22 Jul 2024


Servomotor-maker doubles capacity in move to new premises

One of the UK’s most successful – but least-known – motor manufacturers, the servomotor specialist SEM, is moving to new purpose-built premises in Kent that will double its manufacturing capacity. The company is investing “tens of millions” of pounds in the move from its existing 5,000m2 premises in Orpington to the new 12,000m2 site at The Bridge Technology Park in Dartford.

SEM, which was founded in 1914, is part of the German Heidenhain group and more than 98% of its production is exported from the UK. Part of the reason for SEM’s expansion is an increasing demand for its products from Heidenhain.

As well as boosting production of SEM’s existing permanent magnet servomotor and asynchronous spindle motor ranges, the new site will allow the company to develop new technologies. At present, SEM produces 25,000–30,000 large servomotors a year, aimed at the top end of the market. It no longer manufactures the smaller brushed machines that it used to make in the past.

The new purpose-built site has allowed SEM to review its production methods and processes and to implement new manufacturing techniques. A climate-controlled environment with near-constant temperature and humidity will help to ensure manufacturing quality, while a high-tech lighting system will enhance working conditions by delivering light levels twice as bright as the older factory.

“The new factory is the start of the process of future-proofing our business as it has been designed with significant further expansion in mind,” says SEM’s managing director, Michael Laming. “We have looked at every one of our manufacturing processes and have identified many opportunities to introduce new systems and new techniques offering a mix of both commercial and technical advantages.”

“This move marks the start of an ambitious five-year plan that will see significant growth with new products introduced that will match the changing face of our customers’ markets in the machine tool, general automation and renewable energy sectors,” adds Steve Jackson, SEM’s sales and marketing manager.

More than 96% of SEM’s staff have agreed to make the 12km move from the Orpington factory – which employs around 220 people – to the Dartford site, which will need about 270 at its predicted increased capacity.

“With this significant investment, SEM is able to take production of its motors to a new level, enabling improved efficiency as well as maintaining consistent high quality,” says Laming. “This attention to detail, and the security that the new facility brings, will ensure that SEM continues to be a success in the long-term.”  

SEM will be transferring its operations gradually to the new site over the next six months.