Here, in a piece associated with Just Ask: Wales, we take a look at how being situated in Wales contributed to the success of subsidiaries of Toyota, British Airways and Monitise
British Airways Maintenance Cardiff (BAMC) is based at Rhoose in the Vale of Glamorgan at Cardiff International Airport. With safety as its first priority, BAMC provides engineering facilities to overhaul, repair, modify, test and inspect BA’s long haul fleet of Boeing 747, 767 and 777 aircraft, some 120 airframes.
This means that BAMC is responsible for major maintenance and cabin interior conversions on BA’s entire long haul fleet and is one of the largest facilities of its kind in the UK. The company was created in South East Wales in 1992 to reduce the real estate and labour costs which its parent company experienced near London and to gain space for maintenance growth.
The move was intended to provide maintenance capacity for the anticipated long haul fleet growth of 100+ widebodied aircraft. Cardiff was selected for a new £75 million greenfield purpose-built facility because it offered attractive, affordable building space, a good local infrastructure, a pool of training and available workforce with solid engineering skills along with regional assistance from the Welsh government.
Tim Wood, manager for safety and business improvement, BAMC, says, ‘We are great advocates of South Wales. Cardiff really offered the best all-round combination of features, which is why we chose to locate here in preference to other locations we examined.
Wood adds that the Welsh government and the local councils offered tremendous collective assistance.
BAMC’s purpose-built facility comprises a 250 metre, three-bay hangar, with support workshops, non destructive testing facilities, composite repair workshop and a paint shop.
It employs 700 people who are supported by three companies which handle all the catering, security and plant maintenance requirements for BAMC – Restaurant Associates, Delta and Interserve respectively.
Wood says the most important factors behind the decision to come to Wales were lower operating costs, good logistics, the quality of training available and the highly-skilled workforce right on the doorstep.
The Welsh presence of Monitise
Monitise Welsh Software Solutions is a prominent player in mobile money services. Software, platform and cloud-based solutions created in Wales are leading the way in the development of mobile money services for some of the world’s top financial institutions. These include leading names such as Visa Europe, Visa Inc, RBS, NatWest HSBC, FIS, US Bank, Fifth Third Bank, PNC and Lloyds Banking Group.
Cutting-edge applications developed by Monitise at Nantgarw near Cardiff are revolutionising how customers move money around using mobile phones, tablets and other smart devices.
Monitise, which employs 700 people across offices in Wales, London, USA and Asia, relies upon the skills of its 80-strong Nantgarw team to research and develop technology that enables more than 20 million users to complete more than 2 billion financial transactions via their mobiles each year.
This covers all aspects of mobile payment systems and works with financial institutions, payment providers, mobile network operators, retailers, media owners and loyalty and coupon providers to facilitate the entire transaction process for both the customer and company concerned.
The skills available at its Welsh base focus on software development, including the customisation of the company’s standard mobile applications to meet specific customer needs.
The Nantgarw centre has been responsible for various groundbreaking products, among them a service called Movida, that enables consumers in India to pay bills, top up prepaid airtime and buy tickets from their mobile phones.
This Welsh base was created in 2011, after early expansion into overseas markets in partnership with Visa Europe and Visa Inc. led to rapid growth in demand for Monitise services. The firm has worked closely with the Welsh government to reach its current position; receiving advice, funding, practical support and contacts involved in developing the ICT skills regionally that Monitise required.
Managing director for professional services, Graham Johnson says that the Welsh government was able to provide the company with the technical and practical support it needed to set up a base in Nantgarw.
‘That ranged from advising us on suitable office space to supporting us financially with the installation of the ICT and other equipment,’ Johnson adds.
‘We received a technical assistance grant to enable us make the move, and have also made links with top class universities nearby. These institutions were part of the attraction in opening an office here in the first place.’
Monitise is now working with the Welsh government and the universities to ensure a healthy pipeline of skills required to sustain a growing Welsh regional ICT industry.
This partnership also helps retain talent within Wales by matching suitably-qualified candidates with appropriate job opportunities. The company has accepted invitations to work with Software Alliance Wales and to become a member of Education Minister’s ICT Steering Group in order to help improve these skills in schools and higher education institutions.
Johnson says, ‘By developing these relationships we want to make sure Monitise continues to benefit, that young people in Wales are given opportunities they want closer to home, and that the Welsh economy continues to thrive.’
The company has begun recruiting new IT graduates through the Welsh government’s Graduate Opportunities (GO) Wales scheme. It continues to grow internationally, as cash becomes increasingly digitised and people want to be able to pay securely via their mobile phone as they move from country to country.
Johnson concludes, ‘We’re committed to creating long-term, sustainable jobs in Wales and, with this in mind, we’re totally focused on developing ICT skills locally. Assistance from the Welsh government will continue to help us achieve this.’
Toyota UK has been an important part of the British car manufacturing industry since its formation in 1989. The company has two plants in the UK – the vehicle plant in Burnaston, Derbyshire and the Engine Plant in Deeside, North Wales.
Both plants have been in full operation since 1991. In the ever-evolving world of automotive technology, exciting times lie ahead for the Deeside plant, as it has just started production of Toyota’s new hybrid engine – the first plant outside of Japan to do so.
The Deeside plant’s production capabilities embrace the whole range of engine manufacturing, from raw aluminium smelting and casting through to machining, assembly and testing of the finished unit. The engines are then shipped to Toyota vehicle plants in Turkey and South Africa as well as the Burnaston plant for installation. With the addition of the new hybrid engine – which forms the heart of Toyota’s ‘Hybrid Synergy Drive’ system – the Deeside plant is now well positioned to demonstrate its competitiveness across Toyota’s global framework.
Graham Hillier, General Affairs Manager Toyota UK, says, ‘The hybrid engine represents the forefront of automotive technology and for our plant to be chosen as the manufacturer of this engine is extremely exciting. It is a clear vote of confidence and belief in our capabilities at Deeside, especially as we are the only plant to be building it outside of Japan – definitely a feather in Wales’ cap.’
The economic downturn in 2008 had a significant impact on all car manufacturers and, despite winning new business, the Deeside plant has been no exception. Its production levels, output rates and staff have all been reduced to reflect the market conditions. However, Welsh government, as part of its continued support has helped Toyota develop its workforce, through its ProAct programme. This was designed to assist strong businesses in addressing the challenges of recession by helping them take advantage of a quieter period to focus on training and so increase skills in readiness for the upturn.
Hillier says, ‘Welsh government plays a key role in effecting introductions to the right people in the business community and provides a valuable link to government.’