Wednesday, February 11, 2015

News: Factory 2050 could be here in 2015

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Rapid progress is being made at the site of The University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) with Boeing's revolutionary Factory 2050, where construction workers start to erect the structural steelwork.

The £43m development is set to keep the Sheffield city region at the cutting edge of advanced manufacturing. 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.

Designed by Bond Bryan, the circular building, behind the Sheffield Business Centre and on the old airport runway at Sheffield Business Park, will combine a range of technologies, including advanced robotics, flexible automation, unmanned workspace, off-line printing in virtual environments linked to plug-and-play robotics, 3D printing from flexible automated systems, man-machine interfaces, and new programming and training tools.

Factory 2050 has been designed so that machines and manufacturing modules can easily be moved around the shop floor. Sophisticated monitoring systems will generate large volumes of information, which will be used to develop technology that allows machine tools and processes to change the way they are working, maximising production rates and minimising tool wear, while maintaining quality.
Interserve Construction began work at the end of last year and fitting out of both the research block and workshop could begin as early as May, with completion of the whole project scheduled for the end of 2015.

Last year, the AMRC 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 Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP), just over the border in Rotherham. Factory 2050 will be the first building on a new Advanced Manufacturing Campus, which could see the University build up to a million square feet of new research facilities on the site over the next seven to ten years.

Professor Keith Ridgway CBE, executive dean at the AMRC, said: "We want Factory 2050 to be the most advanced factory in the world and part of our long-term development of high value manufacturing – an area where this region has an international lead.

"Factory 2050 will be the UK's first totally reconfigurable, digital factory, built to respond to an increasing requirement for advanced manufacturers to be able to make rapid changes to product design, as a result of ever-changing customer demands.

"The development will ensure that the UK's advanced manufacturing supply chain can tap into the expertise it needs to make the most of those trends.

"Factory 2050 has also been designed to make young people enthusiastic about following a career in advanced manufacturing. We want to see hundreds of kids noses pressed up against Factory 2050's glass walls as they marvel at what is going on inside and want to be part of it."

A conference is being held at the AMRC in March to discuss Factory 2050 and the advanced technologies and systems that it will contain.

AMRC website

Images: Interserve / AMRC / Bond Bryan

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