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February 2008 edition

The factory that has to manufacture its own competitive advantage

Bombardier Aerospace, Belfast, is used to the constant pressure of having to stay at least one step ahead of the global competition. "We need to balance the development of our cutting edge expertise with the sharing of information with our suppliers," says vp and gm Michael Ryan. "This means a continual reinvestment in advanced skills and technology to stay ahead and maintain a differential.

"We have to recognise that we have no customer base in Northern Ireland and no natural resources and that we are located on the western edge of the U.K. and Europe. We are, in geographical terms, far removed from North America, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Russia and the Far East. Expenses are at least on a par with Europe. So we have very few advantages except our competitive edge and the skill of our workforce."

This has led to a continual and intensive focus on research and development. Priorities include attracting the best graduates and ensuring that the workforce enjoys worthwhile opportunities and careers. "We have an excellent reputation as an employer in Northern Ireland," says Ryan. "Our staff turnover is very low. We attract, keep, develop and train up our staff in interesting and challenging roles. Our staff turnover is not more than three per cent - most companies would give their eye teeth for a turnover that low. Most of Northern Ireland's industry has disappeared. So, for people who would like to work in our kind of industry, and want to stay in Northern Ireland, we ....

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Bombardier Inc. Airframer
Rolls-Royce plc
Bombardier Belfast Nacelles, Wing Spoilers, Wing Flaps, Aircraft Structural Components, Fuselage Sections, Wings, Empennages, Fairings, Composite Manufacturing Supplies

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