Monday, June 7, 2021

News: Productive machines and digital twins


A high-tech Rotherham company that maximises the productivity of machine tools has taken part in an accelerator programme supported by the likes of Boeing, GKN Aerospace and Rolls-Royce.

Based within the Advanced Manufacturing Park's (AMP's) Technology Centre, Productive Machines uses a software simulation process called digital twinning to accelerate milling process design, reduce cycle time, eliminate quality problems and maximize productivity. Creating virtual replicas helps companies machine parts right the first time.

The spinout from the University of Sheffield joined the ATI Boeing Accelerator at the start of the year as one of ten startups in the second cohort that were selected from nearly 200 applications, from more than 40 countries.

The accelerator was created in partnership by the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) and Boeing and is delivered by European accelerator Ignite. GKN Aerospace is the programme’s corporate sponsor and Rolls-Royce recently joined as a programme partner. The three month programme is intended to support innovation and the growth of startups in the UK's aerospace ecosystem.

Dr Erdem Ozturk, CEO and founder of Productive Machines, said: "Productive Machines is solving three problems in the aerospace industry: productivity, sustainability, and the skills gap.

"Although we have demonstrated the impacts of using digital twins in several case studies, not all the companies in the industry are benefiting from these yet. It is common to use an experimental trial and error approach in machining process design. It results in productivity losses, errors lead to scrap parts and results in waste and, moreover, it is not an efficient use of resources.

"Sustainability is high on the agenda for aerospace companies. The waste due to scrap parts and inefficient use of resources are not the things that companies can afford moving ahead. Many companies do not have in-house expertise in machining process optimisation. Our software upskills our customers’ staff."

Erdem highlights the project carried out at the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) (where he used to work), which reduced the time it took Rolls-Royce to machine a new turbine disc by 50% but he grew frustrated that many other research projects in universities were resulting only in reports and publications and not being exploited to make an impact in the industry. He added: "I didn’t want to see this happen with the digital twins that we developed and I decided to build a startup to use the digital twins to serve the machining industry."

As well as access to top aerosapce companies, the accelerator offers a £100k equity investment. Productive Machines said that it was applying for more grants this year and is working with more companies - the process having already benefitted the likes of MASA Aerospace and Renault. A first investment round is also planned.

Productive Machines website

Images: Productive Machines


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