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Gloucestershire Business News

VIDEO: Car parts maker could invest £3m and create 40 jobs

An industry-leading multi-national is poised to make a multi-million pound investment in Gloucester and create 40 new jobs in the motor industry.

Just off Spinnaker Road, the Nordic giant Hydro is ready to plug into the expected new wave of electric car manufacturing gearing up to begin in the UK.

As the drive towards the new generation of vehicles accelerates, the move away from fossil fuels has already seen Honda call time on Swindon and engine maker Ford pack its bags in Bridgend, both costing thousands of jobs.

As Martijn Vos, managing director of Hydro Components UK, will tell you, it is far from the end of the motor car industry in the UK, but as a supplier 'we must adjust to the changes in the market place'.

Mr Vos is already hard at work on that here in Gloucester. Plans have been filed to expand Hydro's existing car parts manufacturing plant, so it is capable of housing all the manufacturing processes under one roof for aluminium roof rail and trim components.

Investment will be heavyweight - £3 million, with 40 jobs expected to be created.

"We are currently putting two factories into one. We are closing the Rotherham site and relocating the fabrication and assembly to Gloucester.

"Rotherham is a powder painting facility and we will relocate that line and those skills to Gloucester, which means we will need to employ people with painting experience.

"The Gloucester site is currently not big enough to accommodate all the new equipment and processes. That is why we brought the land adjacent to this plant," said Mr Vos, trying his best to stop thinking about the planning detail he is not yet 100 per cent sure will not scupper the scheme.

Plans are due to go before Gloucester City Council planners on Tuesday, March 3.

"First we will create a proper logistics centre for our raw materials and finished goods storage. It will also improve the truck handling and we will have better parking conditions for our employees.

"Then, we will expand the factory to give room to the paint shop and to new product launches.

"One of them uses a new joining technology called Refill Friction Stir Spot Welding (RFSSW).

"We are the first plant within Hydro to utilise this technology in mass production," said Mr Vos.

Completion of the works will make the site a tier-one automotive supplier to UK car manufacturers.

"After the expansion, we will get raw extrusions from colleagues in Cheltenham, where Hydro has another plant. And we will use our new skills to turn that product into a finished component ready to be fitted onto a vehicle.

"Anyone who joins us will be part of those plans and can learn the whole process.

"I am a big fan of job rotation", said Mr Vos. "We spend a great deal of time training our employees. We also drive continuous improvement. Doing things one per cent better every day."

"Diversity is also important. We have 25 per cent women already and I would like to grow it to 30 per cent and there are some corporate requirements from Hydro in that direction too, for a diverse workforce.

"Anyone who starts working for us will be part of the Hydro family and be building parts for British cars.

"Hydro as an employer is about taking care of its people. The company values of care, collaboration and courage are embedded in what we do.

"Worker safety is priority number one. Everything we do is targeted at that and management spends a significant amount of time improving the safety of the workplace.

"We are awaiting approval to start breaking ground. Assuming it will go through it will be an exciting year for Hydro in the UK and those looking to forge careers in the automotive components sector.

"In the August - September timeframe, the building should be in place and we can start moving new equipment in and creating jobs in fourth quarter of this year."

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