VIDEO: Inside the vast factory at Explore Manufacturing, Steetley

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Did you know a Worksop firm helped to build Heathrow airport’s new terminal and a new train station for London’s huge Crossrail scheme?

These are the headline successes from Explore Manufacturing, based at Steetley, just five years after opening its pioneering factory.

Explore Manufacturing. Picture: Andrew Roe

Explore Manufacturing. Picture: Andrew Roe

But schools, offices and apartment blocks are also springing up all over the country thanks to the forward thinking processes used here.

Inside the vast factory, concrete parts are cast and assembled to form construction components.

“We provide Laing O’Rourke with pre cast concrete products which are manufactured to a high degree of specification and shipped to building sites for assembly,” explained Explore Manufacturing general manager Stephen Forbes.

“We believe it is a safer way of delivering high value construction projects in a more cost effective and efficient way, compared to traditional methods which are more labour intensive and take longer.”

Explore Manufacturing. Picture: Andrew Roe

Explore Manufacturing. Picture: Andrew Roe

From a standing start, since Explore cast its first element in 2009, the company is now producing more than £40 million of product a year.

Its plans are to grow that to £150 million within the next five years.

More than 80 per cent of its 500 strong workforce already live within a 25 mile radius of the factory, contributing significantly to local job prospects and the economy.

Several apprentices are also taken on each year and given the chance of progressing through the company.

“We have developed a good relationship with North Notts College and every year we recruit a number of manufacturing trainees,” said Stephen.

“We also run a two year apprenticeship programme which teaches a broad range of skills, hopefully with the offer of a full time position at the end.”

“We have a good workforce here with a mix of young and experienced people. We need that balance of both and it’s taken us a while to build up that quality staff base.”

And that workforce is expected to grow considerably in the next few years with plans for a new factory in the pipeline.

Planning consent has been sought for a brand new facility adjacent to the current factory building.

“It will add to our design-for-manufacture and assembly capability,” said Stephen, who said he hopes building work can start on site.

In the meantime Explore Manufacturing has set up another small facility on Manton Industrial Estate building smartwalls.

“We are investing in robots and automation on that site,” said Stephen.

“Smartwalls are internal partition walls which include mechanical and electrical facilities for quick assembly and construction on site.”

And in Dinnington the company has recently acquired GRC UK which makes glass reinforced concrete products.

Explore’s demonstrates how all these manufacturing processes come together with a mock-up classroom at the Steetley site.

This stand alone modular building features all the fittings needed in a 21st century classroom and can be built in little over a day.

An open day for staff and their families will be held on 18th June to celebrate the five year anniversary.

Attractions will include factory tours, demonstrations and a raffle in aid of Explore’s chosen charity Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice.

Said Stephen: “The last five years have been a challenge but also a great experience to take the company from its starting blocks to where we are now.”

“We are all really impressed by what our people have achieved and it’s something the whole Worksop area can be proud of.”