Northern Irish OEM, SDC Trailers, has completed a €7.7 million expansion to its manufacturing headquarters in Toomebridge, improving production capability and output.
Officially opened in August, the project has created employment opportunities for trainee and experienced painters, welders, engineers and material handlers and will bring the team at SDC to over 900 people making SDC one of Northern Ireland’s largest private sector employers.
“The opening of the new facility at Plant 1 in Toomebridge is an example of SDC’s proactive strategy to meet the growing demand for innovative trailers as required by customers in markets at home and abroad,” said SDC Trailers CEO, Enda Cushnahan.
“The expansion will revolutionise our manufacturing process and gives us the ability to increase output of trailers by 50 per cent on a weekly basis.
“SDC trailers are now demanded in international markets, where they previously had a limited presence. The demand in those markets is for tailored transport solutions which have been the cornerstone of the SDC success story. The new facility has the systems installed to meet the additional demand of trailers in the new markets, whilst shortening delivery times.
“In an era where there is uncertainty, this news will be very much welcomed by the surrounding community, cements the firm as market leader in the UK and Ireland and positions it to challenge in markets overseas,” he said.
Achieving an effective ergonomics process was one of the most important objectives for Cal Carmichael, Operations Officer at SDC.
“Our main objective was to create the best manufacturing working environment in Northern Ireland, enhancing job satisfaction and increasing output of trailers by improving ergonomics,” said Carmichael.
“The new working environment now utilises 50% natural light in large open spaces and introducing technology in a new semi-automatic paint line. There is also spacious changing rooms and a subsidised canteen.
“We completed a lengthy planning process, including visiting manufacturing plants in Ireland, the UK and Europe, to ensure that SDC is now one of the best manufacturing environments to work in Northern Ireland. The 60,000-square-feet expansion also means that Toomebridge is now one of the largest manufacturing production sites in Northern Ireland,” he said.
The expansion is to facilitate piping and wiring operations and the paint process. The new semi – automated paint facility has been equipped with top of the range equipment, including a robust conveyor system, two bespoke paint bays for priming and top coat fitted with 6 ‘Wall Man’ units and high spec curing ovens. SDC are confident that their new paint process is the most sophisticated in the industry, the Two Pack Epoxy paint will achieve a high gloss, high quality and durable finish that will enhance the residual value of the trailer.
The new facility will complement SDC’s Award Winning Training Academies which were opened in 2017. The Training Academies, specialising in Piping and Wiring and Welding, allow Apprentices to receive full training in the new facility during their paid apprenticeship. Upon completion of their training, a full-time permanent job is offered.
“The Welding and Piping and Wiring Academies have been a great success with people of all ages in Toomebridge and surrounding areas now enjoying careers at SDC,” said SDC Trailers Human Resources, Jane Millar. “Since opening in 2017 we have had 100 apprentices graduate. The Academies have also provided current employees the opportunity to receive training in a new field, the benefit of this is that it further enhances job satisfaction, one of SDC’s most important values.”
SDC Trailers celebrates its 40th anniversary this year.