Each month, The Engineer picks 10 of the most notable news stories from our Business Briefs archive. In June there was much movement in the transport sector, particularly in the UK, as well as several high-voltage contracts being signed across the various divisions of the energy industry.
One of the biggest stories in the UK, owing to its relevance to the country’s many road users, was that of the Highways Agency (HA) upgrading its traffic information service. To this end, the HA awarded Thales UK and its joint venture partner Mouchel a £57m, seven-year contract to provide traffic information to millions of road users every day. According to Thales, the new National Traffic Information Service (NTIS) will maintain the HA’s capability to: collect data about traffic, planned events and current events, and process this data to give a real-time national view of traffic conditions on the motorway and trunk road network.
Assessing the impact of events and traffic flows, the NTIS will allow staff to decide on the best response and put it into action, all the while publishing traffic information through various sources. The upgrade programme will replace the existing traffic data processing and publication elements of the existing 10-year National Traffic Control Centre contract with a more efficient one, with the aim of providing better value.
The authority for the UK’s rail system, too, was working on upgrading its facilities. Network Rail selected a joint venture between engineering group Costain and German construction company Hochtief as preferred contractor for the rebuild of Reading station.
This contract will see five new platforms constructed at Reading, to relieve congestion on the Great Western Main Line and prevent travellers from having to wait outside the station for a space on the platform. The contract, worth approximately £80m, is one of the biggest to be awarded as part of Network Rail’s £850m project to transform Reading’s railway.
Meanwhile, one of the UK’s most powerful forces, the defence, security and aerospace company BAE Systems, decided to sell its commercial aircraft-lease portfolio and Asset Management business to investment affiliates of Fortress Investment Group.
The sale, which is expected to close in the third quarter of this year, is for a cash consideration of $187m (£113.4m), subject to certain post-completion adjustments.
On the topic of aircraft, power systems provider Rolls-Royce concluded a contract worth up to $2.2bn (£1.4bn) with TAM Airlines of Brazil, to provide Trent XWB engines for 27 Airbus A350-XWB aircraft. The order, which is TAM’s first with Rolls-Royce, includes a 12-year agreement for TotalCare long-term services support.
Specifically designed for the Airbus A350-XWB, the Trent XWB is the fastest-selling Rolls-Royce Trent engine and claimed to offer 28 per cent better fuel efficiency than pre-Trent generation engines. More than 1,100 Trent XWB engines have been sold to 36 customers, with current orders extending beyond 2020.
Touching down in the UK again, the city of Newcastle received some good news of jobs opening up with one of the world’s biggest engineering companies. Germany’s Siemens this month created a newly integrated Energy Service division for the UK, selecting the northern city for its base.
This new division, named Siemens Energy Service UK, brings together the businesses responsible for servicing conventional power plants and wind farms. It is intended to provide for customers’ long-term service and maintenance needs.
Elsewhere in the energy industry, Swiss-Swedish power and automation company ABB won an order from the Hyundai engineering and construction company to supply a turnkey electrical balance of plant solution, including a 132kV substation that will support a 360MW power plant in Bangladesh. This power plant and substation, scheduled for completion in 2013, will be located in Haripur, on the outskirts of Dhaka.
As part of the project, ABB will also design, supply, install and commission the 132kV substation. Key equipment supplies include gas-insulated switchgear (GIS), the generator transformer, auxiliary and distribution transformers, generator circuit breakers and medium-voltage switchgear.
The wind power sector saw further progress as a consortium, including US conglomerate General Electric (GE) and Australian company Leighton Contractors, received a contract, worth $130m (£80.4m), to supply and install 22 GE 2.5-100 wind turbines for the Mumbida Wind Farm, located 40km south east of Geraldton, Western Australia.
The wind farm, which is a 50/50 partnership between Verve Energy and Macquarie Capital, will generate 55MW of renewable electricity for the South West Interconnected System, which is estimated to be enough energy to power 35,000 homes and offset 165,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year.
Designed to yield the highest annual energy production in their class, GE’s 2.5-100 wind turbines have logged more than 2.3 million operating hours in Europe and Asia and have been selected for the world’s largest wind project, Shepherds Flat in Oregon, US.
Over to Japan, now, where Sumitomo Heavy Industries Marine and Engineering (SHI-ME) awarded RWO Marine Water Technology an order for three of its CleanBallast ballast water treatment systems. These ballast water treatment plants will be installed in 2012 in three Aframax tankers to be built for a European ship owner by the Japanese shipyard, which is based in Yokosuka, Japan.
The CleanBallast systems, with a maximum capacity of 3,000m³/hr, will be equipped with several of RWO’s disinfection systems operating in parallel, allowing the systems to cater for differing rates of ballasting and de-ballasting. The shipyard has already signed a letter of intent for two further RWO ballast water treatment systems, with discussions for additional ships in the series at an advanced stage.
And, going even further afield, we turn our sights to space with a contract concerning the Hubble Space Telescope. This month, NASA awarded Lockheed Martin Space Systems Corporation (LMSSC) a follow-on contract for the Mission Operations, Systems Engineering and Software (MOSES-II) for the Hubble.
Under this five-year contract, which is valued at $133m (£83m), LMSSC will continue to maintain the health and safety of Hubble throughout the next phase of its science mission. The scope of this effort includes all elements of operations other than science operations, as well as systems engineering tasks required to maintain Hubble flight and ground systems.
We finish with one of our most-read buiness stories this month, concerning the UK’s efforts to increase its influence overseas through awarding home-grown businesses for selling UK products and services to other countries. The Outstanding Export Award, a new category in the 2011 EEF Future Manufacturing Awards, will recognise manufacturing businesses that are exploiting new markets and winning new business abroad.
The award, in partnership with UK Trade & Investment (UKTI), will celebrate new-to-export companies of all sizes that have developed and implemented an export strategy and successfully traded goods and/or services over the past two years. Award winners will be announced in five UK regions across England and Wales during November, culminating in a national award for the UK’s most outstanding export manufacturer in January 2012. Companies can apply for free using a form downloaded online, with the closing date for entries at the end of this month.