Monday, February 16, 2015

News: Official launch for The Proving Factory


Business Secretary, Vince Cable MP has performed the formal opening of The Proving Factory, an innovative partnership between Tata Steel and high-tech companies in the automotive supply chain.

The £22m manufacturing initiative will take low-carbon vehicle technologies designed by small high-tech British companies and university research departments and prove their viability in production to increase their chances of being adopted by major motor manufacturers. It is jointly located in Rotherham and in Coventry, where the assembly facility was officially opened for business last week.

Tata Steel is the key partner in establishing The Proving Factory alongside industry experts, Productiv Limited, and as part of the programme, which is backed by Government funding, a component manufacturing facility is being created at Tata Steel's site at Brinsworth. The Proving Factory is currently using 1,000 sq m of leased space at Newburgh Precision at Templeborough on an interim basis for its component manufacturing operation, while the facilities are completed nearby.

The Proving Factory initiative was launched by Dr Cable exactly two years ago, in February 2013, after receiving funding from the Advanced Manufacturing Supply Chain Initiative (AMSCI). It now has a 6,000 sq m site in Coventry where the engineering and systems assembly operations are located, and the 1,000 sq m component manufacturing facility in Rotherham, housing state-of-the-art machine tools. More than fifty people have been recruited so far, with this number set to increase to 250 over the next four years.

Technology is being developed by the likes of Bladon Jets, Flybrid, Torotrak, Drive Systems Design, Libralato and Magnomatics and the project aims to bridge the gap (or "Valley of Death") between small enterprises developing leading edge low carbon technology and large vehicle manufacturers.

"Proving volumes" of 10,000-20,000 units a year will be produced and support will be given in moving to higher volumes through the traditional first-tier supply chain. Nine technologies have now gone through the development stages, with two due to start production this quarter. The range of products being handled by The Proving Factory reflects the fact that there isn't just one solution to the challenge of developing new low-carbon powertrain technologies, rather a whole suite of options are needed to address different duty cycles and applications.

Business Secretary Vince Cable (pictured, left), said: "When I visited this site two years ago I was standing in an empty shed, talking about a great idea. Now with £13 million support from government that idea has been transformed into state-of-the-art machines, new jobs and a host of technologies that will help produce the next generation of low carbon vehicles.

"The government's industrial strategy is backing the automotive sector as it goes from strength to strength, giving business the confidence to invest over the long term and helping to develop cutting-edge technology that will create high-skilled jobs."

Richard Bruges, chief executive of Productiv (pictured, right), added: "The whole team, from our engineers to our technology developers, has worked tirelessly over the last two years to make The Proving Factory vision a reality. I would like to thank everyone involved for their hard work and thank the Minister and the Department for Business for their support so far.

"With tight emissions regulations levied on both the UK and the EU, vehicle manufacturers are under increasing pressure to make their products cleaner and more eco efficient than ever before. But we know that there is no one solution to this challenge. We have a team of experts in place who can make an informed decision on which technologies might form a part of a greener automotive industry and the facilities and skills to turn them into products."

Henrik Adam, chief operating officer at Tata Steel, added: "The Proving Factory, as well as supporting the development of new technologies for the automotive industry, is setting a bench mark for more efficient production processes as well as leading to the design of novel materials.

"As an organisation we pride ourselves on working closely with the automotive industry and its associated supply chain, both in the UK and further afield, to provide the support and services they need to create the vehicles the consumer wants. The Proving Factory is a brilliant example of this response to market needs and we are proud to be a part of it."

Images: The Proving Factory


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