Tuesday, February 11, 2014

News: AMRC submit plans for Factory 2050


The University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) with Boeing is expanding over the Parkway and over the border into Sheffield with plans for the world's most flexible factory and the "AMRC Business Park" on the site of the Sheffield City Airport.

The AMRC 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.

Integrating research and industry collaboration, the government confirmed £10m funding from Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) last year with the remainder of the £43m total cost coming from industry. Manufacturers including Boeing, Airbus, Rolls-Royce, BAE Systems and Spirit AeroSystems are committed to supporting the project.

Concept designs, drawn up by architects, Bond Bryan, showed the facility on land at the Advanced Manufacturing Park in Rotherham but now a planning application has been submitted for land at Peel's Sheffield Business Park site, behind the Sheffield Business Centre and on the airport runway.

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.

The main building is a four storey, "partially subterranean glazed rotunda" that would enable the outside world to see the ground breaking research taking place inside the open plan workshops. The proposals have developed from the circular hub building to include a further element for constructive and destructive work on product development, particularly large scale items such as turbine blades and aeroplane wings. The two buildings will create 6,730 sq m of floor space.

The plans, put together by DLP Planning Consultants, state that: "AMRC Factory 2050 will be a reconfigurable factory demonstrator project, developing the technologies today's companies need to adopt in order to remain competitive. 2050 refers to the year when it is predicted that manufacturing companies will need be able to switch production between bespoke products at the touch of a button in order to compete in an increasingly automated environment."
Studies submitted with the application indicates that the construction of Factory 2050 will directly contribute £6.4m in GVA and create 162 jobs and when fully operational, it is set to employ up to 60 people, making an annual contribution to GDP of £1.9m.

The AMRC needs access to 50 acres of land as expansion continues. The plans explain the decision not to build the Factory on the AMP which already houses a number of AMRC buildings alongside manufacturing firms employing over 700 people: "Land availability for advanced manufacturing companies will undoubtedly become a limiting factor on the AMP in the very near future, particularly for any large developments where the close proximity to the residential area currently under development will be a limiting factor. Steps need to be taken now if the Sheffield city region is to continue to attract inward investors and develop new high value manufacturing companies.

"Sheffield Business Park is seen as a prime location to build on the AMRC's success which has been so important to the development of the AMP. The AMRC is continuing to grow and assist UK companies, but the AMP can no longer accommodate its long term objectives.

"Central to the AMRC's mission is the prime objective of restoring the ability of South Yorkshire manufacturing companies to compete in a global marketplace. Though considerable progress has been made in that direction over the last 11 years, the time is right if the city region is to maintain its reputation as the place to do business, for the major new initiative on the Sheffield Business Park."

The AMRC Factory 2050 is expected to be completed in 2015 and it is anticipated that the site will then be developed out for other AMRC research centre activities, fostering further economic growth and attracted more manufacturing firms and inward investment.

AMRC website

Images: AMRC / Bond Bryan


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