Mersey Maritime - A driving force for the maritime industry on merseysideMersey Maritime - A driving force for the maritime industry on merseyside

By Mersey Maritime

Get on your Soap Box – Unilever Packaging Challenge

Unilever have invested in a state of the art Advanced Manufacturing Centre at their Port Sunlight base on the Wirral. The centre houses a pilot plant for the testing of new product and packaging developments and the consumer giant is now appealing to the sensor community for novel approaches to optimise their use of the facility.

Sensor City are calling for interested companies, entrepreneurs and academics to participate in a two day Hack and Pitch event facilitated by InnovateUK, to propose potential solutions to three key challenges raised by Unilever.

The event will run over two days and participants will hear from members of the Unilever Personal Care team about the following challenges, before spending time creating a solution pitch to be delivered to a Unilever panel on the second day.


  1. Measuring packaging resilience throughout the supply chain

As new packs are created and tested, new ways are sought to quantify how well optimised the pack is, how smoothly it runs in the supply chain, the forces it is exposed to and opportunities to enhance and improve it further. Unilever want to work with partners who can help develop a way of measuring the impact on packaging as it is transported, sorted, labelled, filled and capped.

  1. Development of robust in-line measurement techniques to track microstructure evolution during processing of personal care liquids (shampoo, bodywash, conditioners)

Due to the speed of innovation projects, there is usually little time to fully assess the effect of process tolerances to raw materials quality, dose accuracy, to name a few factors. Consequently, it can take several production batches to fully qualify a new product. Unilever has an interest in sensing innovations capable of measuring physical properties of materials in-line, so that corrective actions can be taken during production and with minimum wastage.

  1. Packaging life-cycle tracking and instant re-order

Recent trends have indicated that consumers are becoming increasingly more interested in the where and how their products are being made. Technology approaches to monitoring and tracking the entire life cycle of pack, from purchase through to disposal, and mechanisms for instant re-order, are sought.

You are invited to respond to one, two or all three challenges.

To find out more or register for this event please click here. 

By Mersey Maritime

Geo Data Systems Limited: Upcoming Open Days

On behalf of John Bean, Managing Director of Geo Data Systems Limited (GDSL), we would like to extend an exciting offer to attend one of their upcoming open days.  Industry leaders are invited to come and see their secure facility in Southport, and view their full range of services.

GDSL is a Global Mobility Service Provider and System Integrator, committed to delivering High-Quality Voice and Data Services to customers anywhere in the world, regardless of their location on Land in the Air and at Sea.

During the next 12 months GDSL will be delivering FULL FIBRE BROADBAND at speeds up to 10Gbps! These services will be deliverable to all and any of the business areas and industrial estates anywhere within the LCR, providing businesses with not only FULL FIBRE BROADBAND but DIRECT PRIVATE ACCESS to their Secure Tier 3 Data Centre Facility which is located in Southport Business Park.

These services are initially being offered anywhere in the LCR, however may be extended to any other location that you have an operation subject to further discussion, survey and investigation.


21st November 2017        09:00 to 17:00

28th November 2017       09:00 to 17:00

5th December 2017          09:00 to 17:00

12th December 2017        09:00 to 17:00

To find out more or book your place please email John directly at Other dates can be arranged if these prove inconvenient.



CLS Datasheet

By Mersey Maritime

Mersey firms collaborate to offer expert assistance to European armed forces

Merseyside marine welding and fabrication specialist has manufactured a series of specialist boat cradles to store and transport high-speed military workboats.

Wren Engineering secured the project with Liverpool business Marine Specialised Technology (MST). The cradles will be used to handle ribs and inflatables deployed by European armed forces.

Wren Engineering, founded in 1990, was recently bought by Wirral entrepreneur and former armed forces member Jonathan Willoughby.

He said Wren had developed a long-standing relationship with MST – renowned as a world-leading rigid Inflatable and workboat supplier for military and professional use.

“Our team of engineers designed and manufactured a series of boat carrying cradles and engine mounts to transport ribs used by armed forces across Europe,” said Mr Willoughby.

“They were constructed for easy loading, storage and manoeuvrability.

“While the ribs and inflatables are robust, durable and expertly made, our job was to ensure they could be safely protected while out of the water for stowage and transported between locations.

“The cradles and mounts have been designed using high grade aluminium steel providing strong reinforcement and an ideal protective skeleton for the workboats to lay in.”

Mr Willoughby said the scale of Wren’s operation, with a 6,000 sq ft workshop and wide range of plant equipment, enables it to deliver a broad range of services to clients such as MST.

“We are hugely appreciative of the close relationship we have developed in the local Merseyside maritime cluster with other world-leading firms such as MST,” he said.

“This enables us to support each other for mutual benefit and work in collaboration on specialist projects.”


