Thursday, December 7, 2017

News: Nuclear AMRC tackling challenges of large-scale manufacturing

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The Nuclear AMRC has secured nearly £2.5m in Government funding to lead on two new research and development (R&D) projects to investigate two contrasting approaches to producing large-scale nuclear components.

With state of the art facilities on the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) in Rotherham, the £25m Nuclear AMRC is a joint initiative with industry, The University of Sheffield and The University of Manchester's Dalton Nuclear Institute, and is designed to help build and enhance the UK's civil nuclear new build industry.

The Inform project aims to improve the process of moving large parts between multiple machines, while the Simple project aims to do more operations on a single platform.

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Professor Steve Jones, chief technology officer of the Nuclear AMRC, said: "Simple and Inform are based on the two different philosophies of manufacturing large high-value components – taking the part to the machine, and taking the machine to the part. Both projects aim to provide significant improvements to UK productivity, potentially cutting manufacturing time and cost by half for a variety of large nuclear components.

"By developing innovative approaches to the fundamental challenges of manufacturing, these projects will help the UK’s nuclear supply chain to compete globally. These technologies could also provide major benefits to other high-value manufacturing sectors, such as offshore renewables or oil & gas."

The Inform project (intelligent fixtures for optimised and radical manufacture) will develop an adaptive fixturing system to ease the movement of large parts around a factory, and ensure precision throughout forging, machining, welding, inspection and assembly.

The Nuclear AMRC is leading the project, backed by around £1.1m project funding, with partners include fixturing specialist MetLase (the AMP-based joint venture between Rolls-Royce and the Unipart Group), Sheffield Forgemasters, Cambridge Vacuum Engineering, NPL and TWI (the organisation has a Technology Centre on the AMP).

Simple (single manufacturing platform environment), aims to integrate a range of manufacturing operations onto a single machining platform. Supported by £1.35m project funding, the Nuclear AMRC will lead a research consortium including two of its sister centres within the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, the Advanced Forming Research Centre and AMRC with Boeing, as well as the University of Sheffield physics department, TWI and Peak NDT.

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The Nuclear AMRC is also working the Nuclear Industry Association (NIA) to map future contract opportunities in the nuclear market, and help match manufacturers with relevant work packages.

The Nuclear AMRC has secured funding from Innovate UK, through the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, to create a robust model of future demand for UK nuclear manufacturing. The model will help manufacturers identify work packages which they can bid for, and allow R&D and support to be focused on areas of the greatest value to the UK supply chain.

Nuclear AMRC website

Images: Nuclear AMRC

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