Sheffield centre set to transform manufacturing in the UK under £53million Government scheme
Experts at Sheffield University have been brought in to set up a new centre to help hi-tech factories adapt to changing market needs.
They will be involved in a £53 million programme to help manufacturers adopt the latest digital technology, with £5 million going towards setting up a new Research Centre for Connected Factories (RCCF) in Sheffield The university will also lead a new £5 million Materials Made Smarter Research Centre.
The RCCF will work to create a ‘Morphing Factory’ where production can be easily repurposed in response to changing market demand, for example, during the pandemic when drinks manufacturers have transformed their production lines to make hand sanitizer.
Minister for Investment Lord Grimstone said: “Sheffield is a city intimately associated with a strong manufacturing heritage and the highest standards of excellence, so we want to build on that legacy and help propel our manufacturers into the digital age.
“We’re proud to continue our strong relationship with the University of Sheffield, who will be one of the hosts for the new Research Centre for Connected Factories. Adopting digital technology is critical for manufacturers to unlock their full potential. Today’s investment shows we are doing everything we can to give businesses across the UK the tools they need to drive up productivity and build back better.”
The RCCF work will be done by the Department of Automatic Control and Systems Engineering (ACSE) and the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC).
Prof Ashutosh Tiwari, the lead from Sheffield on the project, said: “Our centre will contribute to building and maintaining a resilient and sustainable world leading manufacturing sector in the UK, that can respond to changing demand by continuously adapting, repurposing, relocating and reusing available manufacturing capabilities. We will deliver an integrated platform of fundamental and translational research with catapult centres and industry to achieve this ambition through smart digital manufacturing technologies.”
Nottingham and Cambridge universities will also be involved in the ‘Morphing Factories’ project.
The Materials Made Smarter Centre (MMSC) will be led by Professor Iain Todd from the University’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering.
The MMSC will work with centers including the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC), the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) and National Composites Centre (NCC), as well as The Materials Processing Institute and industrial partners including Rolls-Royce, Tata and Constellium.
Professor Todd said: “Our aim is to put the UK’s materials intensive processing industries at the forefront of the UK’s technological advancement and green recovery from the dual impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic and rapid environmental change.
“We will develop the advanced digital technologies and tools to enable the verification, validation, certification and traceability of materials manufacturing and will work with partners to address the challenges of digital adoption. Digitalisation of the materials thread will drive productivity improvements, realise new business models and change the way we value and use materials.”
Also in Sheffield, the “To Me, To You” project will receive funding through an £18 million digital supply chain competition. Led by Elements Technology Platforms, the “To Me, To You” project aims to improve communications across supply chains and improve productivity by introducing digital communications and phasing out traditional paperwork.