Award-winning Sunderland firm wins Alfa Romeo order

Expert Tooling's new Rainton Bridge plant.
Expert Tooling's new Rainton Bridge plant.
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Award-winning business Expert Tooling is gearing up for its biggest ever order as it opens its new multi-million pound plant at Rainton Bridge today.

The industrial automation supplier – which was named our Business of the Year at October’s Portfolio awards – has won a major order from a tier-one supplier to Alfa Romeo to design and manufacture a production assembly facility to produce parts for the Italian car company.

It will be produced in the new 30,000 sq ft building which has tripled Expert’s assembly space and will house the project management, process engineering, design, manufacture and development staff.

The company supplies specialist tooling and robotic automation systems to customers worldwide.

The new building will be officially opened at a ceremony attended by group managing director Angelo Luciano, who is travelling from the company’s headquarters in Coventry, and Sunderland City Council leader Coun Paul Watson.

Operations director Dave Bartell said: “The new building gives us the opportunity to build larger equipment efficiently.

“It’s a purpose-built factory where we can carry out all the testing and commissioning in one place.

“We couldn’t do the complete assembly line before, but the new assembly line is 40 metres long, where we can carry out multiple manual operations and automatic mastic application.

“The company has invested £2.5million in the facility. The group sees a long-term future in Sunderland, because the North East cluster of automotive industries is so strong.”

The new building will lead to 25 new jobs, half of which have already been created, with the remaining posts expected to be filled in the next 12 months.

Expert now employs 56 people in Sunderland, and its in-house training programme helped it to win the best training provider title at the 2015 Sunderland Echo Portfolio Business Awards, as well as business of the year.

“Apprentices and graduate trainees make up about 30 per cent of our workforce. We currently have nine apprentices and seven graduate placement students,” said Dave

“We identified quite early there was a huge skills shortage in our industry, and we needed to embark on new development plans.”

Expert Tooling has worked with global automotive giants including Jaguar Landrover, Nissan, Mini, and McLaren.