Wednesday, November 12, 2014

News: Ridgway outlines £80m ambition for AMRC

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Professor Keith Ridgway CBE, executive dean of the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) with Boeing, has outlined plans for the ground-breaking centre to more than double its turnover to in excess of £80m over the next five years.

Based on the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) and a partner in the HVM Catapult (the government's strategic initiative that aims to revitalise the manufacturing industry), the AMRC focuses on advanced machining and materials research for aerospace and other high-value manufacturing sectors. It is a partnership between industry and academia, which has become a model for research centres worldwide.

Speaking at the annual "Tech Fellows Conference," organised by the AMRC for its partners, who include Boeing, Rolls-Royce, BAE Systems and Airbus, Prof Ridgeway outlined new opportunities for the AMRC in fields including civil nuclear power, medical devices, training for the high value manufacturing sector and virtual and augmented reality.

More than 70 delegates joined with AMRC staff to discuss unique work on cryogenic machining and high performance grinding, weaving composites on a new 3D loom, and enabling technologies that will transform gear machining including machines, metrology and surfacing.

The centre attracts paid industry members at different tiers, keen to make use of the world-class machines and facilities at the AMRC. The model also enables the centre to secure European and Government funding for a diverse range of cutting edge technologies, from shaped metal deposition in the aerospace industry to the use of bio-composites in the automotive industry.

The AMRC employs over 250 people and has helped the University of Sheffield to overtake the University of Cambridge for engineering research income. The model has been replicated in Denmark, Australia, Italy, the Netherlands, Germany and India.

Professor Ridgway joined with Rotherham-born businessman Adrian Allen OBE, commercial director at The AMRC, to launch the centre with Boeing in 2001 on derelict wasteland at Waverley in Rotherham. In 2004, the AMRC moved into a purpose-built facility as the anchor tenant for the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP). The centre grew rapidly and, after securing a further £10m funding, opened the 4,500 sq m AMRC Rolls-Royce Factory of the Future in 2008.

A focus for the UK's nuclear supply chain, the Nuclear AMRC took possession of its multimillion pound facility on the AMP in October 2011. The Knowledge Transfer Centre opened in early 2012 and the new AMRC Training Centre, which opened on the AMP in autumn 2013, provides advanced apprenticeship and higher training for manufacturing companies and is already targeting further expansion.

The state of the art Design Prototype & Test Centre (DPTC) doubled in size this year and brings together design and prototyping with structural testing, key areas in the research of high-value manufacturing sectors such as aerospace, energy, motorsport and medical technology.

Through the years, the AMRC has also grown through acquisitions. The National Metals Technology Centre (NAMTEC) joined in 2012 and internationally renowned company Castings Technology International (Cti) was acquired in 2013.

Last year, the university secured funding to develop the model into new areas – healthcare technologies and the creative and digital sectors. The Medical AMRC ensures the results of internationally significant research are developed into products and brought to market quickly and cost effectively.

Work is already underway on the site of the former Sheffield City Airport where the AMRC with Boeing signed a deal to secure 50 acres of land at Sheffield Business Park, paving the way for the expansion of the AMRC and building on its success on the AMP.

The £43m Factory 2050 will be the UK's first fully reconfigurable assembly and component manufacturing facility for collaborative research and will develop ways of responding to requirements for increasingly flexible, automated factories capable of making a range of highly customisable products.

The AMRC website

Images: AMRC

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