA, India, Korea, China and in Plymouth – the only manufacturing base in Europe.

The 20,000sq m Plymouth site produces circa 7,500 Radial Piston Motors, 22,000 Axial Piston Pumps and 3,000 swing motors each year for markets such as construction equipment, including excavators, marine shipbuilders and general industrial equipment manufacturers.

Major customers include JCB, Caterpillar, John Deere, Terex, Volvo, Rolls Royce and Mac Gregor.

In 2017, 88% of sales were generated through exporting to Europe, Scandinavia, USA, the Middle East, Asia and Australasia.

Crocker said the growth in demand for the firm’s Staffa motors is due to ‘a slight recovery’ in the European and Asian marine market alongside new business growth in the plastic injection moulding markets in India and China.

Crocker: “We are also seeing an increase in our axial piston pumps sales due to winning new business in mobile and industrial applications.”

The company is also localising manufacture of the new K3VLS axial piston pump.

Kawasaki is to better serve the European market

As a result of extensive research and development, the K3VLS has become one of Kawasaki’s leading products since its launch a few years ago, with potential applications ranging from agricultural machinery to excavators.

The localisation of the K3VLS pumps will mean Kawasaki can better serve the European market with this product, which will mean more investment in the Plymouth site in the coming years.

KPM UK already has full design and development capability through 3D CAD/CAM, FEA and its own R&D facility.

Machining capacity includes 26 horizontal and 14 vertical 3 axis machining centres, 30 horizontal and 3 vertical turning machines, 11 hydraulic performance test facilities and the latest inline measurement equipment.

KPM UK have two fully equipped assembly areas utilising the latest part recognition, vision inspection, fully integrated tooling and control systems and electronic work instruction to assemble product.

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