Optare’s investment continues with a £0.5m pounds recently dedicated to expand paint facilities and upgrade CAD equipment at its Sherburn bus plant to meet projected demand for its products.
Painting capacity has been increased by around 35 per cent through the installation of a third paint booth. Like the two installed when the plant was opened in 2011, it has a ‘bake’ drying cycle of under 40 minutes. The existing booths are already being operated on a continuous three shift system but further capacity was needed to meet planned growth from 2013.
Other recent changes to the plant layout include the setting-up of a dedicated build area for electric vehicles, in which Optare see significant growth potential. And improvements have been made to a number of production processes, including increased use of off-line sub-assembly areas to support faster line speeds.
A significant part of the investment has also been used to replace Optare’s existing mix of CAD design systems with a single system. Following an extensive review the company has chosen the SolidWorks 3D package from Dassault Systèmes SolidWorks Corp., a world leader in CAD technology.
Optare Chief Technical Officer Glenn Saint says: “Following the consolidation of our design team from three sites down to a single site at Sherburn we had a mix of CAD systems. The decision to invest heavily in the SolidWorks system means that in the future we can control our design processes much more efficiently and enables us to link with design teams in Chennai, India, to benefit from their specialisms and also to bring new products to market faster.”
Speaking of the new investment, Chief Executive Officer Jim Sumner described it as “a mark of confidence in the future of Optare”. He added that the strategic alliance forged with Ashok Leyland had also been a significant factor in the continuing development and growth of the business.
“Ashok Leyland is helping to open up new markets and we are already seeing the benefit of our relationship with some exciting prospects in the Middle East. Here in the UK the large fleet operators now know that we have the capacity to meet their volume requirements and we continue to establish ourselves as the clear leader in the market for electric buses.”