The Royal Belfast Academical Institution

Commerce Week Day 4

Today we were given the opportunity to visit the Hyster-Yale manufacturing plant in Craigavon. We were given a tour of their expansive production facilities and an insight into the day-to-day business of the plant.
10-June-24
Commerce Week Day 4

Today we were given the opportunity to visit the Hyster-Yale manufacturing plant in Craigavon. We were given a tour of their expansive production facilities and an insight into the day-to-day business of the plant. The facility can produce up to 100 forklifts per day; this is achieved through an innovative modular approach applied to both design and production. All products are designed and produced on an ad hoc basis, bespoke for each customer in every aspect from features to body paint. Also of particular interest was their approach to the future applications of AI in the industry. A massive debt of gratitude is owed to Esther, Rachel, and Johnathon for such an insightful tour and for their warm hospitality.

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Next on the agenda was Creative Composites, based in Lisburn, where we were treated to a facilities tour that was endlessly fascinating, taking us through what gives them the edge over their competitors to make them the most advanced composite manufacturing plant in the UK. One key take away was the increasing use of automation and what job opportunities were being created for operators. They work in a whole range of industries, from missile cases to MRI components. However, their most lucrative business comes in the form of the automotive industry, manufacturing parts for the Aston Martin DB12, Vantage, and Valour models; the London Electric Vehicle Company TX5 models (London black cabs); and McLaren where they manufacture parts for the 750s and the Artura models. They also manufacture for Hyster-Yale, JCB, and Wrightbus. It was remarkable to see such world-renowned brands being manufactured so close to home, and really drove home the plethora of opportunities available in NI. Our thanks go to Colin, Richard, and Simon for their time and energy this morning.

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Our penultimate stop was McDonald’s Sprucefield to meet with their Operations Manager and get a tour of facilities. The intricacies of day-to-day production and just how much thought goes into each and every process left us with plenty to marvel at. Their business model was clearly a success, with McDonald’s having a total revenue of £175 million in NI alone last year, across 34 locations. What really stood out to me was the philosophy of making minor efficiency savings over such a vast empire to improve productivity on a massive scale. We are very grateful for the hospitality of our host Gareth.

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Our final stop of the week was at the Porsche Centre Belfast. Here we were given some very valuable lessons on success, with a pen to symbolise the work we have to put in in the here and the now, and a key chain to serve as a reminder to be aspirational and ambitious. We were then given a presentation on several aspects of the business, including their social media strategy, marketing, and an overview of upcoming electrical motors. We then had a wonderful tour of the workshop and associated facilities; we are very grateful to the many members of staff that presented to us and gave us such valuable insight.

Oliver Mercer

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