Wednesday, December 11, 2013

News: AMRC Factory 2050 goes out to tender

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The University of Sheffield has begun the tender process for the construction of the AMRC Factory 2050, the £43m state-of-the-art research factory.

Planned for the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) in Rotherham, the AMRC Factory 2050 will be the UK's first fully reconfigurable assembly and component manufacturing facility for collaborative research, capable of rapidly switching production between different high-value components and one-off parts.

Integrating research and industry collaboration, the government confirmed £10m funding from Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) in June with the remainder of the £43m total cost coming from industry. Manufacturers including Boeing, Airbus, Rolls-Royce, BAE Systems and Spirit AeroSystems are committed to supporting the project.

Professor Keith Ridgway CBE, executive dean of the University of Sheffield AMRC, was recently asked by the Government Office for Science to lead on a study into what the factory of the future will look like as part of the Foresight report into the Future of Manufacturing.

The report said: "The emerging mental model for the Factory of the Future is of centres of creativity and innovation embedded in effective networks of relationships, where capable and talented people use world-class technologies and processes to create new ways of adding value. This is a world of challenge, interest and excitement.

"Factory 2050 provides a focus for manufacturing research roadmaps and will support further initiatives in other industrial sectors."

Manufacturing factories are expected to be fresh and have a "wow" factor, attracting partners, members and staff. They are expected to work closely within the supply chain and have partnership agreements with local universities and schools, between which there is a sustained flow of people, projects and ideas.

The AMRC Factory 2050 will combine technologies including advanced robotics, flexible automation, unmanned workspace, off-line programming in virtual environments linked to plug-and-play robotics, 3D printing from flexible automated systems, man-machine interfaces, and new programming and training tools.

The location is yet to be decided but initial concept design images drawn up by leading architects, Bond Bryan, show the building on land adjacent to the AMRC Training centre that is currently under construction on the AMP. It will have an area of around 4,500 sq m, and will be built to BREEAM "Excellent" environmental standards. It will be constructed largely from glass, to showcase the advanced manufacturing technologies being developed within.

Around 50 researchers and engineers will work in the new facility, which will be completed around the end of 2014.

AMRC website

Images: AMRC

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