Thursday, March 27, 2014

News: Nuclear AMRC's measured approached to expansion

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The Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (Nuclear AMRC) has secured planning permission for an extension to its state of the art facility on the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) in Rotherham.


The £25m Nuclear AMRC is a joint initiative with industry, The University of Sheffield and The University of Manchester's Dalton Nuclear Institute, and is designed to help build and enhance the UK's civil nuclear new build industry.

The Nuclear AMRC is the focal point for the civil nuclear manufacturing industry in the UK. Part of the government's High Value Manufacturing Catapult, the centre helps to develop capability and competitiveness in the nuclear supply chain through process manufacturing innovation and R&D, driving up quality and reducing cost.

The extension is proposed to accommodate coordinate measuring machines (CMMs). As a research and development facility Nuclear AMRC has outgrown, and in need of an extension, which can be directly accessed from the main workshop. The expansion is set to take place in two phases, extending the 53,000 sq ft Nuclear AMRC building, that was completed in 2011, towards the recently acquired CTI buildings.

Due to the way the centre secures funding, the 2,600 sq ft phase 1 extension will be big enough for one CMM, with a larger, 7,850 sq ft, second phase to follow. The extension will require groundworks to the embankments.

Large components for the energy sector can measure tens of metres in size and weigh many tonnes, but they still need to be engineered to accuracies of a few tens of microns.

With Tier 1 partners like Nikon Metrology and Hexagon Metrology, the Nuclear AMRC is ensuring that components for the new generation of nuclear power stations are developed as efficiently and accurately as possible, reducing the time that the end user has to spend fitting them on site in potentially hazardous environments.

The Nuclear AMRC's DEA Delta Slant is believed to be the largest gantry CMM in any UK research centre. It can measure parts of six metre length and three metre width to accuracies of around 25 microns – a quarter of the width of an average human hair.

One on-going project is looking at more efficient techniques for deep hole boring. Metrology has been critical in this process for ensuring drill bits are in the right place. Another project investigating robotic machining involves tracking the tools and working heads of hexapod robots to fractions of a millimetre, as they operate over a space of up to 30 cubic metres.

Another project with Rotherham-based Newburgh Engineering helped them investigate new instruments and techniques to cut production costs by 30%. Good measurement helped validate these new techniques, which ultimately enabled Newburgh to secure a major global contract.

As the centre grows, so does the number of people it employs. Stuart Harrison has recently been appointed as a new business development director to help UK manufacturers win work in the civil nuclear sector.

Having worked in the nuclear sector since 1991, including 13 years with BNFL at Sellafield, Stuart will work closely with Nuclear AMRC chief executive Mike Tynan and the established business support and manufacturing research teams.

Stuart Harrison, business development director at Nuclear AMRC, said: "The Nuclear AMRC is all about working with the manufacturing sector to give companies access to very high quality manufacturing research, and help them improve their businesses to win work. My role is to help them make that happen."

Nuclear AMRC website

Images: Nuclear AMRC

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