Projects and Features
Jamestown – building for future strength
The steel industry is becoming more and more competitive and Jamestown says that in order to thrive now and in the future, it needs to constantly improve.
Jamestown, at its production facility in Portarlington, is adopting a structured approach to increasing productivity, increasing output and reducing costs. Since moving to their 17-acre Portarlington site in 2015, the company has grown significantly and throughout this period has worked tirelessly to lay strong foundations for future success.
According to General Manager Niall Fortune, the issues with operating a steel fabrication facility of this size are sometimes hard to identify, but gradually they have come to learn that too much space can be as big a problem as too little space.
“Having recognised that like any other resource, space needs to be controlled and utilised to its best effect, we have begun a Lean Manufacturing drive which is helping to transform key areas of our business,” says Mr Fortune.
Since moving to their current site, Jamestown has added further beam manufacturing equipment, beam profiling capability, high speed – high accuracy milling/drilling, and have improved their method of transforming steel plate into bespoke plate girders.
Enhanced Business Development Activity
Director Fiacre Creegan says: “It has always been our belief that without sales a business has nothing, and to this end Jamestown is boosting its business development team. Jamestown is delighted that Tim Outteridge has agreed to join its business development team and, coupled with the existing UK and ROI based business development expertise, is seeking to ensure a steady stream of profitable work to fill capacity in all sectors of the business.”
Jamestown’s UK Business Development Manager Mark Stewart adds: “The fantastic factory resource in Portarlington can offer the steel industry many different types of product from straightforward plate girder carcasses, to fully fabricated plate and box girders, to complete fully finished rail bridges and totally bespoke complex welded structures.
“We’ve made some superb fabricated steel products and I’m really looking forward to working closely with Tim to ensure Jamestown’s continued success.”
Broadening the Management Team
To meet the ever-increasing demands of compliance, quality, scheduling, and production forecasting and reporting, all of which are a must in a modern fast-moving steel facility, it is imperative that the overall management function within any company is adequately resourced to meet the demands placed upon it. For this reason, Jamestown has continually kept watch over the management side of the business and is quick to spot gaps as they emerge. ‘The natural tendency can be to keep the overheads low,’ says Jamestown’s compliance manager, Mark Morris, ‘but in truth if a business is to grow its output, turnover and profit, inevitably its management must also grow.
“Finding managers with the right attitude, skills, habits and experience is always a challenge and one in which Jamestown invests plenty of time and energy. We are continuing to grow and develop our team across all areas of the business whether this be accounts, technicians, machine operators or welder/ fabricators. The people are the real key to any business and Jamestown fully recognises this,” says Mr Creegan
Investment in Plant and Facilities
Jamestown’s Heavy Fabrication Manager Aidan Clear says: “We’re always looking to move away from old methods, once we can identify new and better ways of working. We’re currently setting up a beam profiling line which will save us time in activities such as end-prepping webs and flanges, producing web openings, cellular beam manufacture, notching and cutting heavy sections to length. In this way, we aim to increase our throughput and reduce overall cost.”
Jamestown also has equipment which hasn’t been utilised fully since its move to Portarlington. A substantial saw & drill unit is being set-up at present and Jamestown is looking at diverting some existing resources towards offering this service to the wider steel industry in Ireland. Through this, the aim is to complement current services and use this as an opportunity to better serve a wider customer base.
“Change is an ever-present part of the steel industry and the wider business sector. It’s a constant. When we started making plate girder carcasses 15 years ago, the landscape was different. There was nobody talking about CE Marking, nobody knew what an IWE or RWC was, welding and fabrication was left to the fabricators and welders, and engineers kept their distance from the workshop,” says Jamestown Carcass Welding Manager Mick McClean.
“Now the entire language of welding and compliance is much more scientific. It’s a big leap from basic S275JR plate to S460 NL with specific carbon equivalent values and restrictions on origin. The whole industry, particularly at the top end, has moved in a direction of complexity and into a tightly specified, more academic environment. As a big player in the bespoke steelwork game, at Jamestown we’ve embraced this change and tooled up with the in-house and consultant skills and with the management know-how to deal with increasing quality compliance requirements.”
In this way, Jamestown can offer customers complete assurance that its bespoke steelwork has come through a rigorous and robust quality environment, with the best of attention paid to every critical aspect of its manufacture.
“By doing this, and by continually improving our offering to the UK and Republic of Ireland steel market, we are very deliberately building our strength for the future,” says Mr McClean.
Mr Creegan concludes by explaining that Jamestown is a company built on a long history of solid engineering expertise and good business judgement. He emphasises that hard work and focus has been the hallmark of their efforts in the past. Jamestown is building towards the future, and with good decision making now, followed by clear action, and coupled with plenty of effort from a great group of employees, Jamestown is set to continue its success and remain strong into the future.
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Steel for Life