In response to Gordon Murray's question 'Why does Cummins need another plant?' (Letters, aj 16.7.98), it should be noted that the new building in Kent replaced an existing facility nearby that Cummins had acquired some years ago. The expansion of its power-generation business required larger premises and better working conditions; the existing workforce has been transferred and additional jobs have been created in an area of high unemployment.
The new plant is for the assembly of extremely large generator sets, requiring headroom for travelling cranes of 12-13m and the ability to turn the production lines at right angles when necessary. Cummins has stated that it examined several of its existing engine plants (including Shotts) and found none was suitable as they were primarily designed for a radically different, smaller-scale manufacturing process.
To safeguard its patronage, the ability to adapt architecturally significant buildings is now of great importance to Cummins, and much of the early briefing process on the Kent project was spent optimising a flexible workplace that was not too closely tied to a particular manufacturing process.