Monday, March 10, 2014

News: Progress at The Proving Factory

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The Proving Factory, an innovative partnership between Tata Steel and high-tech companies in the automotive supply chain, has completed the first phase of development and established the blueprint for helping to develop the technologies of tomorrow.

Tata Steel is the key partner in establishing The Proving Factory and as part of the programme, which is backed by Government funding, a component manufacturing facility is being created at Tata Steel's site at Brinsworth in Rotherham and is set to open in 2015.

The £22m manufacturing initiative will take low-carbon vehicle technologies designed by small high-tech British companies and university research departments and prove their viability in production to increase their chances of being adopted by major motor manufacturers.

Led by industry experts, Productiv Limited, working closely with Tata Steel, technology will be developed by Bladon Jets, Flybrid, Torotrak, Drive Systems Design, Libralato and Magnomatics. Design reviews are currently taking place for each of the partners, which has allowed experts to develop concepts for product development, component manufacturing and systems assembly.

The project centres on technologies with the "potential to transform the vehicles of tomorrow" and aims to bridge the gap (or "Valley of Death") between small enterprises developing leading edge low carbon technology and large vehicle manufacturers.

Recruitment began last year with nine apprentices beginning their training at the state of the art AMRC Training Centre in Rotherham. It is envisaged that 250 direct new jobs will be created directly within The Proving Factory, whilst 1,000 more will be generated throughout the engineering and manufacturing supply chain.

The second phase of the project has now begun. This year, work will take place to refine The Proving Factory systems-assembly and component-machining strategies, complete the supply chain development and confirm and deploy a structured Design Verification Planning tool. The production facilities are then set to be completed production of the initial technologies will begin.

Productiv and Tata Steel, believe that the Proving Factory component manufacturing will have capacity of up to four million components, and an assembly capacity of up to 200,000 systems. The component manufacturing facilities will be housed in a purpose-built facility in Rotherham, equipped with around 100 state of the art production machines.

A second assembly facility is to be situated in the West Midlands and technologies being taking to the market include drive systems for hybrid cars and gear boxes that use powerful magnets to replace meshing gears.

Richard Jones, project manager at The Proving Factory, said: "Having achieved more than we had planned in 2013 we are now driving towards commercial reality. 2014 has already started in a positive way and I cannot help but think that the fact that it has been so well received already is evidence of how important the project's premise is to UK manufacturing – bridging the gap between technology developers and manufacturers."

Tata Steel will be demonstrating innovative applications of its bar products being brought to market through The Proving Factory at this year's wire fair in Dusseldorf, Germany, where two of the six technologies will be on show.

The Proving Factory website

Images: The Proving Factory

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