Kawasaki Plymouth factory steps up search for staff as sales hit £70m

The UK’s only Kawasaki factory is the latest manufacturer in town to be hit by an engineering skills shortage, making it difficult to keep up with the explosion in orders

Kawasaki’s Plymouth factory expects sales to reach nearly £70million this year and has given staff a pay rise – but is still struggling to recruit workers. The Kawasaki Precision Machinery factory in Ernesettle has won contracts from rivals and says profits this year are expected to be up to £6million higher than expected by the end of 2021.

But the factory, Kawasaki’s only UK factory, is still plagued by a recruitment problem which is also affecting manufacturers in Plymouth and the South West. IN June 2022, manufacturers’ organization Make UK revealed that factories in Plymouth were experiencing a boom in orders for their products but were struggling to find enough workers to satisfy them, with some companies considering giving pay rises three times this year in an effort to retain staff.

KPM UK has already increased its workforce from 268 to 292 employees and is now looking for another 17 employees to join the team immediately. It is looking for production supervisors, logisticians/handlers, CNC machine setters-operators, a maintenance manager and a quality manager.

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The company said recruitment for manufacturing companies can be frustrating as the entire manufacturing sector in the Plymouth area is recruiting at the same time. KPM UK recently introduced a “welcome” pay rise for all employees and will soon introduce new benefits, which it hopes will help speed up recruitment.

Lee Crocker, Managing Director of KPM UK, said: “While there are business challenges due to high inflation and disruptions to the European supply chain due to the conflict in Ukraine, we continue to grow in the market. construction machinery through our improved customer service and excellent products. . In recent weeks, we have won several contracts with our main European competitors. The challenge is the same as at the end of 2021, we just can’t recruit fast enough and this is now our biggest challenge again.”

Mr Crocker stressed that anyone wishing to find out more about the jobs on offer at KPM UK should contact the human resources team at [email protected] or by calling 01752 322 363.

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KPM UK was established in 1994 as a stand-alone subsidiary of the Kawasaki Precision Machinery group, which accounts for 14% of the whole of Japan’s Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd (KHI). This company has sites in Japan, the United States, India, Korea and China, in addition to Plymouth, where the factory manufactures Staffa engines, axial piston pumps and other hydraulic components, the majority of them being exported all over the world.

Products manufactured by KPM UK in Plymouth are used by global brands such as JCB, Caterpillar, John Deere, Terex and Volvo for machinery used in construction and industrial applications, with many pumps and motors exported worldwide. The Plymouth plant, on the banks of the River Tamar, also serves the maritime sector and offshore industries.

Mr. Crocker added, “On behalf of our leadership team, I would like to personally commend the hard work and commitment of our employees for their continued support and flexibility during these exciting but difficult times. Rapid growth is great, but difficult. Our business has grown from £40.7m in 2020 to £69m in 2022 (68% in two years) and we expect further growth in 2023 to reach £72m. We can’t do it without our amazing employees.”

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