Monday, January 25, 2016

News: AMRC engineer on Indian visit

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A manufacturing engineer has represented the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) and the University of Sheffield during a week-long tour in India, hosted by UK Trade and Investment and the UK Science and Innovation Network.

Ben Kitcher has worked on one of the world's most advanced additive manufacturing programs; the development of the Rolls-Royce Trent XWB front bearing housing. He is now applying AMRC technologies to renewable energy equipment.

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.

Following Indian prime minister Narendra Modi's visit to the UK, where some £9 billion-worth of deals were announced, the India mission was aimed at increasing collaborative working with Indian organisations, and the delegation included colleagues from other UK-based research centres, companies and universities.

In October, delegates from UKTI and the Foreign & Commonwealth Office toured UK manufacturing research centres (including the AMRC) with representatives from some of India's largest manufacturers.

During his time in India, Kitcher visited Pune – one of the largest automotive manufacturing bases in India – and Bengaluru (Bangalore) – an emerging hub for aerospace manufacturing. He was invited to talk at two conferences promoting UK-India collaborations in the automotive and aerospace manufacturing industries.

Kitcher says companies should not fool themselves into thinking their Indian rivals were using old technology and relying on high levels of cheap labour.

"The Indians have a clear strategic intent to establish and grow their high value manufacturing industry," says Kitcher (pictured, second left).

"What I saw wasn't last generation technology and products made with a high labour content, but high tech, highly innovative and highly autonomous manufacturing. The Indians had a strong focus on technologies which will increase their capabilities, such as non-contact metrology, machine health monitoring and novel materials processing."

Kitcher was also impressed by what he describes as "an overwhelming wealth of talent" among India's one billion-plus population.

"India has a great resource of young, energetic, incentivised and well educated professionals," he says.

"The emergence of this talent is a product of a recent and ongoing initiative to offer more vocational education and training in technology based subjects such as IT, and very recently growing this to encompass subjects such as high value manufacturing."

AMRC website

Images: British High Commission in India/ twitter

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