Thursday, June 26, 2014

News: Proving Factory gears up for production

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The Proving Factory, an innovative partnership between Tata Steel and high-tech companies in the automotive supply chain, has taken on interim premises, in order to start developing the technologies of tomorrow, today.

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.

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.

Industry experts, Productiv Limited has invested £3m in a 6,000 sq m factory in Coventry where the assembly operation will be located, while Tata Steel has signed a contract to lease a 1,000 sq m engineering facility in South Yorkshire, to house state-of-the-art machine tools due to be installed and commissioned by the end of July for The Proving Factory's component manufacturing operation.

The Brinsworth site will still be the permanent home of The Proving Factory's component manufacturing operation and this interim site nearby has allowed component development and manufacturing to begin as quickly as possible, with the right amount of space for the size of the current operation.

Mark Broxholme, managing Director of Tata Steel's Speciality Steels business, said: "We have worked hard to plan our development and growth as The Proving Factory's component manufacturing volumes increase towards our target of four million components over the next decade. This new interim site allows us to get started with component development and manufacturing as quickly as possible, while achieving the most efficient combination of required space and cost.

"We have moved significantly closer to manufacturing readiness over the last couple of months, having now machined the first components to go into one of The Proving Factory’s technologies. We are very much looking forward to moving into our new home this month, and are positive our new site will give us the facilities we need to support the delivery of the initial pre-production components and assemblies by the end of this year."

Richard Bruges of The Proving Factory consortium and chief executive of Productiv, added: "These new facilities give The Proving Factory a home, with ample space for growth. We are well on our way to the project vision becoming reality.

"There is a lot of work to be done over the next year or so, but we have a brilliant team of dedicated automotive and production engineers already on board, and we are continuing to recruit outstanding people to help build the future of sustainable British automotive manufacturing."

Technology is being developed by Bladon Jets, Flybrid, Torotrak, Drive Systems Design, Libralato and Magnomatics and the project aims to bridge the gap (or "Valley of Death") between small enterprises developing leading edge low carbon technology and large vehicle manufacturers. "Proving volumes" of 10,000-20,000 units a year will be produced and support will be given in moving to higher volumes through the traditional first-tier supply chain.

In-house pre-production trials are expected to commence in August 2014, with production of the first advanced technologies to begin in January 2015.

Proving Factory website

Images: Tata Steel

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