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New facility keeps Helical in the driving seat

22nd May 2013

A Lancashire business that makes sophisticated engine and exhaust components for some of the world’s most famous vehicle brands has opened a new multi-million pound technical centre in Warton, with support from Yorkshire Bank.

Helical Technology’s purpose-built Warton Technical Centre comprises a 1,700 sq m test area, a 3500 sq m prototype and manufacturing workshop, a drive-by noise test track and two-storey office facility.

The company, which also has operations in Lytham, will use the technical centre to develop new products, open up new markets and boost exports.

Helical’s growth has been backed by significant long term investment by Yorkshire Bank, including £2m of working capital funding to support the latest expansion.

Andy Nurse, relationship manager at Yorkshire Bank in Preston, said: “It is fulfilling to have played a key role in Helical’s impressive expansion and we will continue to support this well-managed company to ensure it remains at the forefront of high
value-added automotive manufacturing.”

Tobias Morris, CEO at Helical Warton Technical Centre, said: “Yorkshire Bank has been highly influential over the years by providing funding that has enabled us to continue investing in manufacturing technology. This has enabled us to increase our production of actuators and valve rotators in a competitive global market.

“The various funding arrangements with Yorkshire Bank have also supported further investment in the research and development of new precision engineering products such as exhaust valves. Innovation-led developments are forging new business opportunities, particularly in the field of electronic actuation in noise and turbocharger control.”

Helical, which employs 175 staff, has seen UK and global turnovers grow to £24m in £40m respectively – increases of 30 per cent on pre-recession figures. The business expects revenue to rise by a further five per cent in 2013.

The business designs and manufactures actuators for turbochargers, and valve rotators for large diesel and gas engines, as well as actuated valves for automotive exhaust systems.

With established operations in China and India, the company is planning to enter the North American market and boasts a client list that includes Cummins, Caterpillar, JLR and Aston Martin.

The Warton facility features highly-sophisticated test facilities, including a vehicle semi-anechoic chamber – a facility capable of housing a full vehicle to allow sound measurements to be made by replicating real-life driving conditions.

The centre also boasts new gas analysis equipment that processes all gases including methane. There is also a calibrated noise strip for testing the systems on new vehicles before they are certified for use on European roads.

The test track is the only one in the north west of England and is used by vehicle refiners and automotive equipment manufacturers.

Helical Technology was founded in 1962 by chairman and Tobias’ grandfather, James Mills Morris. The family can trace its engineering roots back even further, as James is a descendent of Mathew William Mills, founding director of Ames Crosta Mills & Co,at Moss Iron Works, in Heywood, Lancashire, which dates back to 1825.

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