SINCE they first began turning around 13 years ago, the 58 turbines that make up the Robin Rigg offshore wind farm have produced 174MW of energy.

However, life is tough for a turbine facing the assault of the elements in the Solway Firth, and the enormous structures require ongoing maintenance and repair.  

This is where Millweld, based north of Workington, comes in - with members of its team regularly sailing out from the Port of Workington to keep the blades spinning safely and effectively.

Since it was established in 2005 by Des Johnstone - who is still managing director - Millweld has worked in general steel fabrication of all types, including pipework, steel and carbon steel tanks and platforms, ladders and staircases. 

Ten of its team of 20 are currently engaged in work on the wind farm, making regular trips offshore from the Port of Workington, while the others work onshore, engaged in a variety of fabrication operations from its four-unit site. 

Iggesund Paperboard, in Workington, is also a major customer as well as seal manufacturer James Walker and Co, in Cockermouth, and Millweld is also engaged in jobs for customers across a range of other sectors.

"We pride ourselves on customer care and we always go that extra mile to accommodate their requirements,” said company director Neil Rowley.

Neil says the company is in the process of growing its footprint in the nuclear sector, particularly as part of the Cumbria Manufacturing Alliance (CMA).

The CMA, which is led by Bendalls and West Cumberland Engineering, brings together 25 businesses from across Cumbria, to tender for major projects collectively.

“Nuclear is a market that we’re looking to grow into,” said Neil. “We’re working with other SMEs on nuclear work. Joining the CMA will help with that, working together as a unit and passing work down through the group."

With plans for much more wind energy production, such as at the Morgan and Mona sites in Morecambe Bay, there is no shortage of opportunities in the renewable energy sector. 

"Certainly we've got the expertise and the knowledge to assist in that area and it's an avenue we would look to expand in if the opportunity arose,” said Neil.

“The plan is to grow the business, whether that’s nuclear or offshore, and to continue to employ local people.”