Tony McDonough
Consultant at YBNews
Mobile: 07931 964948
Twitter: tonymc39

By Mersey Maritime

Mersey Maritime to host major UK summit on maritime and global trade

Mersey Maritime is to host a high-level summit for UK maritime industry leaders and senior Government trade officials in the next few weeks.

They will converge on the Mersey Maritime Knowledge Hub in Birkenhead on Monday, December 4, with the aim of providing the industry with the latest information on export and investment support.

Brexit looms

With the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union now less than two years away it is vital the maritime sector gears itself for a seismic change in the way Britain trades with the rest of the world.
The Department for International Trade (DIT) Maritime UK are behind the idea for the Maritime Export & Investment Forum which they will hold three times a year at different locations around the country.

Each one will be chaired Russell Gould, chairman of the Society of Maritime Industries, and its aims are:

  • For industry to learn about the export and investment support provided by government and engage in 1-2-1 discussion with those providers of support
  • For the Government to hear feedback on its plans and priorities in the export and investment arena
  • To inform all of relevant activity and provide catalyst for engagement
  • To bring together the breadth of the UK maritime sector and government departments with an interest in maritime exports and investment.

A core team comprising DIT, Maritime UK and its trade association members will continue to engage in strategic discussions. These strategic discussions will be informed and shaped by the forum.

Trading relationships

High on the agenda at the December event in Birkenhead will be future trade with China, Brazil, South Korea, Japan, ASEAN, India.

Chris Shirling-Rooke, chief executive of Mersey Maritime, said: “Liverpool city region is one of the most important strategic locations in the UK for the maritime and international trade sectors and the decision to hold the December forum here reflects that.

“In 2019 Britain will leave the European Union and that departure, in whatever form it takes. will be one of the biggest economic events in decades.

“We know through dialogue with our own members that they are keen to maximise the opportunities the post-Brexit world will offer. These forums will provide a vital link with Government and offer invaluable information in what will be an historic period.”


Tony McDonough
Consultant at YBNews
Mobile: 07931 964948
Twitter: tonymc39

By Mersey Maritime

Engineering College sets up new training facility for welders to meet growing demand

One of Merseyside’s leading industrial training facilities is launching a new commercial welding training centre.

In a push to meet the skills demand for Liverpool city region’s fast-growing maritime and engineering sector, Birkenhead’s Engineering College has secured accreditation to offer recognised welding qualifications.

The college, which rebranded in October 2016, currently trains 330 apprentices. It works with more than 70 clients operating across sectors including construction, nuclear, petrochemical, renewables, oil and gas, health and maritime.

College chief executive Terry Weston said the new welding training facility has been set up specifically in response to industry demand.

It also forms part of the college’s broader expansion plan to double in size in the next five years.
Located in Monks Ferry, Birkenhead, the new training facility includes eight top specification welding bays with state-of-the-art extraction systems.

Further investment has been pumped into classrooms with new IT facilities to deliver technical training and testing.

“Since re-branding in late 2016 our commercial welding team has been working tirelessly alongside The Welding Institute to set up a certified commercial welding training and testing centre,” said Mr Weston.

“Feedback from a number of companies we work in partnership with highlighted the lack of certified welding test centres in the local area.

“Collectively we saw the opportunity to tackle the training gap. However, we are not only here to undertake welder qualification testing, we are also here to train and develop welders to meet the skills shortage in an ever-growing industry.”

Tony McDonough
Consultant at YBNews
Mobile: 07931 964948
Twitter: tonymc39

By Mersey Maritime

Sherrington secures new senior manager for Liverpool-based global security firm

Executive recruitment firm Sherrington Associates has facilitated the hiring of a new general manager on behalf of global security and risk management consultancy MIRIS International.

John McKiernan joins MIRIS this month and will lead the firm’s global operations and logistics from its head office in Liverpool.

Mr McKiernan brings with him a wealth of relevant experience from a previous career in the military and in commercial operational management roles with organisations including Capita and Saab.

MIRIS was founded by managing director Mike Williams in 2011 to provide risk management services to the maritime industry, as well as providing a range of security services to non-maritime clients in industries such as aviation and leisure.

Managing director Mike Williams said: “John’s appointment further strengthens the MIRIS team and its operational capabilities and we’re very pleased with Sherrington Associate’s involvement in the recruitment process”.

Sherrington managing director Rob McKay added: “We are delighted to have supported such an exciting company as MIRIS and look forward to seeing the business grow with John in the team.”

By Mersey Maritime


Jonathan Willoughby is establishing himself as one of Liverpool city region’s most dynamic maritime and energy entrepreneurs.

Mr Willoughby, 46, has 25 years’ experience in the oil and gas sector also runs welding and fabrication company Yorkwall Engineering in Ellesmere Port.

And the former member of the armed forces has recently added Liverpool marine fabrication firm and Mersey Maritime member, Wren Industrial, to his business portfolio.

