Making it – one year on at Portadown

September 13th, 2017 Posted in: Lakesmere

In the summer of 2016, McMullen Facades moved into its new manufacturing facility in Portadown, Northern Ireland.  Three times bigger than the company’s previous premises, McMullen’s new factory is the largest of its kind in the UK.  One year on from the move, McMullen Facades’ managing director Ronnie Mills looks back on progress to date and explores what’s in store for the future.

We may have only travelled a few miles from our existing factory in Moira to our new facility in Portadown but the move marked a significant step in McMullen’s journey to become the UK’s major manufacturer of unitised façades. Our investment in machinery, automation and handling equipment has helped to increase production, with the potential for the factory to be one of the largest in Europe when at full capacity.  Our order book has also grown and our additional resources have helped establish us as the only UK based specialist contractor equipped to design, manufacture and install specialist glass facades for projects above 40 storeys.  It’s been a busy 12 months!

Resources

Providing a high-quality and reliable service that meets our clients’ demands is a key priority for us and as such, investing in the expansion of our in-house resources has been an important business strategy.  The new factory in Portadown has become the hub of our manufacturing work and from here, we are able to produce and distribute specialist façade solutions to contracts throughout the UK. Significantly larger than our previous factory, our new facility has capacity for up to nine operational production lines with on-site storage, ample room to implement efficient workflow procedures and develop an environment for continuous improvement.

McMullen Facades - Factory

Recruitment

We have a great team here at McMullen and over the last year, people power has been vital to both establishing the new factory and getting everything up and running. The dedication of our teams has ensured a seamless transition and minimal disruption to our clients.

Factory Workers

Already a major employer in the local area, we’ve been busy recruiting across a number of disciplines to support our growing work in the manufacturing sector.  As well as skilled factory workers, CNC operatives and fabricators, we’ve also made a number of key senior level appointments from forward-thinking manufacturing sectors such as the automotive industry. Most recently we recruited a new production director who will play a key role in developing our best practice and lean manufacturing techniques. Our robust resources on the factory floor are being further supported by McMullen’s extensive design team which comprises a 70+ strong team of technical managers, structural engineers, façade engineers, thermal engineers and system designers.

Reliability

As many clients and architects see the value of working with a single specialist that can address the full scope of the building envelope from design, manufacture and installation, our new factory has put us in an even stronger position to satisfy this growing demand.  Investment in our in-house manufacturing capabilities has paved the way for the greater use of off-site construction techniques; an area in which we have made significant progress over the last year.

McMullen Factory Floor

With much of our current workload being in the high-rise city centre market in London, our off-site manufacturing capabilities have been honed to support this. For example, our trucks can leave Portadown at 3pm and arrive in London by 7am the following morning with quality off-site manufactured unitised façade panels ready for on-site installation. We are similarly very well placed to support our work in the Northern Powerhouse, with a number of our contracts being in the key regional city of Manchester.

By providing a credible alternative to European façade contractors that have previously dominated the high-rise market, we are proud of our growing order book. Committed to providing a greater degree of reliability in these unsettled times, we are able to offer cost certainty to our clients as our facades are manufactured here in the UK.

Real benefits

Supported by our experienced design team, the investment in our manufacturing facility has helped create a niche position for the company in the high-rise city centre market and increasingly, more and more of our contracts are benefitting from the provision of innovative off-site solutions.

The Pinnacle, a 15-storey high-rise scheme in London’s Battersea Reach was one of our first contracts to go through the new Portadown factory and features a full off-site manufactured façade.  Other high-profile high rises in the capital including Hoola and Elephant Road have also benefited from our off-site service and as a result, our work in this sector has continued to grow onwards and upwards.  Our manufacturing team is currently engaged with producing the unitised façade solution for two of Elephant and Castle’s most significant developments – the new 41-storey Two Fifty One scheme and The Highwood, a new 31-storey residential tower in Elephant Park.  Work is also underway on production of the striking façade of the new S2 Building in London’s King Cross. As I said, it’s been a busy 12 months!

Read all about it

With so many exciting developments taking place throughout our first year at Portadown, we were delighted to recently host an exclusive factory tour for leading architectural magazine RIBA J. Having visited our previous facility in Moira back in 2015, there are plenty of changes to report and we look forward to sharing the article when it’s published later this autumn.

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