Monday, March 2, 2015

News: AMRC research “pays dividends for business”

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The benefits to business generated by the partnership between industry and academia at the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) with Boeing, have been highlighted in a recent paper by the EEF.

Based on the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) in Rotherham 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.

The Engineering Employers' Federation (EEF) is the UK trade organisation dedicated to the future of manufacturing, and recently published a specially-commissioned report - Manufacturing, Britain's Future.

The report sets out how the 4th industrial revolution is at hand, and how, in the global battle for dominance, innovative firms can take the lead and help position Britain as the manufacturing and technology hub of Europe.

Terry Scuoler, CEO of EEF, said: "Our sector's ability to remain on top of the 4th industrial wave hinges on the decisions made now and over the next decade by consecutive governments. We must continue to establish the foundations to support our manufacturing renaissance, particularly alleviating the pressure that Industry 4.0 will place on investment and skills. It is vital that the Government steps up to this challenge and works hand-in-hand with manufacturers and academia to ensure that the UK is not left behind.

"We can no longer afford to be short term in our thinking. A visionary future requires a visionary approach. We have to think in terms of our requirements to 2050 and beyond."

In a section detailing those companies and organisations that are shaping the future of manufacturing, the EEF uses the AMRC as a key case study stating that AMRC research "pays dividends for business." It highlights work that the AMRC has done with companies ranging from Rolls-Royce to smaller, innovative companies like Performance Engineered Solutions and Technicut Ltd.

The AMRC has more than 70 members and has worked with hundreds of businesses to enhance the industry's performance. A good example of this is the development of a new manufacturing method, which has dramatically reduced the machining time and increased the quality of the gas turbine discs used in Rolls-Royce jet engines.

The report states: "Through commissioned projects companies can use the facilities and expertise at the AMRC to try out new innovations or resolve production problems. They can undertake this research without having to change their day to day factory operations and therefore benefit from fewer risks and significantly lower costs."

Looking ahead, the report highlights the AMRC's Factory 2050, currently under construction on the Sheffield Business Park. The £43m development 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.

"Not content with addressing today's manufacturing challenges, the AMRC is building a new Factory of the Future, Factory 2050, which is designed to be the most advanced factory in the world," says the report.

"It will be possible to quickly and easily reconfigure the layout and the machinery to meet changing demand as the drive for customised products increases."

Professor Keith Ridgway CBE, executive dean at the AMRC, said: “We are proud to receive such a ringing endorsement from the UK's leading manufacturers' organisation.

"Terry Scuoler is right to say the UK cannot afford short term thinking and needs a visionary approach. Factory 2050 and the work the AMRC Training Centre is doing to bridge the engineering skills gap are a key part of that forward looking approach."

AMRC website
EEF website

Images: AMRC / Bond Bryan

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