He is aiming to double turnover at Wren in the next 12 months and the purchase forms part of a broader ‘build and buy’ strategy which will see the addition of more complementary engineering companies, eventually merging all into one new brand name.

Ferry contract

Wren Industrial has just delivered the manufacture and installation of a collection of new water-tight and fire-rated doors for the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company.

The welding and fabrication specialist has a long-standing relationship with the famous ferry firm, which is renowned as the oldest continuously operating passenger shipping company in the world – founded in 1830.

The latest work involved ‘through-night’ door maintenance onboard freight, passenger and vehicle ferries the Manannan, which operates between Liverpool and the Isle of Man, and Ben-my-Chree.
Wren engineers travelled to the Port of Heysham in Lancashire to carry out the installation work while sailing overnight to avoid disruption to service.

“The installation of new doors on the Manannan and Ben-my-Chree involved full removal and replacement of a number of doors,” said Mr Willoughby.

“This included all the fixtures and fittings from handles and locks to seals and latches.

“The new doors were designed and fabricated with mild-steel which we treated at our manufacturing hall in Liverpool, before being transported and welded into position.

“They will be used by passengers and crew and are made to a high grade, water-tight and fire-rated specification.

“Wren Industrial has been working in the commercial maritime market for close to 30 years and specifically with the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company for more than 20 years.”

Wider ambitions

Mr Willoughby says the commercial maritime sector will remain “pivotal’ to Wren’s growth but he also has wider ambitions for the business.

He explained: “We are also targeting military, leisure, offshore oil and gas, as well as renewable markets.

“We have a number of heavyweight projects in the pipeline which we are looking to land towards the back end of autumn, including a high-level military contract.

“On land, we are also aiming to ramp up work in the industrial market building on excellent work we have delivered for the likes of Lloyd & Jones industrial supplies and Kirby pump maker Selwood.”

Track record

Wren benefits greatly from a robust track record, developed of decades, working for the likes of the Royal Navy and Royal Fleet Auxiliary.

The firm is well-known for its high-quality engineering capability and excellent customer service standards.

“Wren Industrial is a problem solver and the deep knowledge of our 20-strong engineering team is massively important to the success of our business,” Mr Willoughby added.

“This level of expertise allows us to undertake virtually any welding and fabrication job on any type of vessel.

“The scale of our operation with a 6,000 sq ft workshop and wide range of plant equipment further enables us to work with many materials including carbon steel, stainless steel, copper, brass, aluminium and plastics.”


Tony McDonough, Consultant at YB News

By Mersey Maritime


Established in 2003 to represent the interests of the maritime and mercantile Sector across the Liverpool city region, Mersey Maritime creates the right conditions for business growth and help raise awareness of maritime industries.

The sea remains the lifeblood of modern world trade and for centuries the UK has been the home of all forms of maritime and mercantile business, supporting almost 1m jobs and directly supporting just over £40bn in business turnover.

Considered to be one of the best examples of a maritime membership organisation in Europe, we work with close to 1,300 businesses.We understand the key issues and their commonality among the maritime industry and we can act as an independent facilitator.

Mersey Maritime has consistently supported business growth, helping to build strong, local supply chains and considered to be one of the best examples of a maritime cluster across Europe.

We also deliver a unique business support programme to maritime sector specific SMEs as part of the New Markets 2 programme and have already helped to create more than 60 jobs in the past 12 months.

You are invited to join us, there’s strength in numbers Together we are stronger.

For more information on either membership of Mersey Maritime or to access the ERDF New Markets 2 programme, please visit our website:

Chris Shirling-Rooke, CEO

By Mersey Maritime


Earlier this year Maritime UK commissioned research to estimate the value of the UK maritime sector and the results were released during London International Shipping Week.

Carried out by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR), the study estimates the maritime and marine sectors provide 185,700 direct jobs nationwide and generate revenues of £40bn.

However, those direct jobs are just the starting point. Each job then feeds a number of indirect jobs and the CEBR reports this adds up to around 937,000 jobs, generating revenues of more than £90bn.

To put that into context, the comparable figures for the aerospace sector come in at one-third less than our sector.

In the North West the maritime and marine sectors provide 18,300 jobs directly, generating just over £3bn, and 76,100 jobs indirectly, generating revenues of more than £6.5bn.

Direct GVA contribution is more than £1.1bn and this figure rises to almost £2.9bn in terms of the indirect contribution.

Whereas the regional statistics are helpful and demonstrate how the industry is one of the major economic drivers in the North West, we have reason to believe that the figures for our region are considerably understated.

We shall be providing submissions to CEBR to help demonstrate that they have failed to identify large chunks of the maritime and marine sector within the region.

