Fifteen members of the NAMTEC Manufacturing Forum were invited to visit the Wilton Engineering operations at Port Clarence, Middlesbrough in the middle of May this year. This was an excellent opportunity for members to see first-hand the operations of a highly successful fabrication facility supplying predominantly the oil & gas sector.
Bill Scott, Wilton Group CEO, presented an insight into the Group and its operations. Bill founded the company in 1994, and by 2011 The Wilton Group achieved a turnover of £85 million with 800 employees, and are on target to achieve £100m turnover with 1000 employees by 2015. The Group started on a small site in Middlesbrough which they soon outgrew and were workingfrom several sites before the current location at Port Clarence, then owned by Kvaerner Oil & Gas, was acquired to form a central hub of operations. This proved to be a major step forward for the group providing a water front location capable of fabrication and loading out structures weighing thousands of tonnes.
The Group now has developed with 250 design engineers at PD&MS Energy in Aberdeen and a further 30 design engineers on Teesside as well as the Universal Coatings operation providing painting and coating facilities for Wilton Engineering and outside customers. The Group also has bases in Dundee, Great Yarmouth and Brazil and is now looking to move into the different sectors such as the renewable power sector.
The NAMTEC site visit, which included a tour of the workshops, started with a look at the Universal Coatings operations, where they are capable of painting even the largest structures. In the next workshop, the clamps for the caissons on the Siri field were being fabricated for Technip to act as a permanent reinforcement solution for the decaying structure. These are 3 metres in diameter and 6 metres high with a sophisticated clamping system.
Against stiff competition, Wilton won the multi-million pound contract from Conoco for the Long Term Compression (LTC) Module for the Britannia field weighing a massive 2200 tonnes. This is being fabricated as individual decks and these are currently being fabricated. It was inspiring to see the precision and quality of the workmanship on such a large fabricated structure – 30 metres long, 29 meters high and 18 metres wide.
The next project viewed was a J-Lay tower for IHC which is to be used for the installation of subsea steel pipelines, sections of which are up-ended from the vessel and held in position whilst being welded to the pipe being installed. The tower is an extremely large and complex structure and was nearing the final stages of completion. Alongside the J-lay, Stinger units are being constructed, which assists with installation of the welded pipeline.
After the tour, members were given the opportunity to ask questions of Bill and senior management from Procurement, Engineering, Proposals and Business Development functions to gain further insights into the Group and to have network opportunities with the team over an excellent lunch.
The visit gave members an opportunity to hear about and see firsthand the operations of a specialist fabricator within the oil and gas sector and enable valuable contacts to be made. Wilton have no machining facilities and use external sources for offsite and onsite machining. They also buy in other subcontract services and for the Conoco project will require around £10million of sub-contract services.
Our thanks go to Bill and his team for such an informative and worthwhile visit. It is an object lesson for UK manufacturing of what can be achieved with the right vision and persistence.