How Airbus remains a jewel in Wales's manufacturing crown
Wales’s Airbus facility in Broughton has firmly established itself as a beacon of success for the company in the aerospace manufacturing sector.
Well known for being the Welsh home of the De Havilland Comet and the Mosquito, the facility creates at least 1,000 wings per year, thanks to 6,000 staff on-site. £2 billion has been poured into the business over the past 15 years, cementing its role as a powerhouse of Welsh manufacturing.
The Government Affairs Executive for Airbus UK, Steve Thomas, offered the following statement to Trade & Invest Wales:
“Airbus has had a presence at Broughton since 1939, when we were created as a shadow war factory. We’re primarily involved in manufacturing and engineering, but we’ve invested significantly in the wider supply chain, which employs around 2,000 people. This is a fantastic modern setting. Adjacent to the west factory we’ve got a business park with three suppliers. And we’re very proud of our skilled workforce, which extends to over 6,500 people. Today, Wales offers exactly what Airbus requires in terms of the infrastructure, surrounding locality, skilled workforce and the facilities across the site and its 750 acres. More than 100,000 people are dependent on the work we generate, and it contributes more than £2 billion to the UK economy each year, so we’re riding on a high.
“We’ve got future bookings extending over ten years. There’s a great level of optimism associated with that order book and the future prospects we have. When we look up in the sky, it’s a great feeling to know that we’ve contributed in some shape and fashion to that success story.
“My advice to other companies looking at operating in Wales is, ‘come and join us’. We are the envy of our European partners in terms of what we’ve got here in Wales and the relationship we’ve got with Welsh Government and how supportive they have been. It’s a great, mature relationship that’s developed over a number of years.
“A close relationship with Welsh Government gives us access to decision makers at ministerial level quickly. And if we want advice and support we can just pick up the phone.”
Trade & Invest Wales - Airbus case study:
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Ultium Cells LLC/Li-Cycle: Sustainable Battery Manufacturing
Ultium Cells LLC - a joint venture between General Motors and LG Energy Solutions - has announced its latest collaboration with Li-Cycle. Joining forces the two have set ambitions to expand recycling in North America, recycling up to 100% of the scrap materials in battery cell manufacturing
What is Ultium Cells LLC?
Announcing their partnership in December 2019, General Motors (GM) and LG Energy Solutions established Ultium Cells LLC with a mission to “ensure excellence of Battery Cell Manufacturing through implementation of best practices from each company to contribute [to the] expansion of a Zero Emission propulsion on a global scale.”
Who is Li-Cycle?
Founded in 2016, Li-Cycle leverages innovative solutions to address emerging and urgent challenges around the world.
As the use of Lithium-ion rechargeable batteries in automotive, industrial energy storage, and consumer electronic applications rises, Li-Cycle believes that “the world needs improved technology and supply chain innovations to better recycle these batteries, while also meeting the rapidly growing demand for critical and scarce battery-grade materials.”
Why are Ultium Cells LLC and Li-Cycle join forces?
By joining forces to expand the recycling of scrap materials in battery cell manufacturing in North America, the new recycling process will allow Ultium Cells LLC to recycle cobalt, nickel, lithium, graphite, copper, manganese and aluminum.
“95% of these materials can be used in the production of new batteries or for adjacent industries,” says GM, who explains that the new hydrometallurgical process emits 30% less greenhouse gases (GHGs) than traditional processes, minimising the environmental impact. Use of this process will begin later in the year (2021).
"Our combined efforts with Ultium Cells will be instrumental in redirecting battery manufacturing scrap from landfills and returning a substantial amount of valuable battery-grade materials back into the battery supply chain. This partnership is a critical step forward in advancing our proven lithium-ion resource recovery technology as a more sustainable alternative to mining, " said Ajay Kochhar, President, CEO and co-founder of Li-Cycle.
"GM's zero-waste initiative aims to divert more than 90% of its manufacturing waste from landfills and incineration globally by 2025. Now, we're going to work closely with Ultium Cells and Li-Cycle to help the industry get even better use out of the materials,” added Ken Morris, Vice President of Electric and Autonomous Vehicles, GM.
Since 2013, GM has recycled or reused 100% of the battery packs it has received from customers, with most current GM EVs repaired with refurbished packs.
"We strive to make more with less waste and energy expended. This is a crucial step in improving the sustainability of our components and manufacturing processes,” concluded Thomas Gallagher, Chief Operating Officer, Ultium Cells LLC.