The facility will be primarily used for the Group’s £11.8 million research and development programme with the world’s largest aerospace company, Boeing.
The space, over sixty thousand square feet, will be refurbished to accommodate the personnel and equipment needed for the Boeing programme. It will also house other state-of-the-art advanced engineering equipment to be used in projects with other manufacturing businesses including a purpose built area dedicated to advancing the use of additive manufacturing in Scotland.
The Boeing programme, run by the University of Strathclyde’s Advanced Forming Research Centre (AFRC), part of the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland and the only High Value Manufacturing Catapult centre in Scotland, will see the company establish an R&D team at the Westway facility working with AFRC’s leading forming and forging technologists. Boeing has hired a team to work on the programme and it is expected that the personnel will be on site later this year.
The programme will demonstrate innovative manufacturing processes and technologies related to metallic components, building upon research previously conducted at the AFRC. Through these technologies and building capability in others, the team will be investigating reducing material wastage, possibilities to improve safety, productivity and environmental impact.
The programme comes as the result of the University of Strathclyde and the AFRC building a successful relationship with Boeing over a number of decades, with the aerospace giant being one of the founding members of the specialist technology centre.
It is part funded by Scottish Enterprise with a contribution of £3.5 million to Boeing for the programme. This is one of the initial actions to come from the Boeing Scotland Alliance, which was set up between the two organisations to explore opportunities to work together in Scotland, with the aim of doubling Boeing’s supply chain in the country. This could be worth tens of millions of pounds to the Scottish economy and could see 200 new quality jobs created over the next five years.
The announcement comes a year after the official opening of the Lightweight Manufacturing Centre at Westway Park, the second specialist technology centre within the NMIS Group.
Speaking about the new facility, John Reid, the new CEO of the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland, said: “This facility is a significant step not only in the development of the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland, but also in bolstering the future of manufacturing across the country post lockdown.
“We are delighted to be bringing Boeing to Scotland at this time to work on such a critical project with our team and play a crucial role in developing the aerospace supply chain across the country for generations to come.
Sir Martin Donnelly, president of Boeing Europe and Managing Director of Boeing in the UK and Ireland, said: “We announced our broader Boeing Scotland Alliance with Scottish Enterprise in March at the AFRC because this R&D programme was a cornerstone of that agreement. Seeing such progress with the signing of this lease amid the challenges of 2020 is a testament to the teams involved and a precursor of what we know we will achieve through the talent and resources found in the Glasgow City Region and throughout Scotland.”
Commenting on the development and relationship with Boeing, Professor Sir Jim McDonald, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Strathclyde, said: “I am delighted that this new facility takes us a step closer to the development of NMIS and marks the start of the next chapter of our prestigious R&D partnership with Boeing which has been growing for over a decade. The project is testament to the calibre of collaborators who see value in working with NMIS, which will offer the advanced facilities, equipment and high quality talent to fuel innovation and manufacturing growth in Scotland. A strong manufacturing sector is more vital than ever and at Strathclyde we have the expertise and skills to play a crucial part in this venture along with the NMIS partners”.
Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Economy, said: “Manufacturing has a major role to play in helping to build the economic recovery in Scotland, and we are working hard to secure a successful, vibrant and diverse future for the sector. Innovation, research and development is vital to that, so I am delighted to see this partnership between Boeing and NMIS moving to the next level. By encouraging this kind of investment in Scotland, we can help to secure high-value jobs that will bring real value to the economy.”
David Smith, National Opportunities director at Scottish Enterprise, said: “Manufacturing is crucial to Scotland's economic recovery and this strategic partnership with one of the world’s largest manufacturing companies will lead to new jobs and increased opportunities for Scottish SMEs, directly benefitting the families, communities and regions of Scotland.”
Speaking about the signing of the lease, Rob Large, director of Canmoor, said: “This announcement is another significant milestone for Westway and we are delighted to be chosen as the base for this leading-edge facility. Westway has much to offer, in terms of strategic location and excellent facilities, plus our programme of on-going investment continues to make the park attractive to the Scottish manufacturing sector.”
With three facilities within the area, NMIS is at the heart of Renfrewshire Council’s Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District Scotland The flagship building which is set to be constructed on Netherton Campus will be the linchpin of manufacturing R&D for the country.
Renfrewshire Council Leader Iain Nicolson said: “Manufacturing is a vitally important sector for the local, regional and national recovery from Coronavirus and we are delighted to see the Boeing project taking shape within the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District Scotland (AMIDS). Developing Scotland’s home for manufacturing innovation is progressing well with the enabling works well under way and I am sure many more companies will be attracted by our unique environment, designed to foster collaboration and provide access to the latest manufacturing technologies and cutting-edge research.”