Lontra: Developing the Digital Factory

By Oliver Freeman
Lontra, through the Sheffield City Region Local Growth Fund, aim to create a new digital factory in the local vicinity...

Lontra, a technology company developing products to address traditional engineering challenges, has been awarded £1.58m from the Sheffield City Region Local Growth Fund. The company will use the money to open a high-value digital services centre on the Advanced Manufacturing Park, at Catcliffe, which expected to create 53 jobs in the area by 2024.

Lontra is also set to create a number of new technical jobs as the business develops, some of which will be filled by local graduates and apprentices, for which the company will work with local universities and the AMRC (Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre).

In the next phase of its ambitious plans, Lontra will establish a customer support operation.

The operation will enable the company to undertake Research and Development activity with customers to support the development of innovative new products. Phase two will also see Lontra building a “smart” factory in Sheffield, which will provide more engineering, research and development and technical support jobs.

James Muir, Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) chairman, said: “This is the first step in a larger investment opportunity that will ultimately see Lontra basing its manufacturing capability here.

“It is great news that the new digital centre and future manufacturing plant will create many new high-value jobs in the region.”

Steve Lindsey, CEO of Lontra, said: “This is the start of an ambitious programme to build our digital services business globally. We could have located it anywhere in the UK or indeed the world, but we chose Sheffield. Locating here means having access to an abundance of skilled workers and being able to build our supplier network on a local basis. We see it as a real win-win both for us and for the local economy.”

“Sheffield has a strong history of manufacturing excellence, and we plan to collaborate with a number of organisations in the area, including the AMRC. The city is also well served by good access to motorway networks, and the ports, which are a great benefit as the majority of our products eventually produced here will be exported to the US,” he added.

The Lontra Digital Centre will enable the company to develop its aftersales support services to customers for its compressor products worldwide. The Sheffield City Region grant will also be put towards the purchase of demonstrator machines which will use advanced artificial intelligence techniques and sensor systems to enable customers’ machines to be controlled and monitored globally. This means that Lontra will be able to cut maintenance costs for its customers, minimise downtime and reduce energy bills.

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