The City of Coventry may not be quite the vast industrial manufacturing centre that it once was but its importance as a centre of engineering excellence continues to stand out. Yesterday, Meggitt plc, a global engineering group that specialises in extreme environmental components and sub-systems for the aerospace, defence and energy industries and a company that I wrote on reasonably recently following a visit I had made to its Holbrook Lane facilities, announced a £130 million investment what can best be described as a ‘super site’ facility to be based at Ansty Park, Coventry and that is planned for completion by the end of 2019.
To be located adjacent to the Manufacturing Technology Centre and Advanced Manufacturing Training Centre and based on a strategy of bringing world class innovation and operational delivery onto a single site, Meggitt’s new facilities will be developed in conjunction with partners. The plan is based on bringing together a number of existing operations in order to create not only efficiency of operation and meet current and future customer requirements but also to allow for expansion. Importantly, I see this as an investment that represents a significant long term commitment to UK manufacturing capability sustainment just as I also do in regard that it demonstrates confidence by the company in its existing markets and in its long term future.
No company can stand still and however successful it might be today unless it plans and invests for the future history can show lists of companies that died because they failed to invest and think hard enough about the future. Thankfully, Meggitt Chief Operating Officer, Tony Wood who will take over as CEO in January knows all too well that investment is key to the sustainment of growth.
The planned investment by Meggitt not only represents confidence in its own future and in the markets that it serves but also in availability of regional skills. The West Midland’s status as an internationally recognised aerospace and auto cluster ensures that the region will remain important in the eyes of Government and with an abundance of specialist technical and engineering skills it is pleasing that the region continues to invest heavily to enhance those skills.
Coventry itself falls within the West Midland Combined Authority, an area that is all but specifically driven by policy to increase skills and invest for future success. Meggitt and its forebear subsidiary companies have been in this particular region for many decades and the company is naturally proud of its long heritage. Suffice to say that unlike others that are gone because they failed to think forward and invest, Meggitt is an excellent example of a company that has survived and prospered because it has a long history of investing for tomorrow.
The planned new 440,000 sq. ft Meggitt facility aims to combine a range of operations including Aircraft Braking Systems, Control Systems, Customer Services & Support and Corporate Shared Services. Meggitt business activities that will move to the new site will be centred within a world-class centre of excellence designed for aerospace engineering and technology environments and my understanding is that the plan envisages that the location will act as a base for up to 1,000 employees. Plans for the new site include an engineering and manufacturing Centre of Excellence to develop a new, purpose-built capability for future aerospace thermal management technology and the company is already well supported by the UK Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI). It has also re with a research and development award from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy of £3.7m.
I was disturbed this morning when I read a ‘Sky News’ report informing that the country’s most senior military officers were recently summoned to the Ministry of Defence (MOD) for what it describes as a “non-negotiable meeting” and a “dressing down” after a recent stream of leaks to the media giving details about planned defence cuts.
The article goes on to suggest that it was understood that there was even a plan to suspend the high-level Armed Forces Committee, a group meeting attended by top military personnel and MoD officials, as a desperate attempt to plug the hole and it quoted a defence insider source saying that “there was too much stuff going around that could only have come from this small group of people” and that the leaks included “levels of detail and private conversations that shouldn’t have been made public”. While the same source suggests that “no one is accusing the chiefs themselves of leaking but there are suggestions that some of the detail has found its way to the media via proxies.”
I do not know where the various leaks that we have seen in relation to proposed defence capability cuts have come from but neither, in the case of those that we have seen, am I that sure these emanated from within the MOD and/or the military themselves. It is of course the job of others to report on whatever they find. My work, if and when appropriate in this context, is to respond, defend, support or to simply provide a view on what has emerged.
What we are talking about here appears to be yet another of those similarly leaked reports and it leads me to make the suggestion to the Permanent Under-Secretary, Stephen Lovegrove that in respect of who might be to blame for leaks he would do as well to take account of those working in the Cabinet Office and Treasury rather than blaming those working within the MOD.
CHW (London 28th November 2017)
Howard Wheeldon FRAeS
Wheeldon Strategic Advisory Ltd,
M: +44 7710 779785