NAA Event review: Members Networking Meeting, Leyland Trucks
NAA members, along with some prospective member companies, enjoyed a tour of Leyland Trucks on 19 June 2013, with visitors being highly impressed by the size and quality of the facility.
Leyland Trucks Ltd is one of Britain’s leading manufacturing companies and is a wholly-owned subsidiary of PACCAR Inc. PACCAR is a global technology leader in the design, manufacture and customer support of high quality light, medium and heavy duty trucks under the Kenworth, Peterbilt and DAF nameplates.
Since Leyland was acquired by PACCAR in 1998, it has become the group’s established centre for light and medium truck design, development and manufacture.
Leyland operates from one of Europe’s most advanced truck assembly facilities, the Leyland Assembly Plant. The company, employing 1,000 people, manufactures 20,000 trucks per year of which approximately 35% are exported to all European Union markets and the wider world. The company’s future development is focused on the use of leading-edge applications of information technology in all aspects of truck design, manufacture, procurement and logistics.
The presentation started with the headline that lower emissions were a priority for the company, due to the impending arrival of Euro 6 legislation. The company’s forthcoming new small truck that complies with the new emissions standard comes with a price premium due to the extra technology required, resulting in the lower-cost current generation vehicle being sold out.
There is a long history of vehicle production at the site, starting in 1896. The 1990’s were described as ‘bad times’, but things started to turn around when PACCAR acquired Leyland in 1998. PACCAR has 74 consecutive years of continuous net profit, with a total revenue of £17bn in 2012.
In the 1960s all elements of the trucks were manufactured at Leyland (apart from the tyres); the plant now focuses on truck assembly, however this is a major undertaking in itself. For instance, the tour showed how the truck chassis is suspended on huge ‘rubber bands’ and turned upside down to fit components such as axles.
The market in Western Europe has been somewhat challenging in recent post-recession years, however sales in the UK are doing well, and non-European global markets are growing at a rapid pace, with 6,600 non-EU registrations last year – a growth of 185%.
The tour of the facility included an impressive virtual reality demonstration in the Product Design Centre, showing how engineers can view any aspect of a truck’s composition on a large screen using 3D glasses.
The visit to Leyland Trucks was an excellent demonstration of the unique opportunities available to NAA members to see ‘behind the scenes’ in the North West’s automotive industry.