Indeed, a recent study that Mersey Maritime commissioned with key partners for the Liverpool City Region estimates more than 22,000 direct jobs alone
Whatever are the true figures, it is important that we get across the message to all key stakeholders that the regional Maritime and Marine Industry is an economic giant in the region and it is heavily investing for the future. All members are encouraged to assist in spreading the message.

And one final statistic, yes, I do confess to reaching the big 60 earlier this month.


Tony McDonough
Consultant at YBNews
Mobile: 07931 964948
Twitter: tonymc39



By Mersey Maritime


Oxford’s ‘dreaming spires’ are a little safer now following work carried out by experts from Mersey Maritime member Firetrace.

The company, which has a base in Bootle, specialises in fire suppression systems which can detect and extinguish fires before they get out of control.

They were contacted by the University of Oxford after a blaze caused by a scientific experiment.

Dr Jamie Hicks from the university said: “The fire was initially caused by a small piece of potassium that reacted with moisture during an experiment of study. This caused a small spark that set a beaker of hexane on fire.

“As there were a few other beakers of solvent in the fume hood, as well as other flammable items, the fire spread quickly.

“By the time we had got a fire extinguisher, the fire was too large to handle safely.  We shut the fume hood sash and within 10 seconds the CO2 dump had been set off and the fire was immediately extinguished.”

Firetrace attended two days after the blaze to install a replacement fire suppression system to ensure the fume cupboard was protected for future use.

Fortunately, there was no need for the emergency services to be contacted and the downtime of the laboratory was minimal as the CO2 extinguishant is efficient and caused no damage to the components.


Tony McDonough
Consultant at YBNews
Mobile: 07931 964948
Twitter: tonymc39


By Mersey Maritime


The ‘Dogs of Dell’ was just one of several examples mentioned by digital marketing expert Jo Scott at the latest Mersey Maritime breakfast event.

Jo, who is head of marketing at Peel Ports was the latest speaker at what has become an invaluable monthly event at MM’s Birkenhead HQ in Vanguard Way.

She told the dozens of Mersey Maritime members in attendance that when it comes to digital marketing “content is king… but distribution is queen”.

It is not enough to create great content, she added, you also needed to make the most use of social media channels to disseminate your message.

Jo used the ‘Dogs of Dell” campaign initiated by computer giant Dell which was used to highlight the work carried out by ‘service dogs’ – pooches that provide a range of help to people with disabilities.

It was, she said, a great example of a company engaging with as wider audience as possible by going way beyond simply promoting products and services.

Her top tips for digital marketing, were:

• Keep focused on your goal
• Understand your audience
• Develop engaging content
• Tailor it to the channel
• Curate content
• Show personality and humour
• Encourage participation

The Mersey Maritime networking breakfasts are held at 7.30am on the first Tuesday of every month and also feature updates from chief executive Chris Shirling-Rooke.
Appearing at November’s event will be Giles A Heimann, corporate director of Fleet Personnel and Bernhard of Schulte Shipmanagement who will talk about: “Shipping: the conservative ‘beast’ gains momentum for change”.


Tony McDonough
Consultant at YBNews
Mobile: 07931 964948
Twitter: tonymc39

By Mersey Maritime


For all of us working in the maritime sector there is immense pride the Liverpool city region is buzzing once more, and there are so many companies doing great things.
We believe it is vital though, not to overlook the asset that makes this all possible, people. It is the maritime professionals, with expertise, qualifications, skills, contacts, ideas and drive, that make a difference.

As Liverpool cements its maritime powerhouse status, it means attracting and retaining the right people locally.

That is what the Propeller Club Liverpool is all about. We are a professional network focused on promoting the industry and bringing maritime people together. We exist to network, to mentor, to develop business – and we try to enjoy it too.

As part of an international organisation, with branches all over the world, our members are welcomed in places from New York to Manila, Mumbai to Monaco.
“In 2014 a group decided to take up the challenge, and our Liverpool chapter was born. We now have around 120 individual members, supported by 10 amazing companies who act as our corporate supporters.

From our monthly networking events, we also host lunches, as well as all manner of different events through the year.

We have raised money for maritime charities and good causes, and are proud of the mark we are making on the UK shipping scene.

We have embraced the arts and culture too – as we look to bring maritime issues back to the public consciousness.

In this most maritime of cities you can find a real sense of a shipping community, with vibrancy, passion and sense of belonging. We look forward to welcoming you to First Thursday, and you can find out what all the fuss is about.

See to find out more or chat to us on Twitter @propellerists


Tony McDonough
Consultant at YBNews
Mobile: 07931 964948
Twitter: tonymc39

Get on your Soap Box – Unilever Packaging Challenge
Geo Data Systems Limited: Upcoming Open Days
Mersey firms collaborate to offer expert assistance to European armed forces
Mersey Maritime to host major UK summit on maritime and global trade
Engineering College sets up new training facility for welders to meet growing demand