The first phase of Sunderland and South Tyneside's massive £40million International Advanced Manufacturing Park (IAMP) has taken a step forward.
A giant metal stamping press, which will power the first firm to move into the site, has been shipped into the region through the Port of Sunderland.
French car parts business SNOP will take delivery of the 3,000 tonne Transfer Press and the £12million investment will be a key part of its equipment when SNOP begins a phased move to its new site in just a few months’ time.
The press, capable of stamping new generation ultra-high strength steels to support vehicle lightweighting, has been delivered at Port of Sunderland’s Greenwell’s Quay river berth onboard the vessel MARIA in 115 packages with a total weight of 708 tonnes.
The vessel loaded in Kobe, Japan in mid-March, and the press parts will be transported to SNOP’s 235,000 sq ft facility at the southernmost edge of the 150 hectare IAMP site. It will take around three months to assemble and commission the press, which stands in a 9metre deep pit, that has been engineered by the factory’s construction company Howard Russell.
SNOP was the first business to confirm its intention to move to IAMP, in 2018, and expects to have completed a staged move to the new base by August 2020.
SNOP UK plant director, David Brander, said the arrival of the press would mark a significant moment in the development of the facility, with the final fit out due to happen following the handover of keys in June.
He said: "The move to IAMP is strategically important for SNOP UK. For some time, our current facility has limited our capacity, and in moving to a new base, we can maximise our potential with space for expansion.
"The press is a key component of the facility, so today’s delivery of it really does represent the ‘start of the end’ of work on our new factory and we look forward to putting it to use over the coming months and years as we settle into our fantastic new space."
The company, which designs and manufacturers a range of automotive parts, supplying the likes of Peugeot, Audi, Renault, Mercedes, Volkswagen and Seat, as well as Nissan, will take more than 17 acres of the first phase of IAMP. It has invested around £15million into the new building and a further 15million EUROS into the equipment needed to power it.
It is expected the move will increase the firm’s capacity, taking turnover from 54million Euros to 90million, with further space to expand, and creating an additional 100-150 jobs, on top of the firm’s existing 250-strong team.
IAMP One covers 150 acres and will deliver 1.6million sq ft of advanced manufacturing and industrial space. The second phase will provide an additional 2.6million sq ft, creating a scheme of significant size and scale.
The UK Government has pledged £42million from the Local Growth Deal through the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) towards infrastructure including new roads, bridges and environmental enhancements to support the development.
The press, which was manufactured in Japan, was transported to SNOP’s IAMP base from Port of Sunderland by road, crossing Northern Spire bridge, which city leaders have described as a key part of the city’s strategic transport corridor, connecting the port to major arterial roads such as the A19 and A1.
Sunderland City Council chief executive Patrick Melia said: "SNOP is a fantastic business and it’s excellent news for the region that it is affirming its commitment to the area by investing so heavily in new machinery to be housed in its new facility.
"What is even more encouraging for us as a city is the fact that – even before the first factory opens its doors at IAMP - Port of Sunderland is reaping the benefits as the gateway to the area for this giant press.
"And the power of Northern Spire to transform the connectivity between the port and IAMP and make it physically possible for parts of this size and scale to come in through Sunderland, is
IAMP is a partnership between Sunderland City Council, South Tyneside Council and Henry Boot Developments, and is expected to create more than 7,000 jobs.
South Tyneside Council chief executive Martin Swales said: "IAMP will create many thousands of jobs over the coming years, and a great deal more in the associated supply chain.
"Completion of SNOP’s factory really will be a significant event for South Tyneside, Sunderland and the North East. It’s the first of many businesses that will be located on the IAMP, a site that will help power the economy of the region for generations to come.