BAM’s £25m contract to build factory of the future for Rolls

BAM Construction has won the £25m contract to build a futuristic factory for Rolls-Royce in Rotherham, the Yorkshire Post can reveal.

The firm beat competition from four rivals to create the 42,000 sq ft plant, which will manufacture high-technology turbine blades for jet engines.

More than 1,000 people are expected to work on the project during the construction phase. Once complete, the £80m factory will support 156 skilled engineering jobs.

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BAM is using state-of-the-art 3D modelling software to design, plan and manage the development at the Advanced Manufacturing Park.

James Wimpenny, regional director, said BAM will build the factory, manage the fit-out and ensure that all the machinery is fully operational for Rolls-Royce.

He described the software – known as Building Information Modelling – as “exciting” and said BAM is leading the way in embracing the new technology, which allows the company to accurately predict challenges in construction and build in solutions during the work.

“Rolls-Royce is investing significant money,” he said.

“It’s great we are involved in it. It is good for the area and it is good for the region.

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“It is one of the first significant private sector investments in some time.”

BAM is already on site: it recently completed work on the adjacent Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre for Sheffield and Manchester Universities and a private sector consortium.

BAM project manager Nick Howdle will move from the Nuclear AMRC project to manage the Rolls-Royce build.

A spokesman for BAM said: “It’s very significant for us because we have not got a pre-existing relationship with Rolls-Royce.

“It gives us an opportunity to impress them.

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“It is not just this job for us – it’s an opportunity to show Rolls-Royce what BAM can do as a contractor.”

It is believed that rival bidders for the tender included York-based Shepherd Group.

BAM is also tendering for the second, larger Rolls-Royce factory planned for the site.

Rolls-Royce has said that the first factory will be one of the most advanced blade-casting facilities in the world and will feature ground-breaking manufacturing techniques.

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The factory is expected to produce its first blades in late 2014 and will be capable of manufacturing 100,000 blades per year when fully operational.

Each blade will be cast to form a single crystal of super alloy, making it extremely strong and able to resist the intense heat inside a jet engine, said the company. Mike Mosley, a vice president at Rolls-Royce, said the factory will use cutting-edge manufacturing techniques to produce single crystal turbine blades, which play a critical role in jet engines and “must withstand incredibly harsh conditions”.

The construction project is in the “very preliminary stages”, said BAM, and will continue into next year, while Rolls-Royce procures equipment for the plant.

The developers are set to begin installation and commissioning next year, before test runs and initial production starts in 2014.

Rolls-Royce expects full rate production in 2015.

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The £11.3bn-turnover group is one of the biggest success stories in British business.

The global power systems group employs more than 40,000 people in more than 50 countries.

Its underlying revenues were £1.3bn last year. Rolls-Royce has an order book worth £62.2bn.

BAM Construction, part of the Dutch-owned Royal BAM Group, has nine, mainly public sector projects on site in the North East and Yorkshire. Mr Wimpenny, who is based in Leeds, said there is “very little activity” in the private sector, apart from specialist engineering projects.

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He confirmed that BAM is looking at the offshore wind turbine factory Siemens is planning for Hull.

“High-end manufacturing is an area that we have been focusing on as a business because we see that potential for the future,” Mr Wimpenny said.

He added that Hitachi has chosen Newton Aycliffe in County Durham for its £77m high speed rail plant.

BAM is also developing Leeds Arena, which is set to open next year.