The first buses have begun rolling out of Optare’s new bus assembly plant at Sherburn-in-Elmet, Yorkshire.
The inaugural vehicle to leave the plant was an Optare Versa for delivery to Go North East – one of a batch of 20 being taken by the operator. Final finishing of the vehicle was carried out in Sherburn.
Progressive transfer of production from Optare’s existing site at Leeds started at the beginning of August with the move of finishing shop activities and predelivery inspection leading to final dispatch of buses now taking place directly from the new plant. As featured in CBW995, Optare plans to complete the stage-bystage relocation by mid October.
CEO Jim Sumner said: “The new plant allows us to introduce a far more flexible layout and have all the necessary skills and management focus under one roof. With a continuous U-shape flow line using dedicated line-side sub-assembly areas to balance production, this will allow a more optimal production flow compared to the current plant layouts.
“One of the major facility improvements is the £750,000 investment we have made in two new paint booths. These have a ‘bake’ drying cycle of less than 40 minutes compared to the current average of up to three hours and this will contribute significantly to achieving the increased capacity of up to 1,200 buses a year on a single shift which Sherburn will be capable of.
He continued: “The increased capacity and flexibility of this new plant enables us to offer a full range of single and double-deck models to satisfy all market sectors and in both left and right hand drive, while keeping fixed costs down.”
The strategic location of the new plant provides fast access to the A1M and M62, supporting easier delivery of finished buses to all parts of the UK and to the Port of Hull for shipment to the Continent. Optare believes the location will also enable speedier supply of components from a range of ‘Best Cost Country’ suppliers through its collaboration with Ashok Leyland.
Mr Sumer concluded: “Ashok Leyland has supported us in the planning of the new assembly operation with significant expertise based on its own recent new vehicle plants. This has helped to refine the layout and facilities of the new factory and again demonstrates the value of the synergy benefits of this partnership.”