William Cook, the UK’s largest steel casting group, has joined the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) as a partner.
With factories in Sheffield, Leeds and County Durham, William Cook can trace its history back over nearly 175 years.
The group manufactures sophisticated components, assemblies and systems for a wide range of applications, has substantial research, development and design resources, and includes global energy, transport and defence groups among its clients.
The business has also just won a major £30m contract with General Dynamics to supply parts for the Army’s future fleet of fighting vehicles.
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The decision to join the AMRC follows the University of Sheffield’s acquisition of Castings Technology International, which led last year to the creation of AMRC Castings – the expertise and technologies of which spans titanium and other reactive metals and alloys, as well as super-alloys, steel and other metals.
William Cook Group chairman, Andrew Cook CBE, great-great-grandson of the founder and architect of the successful consolidation of the UK steel castings industry in the 1980s and 90s, said that the group is keen to make use of the additional R&D facilities the AMRC provides.
He commented: “I was surprised and encouraged to see the level of practical help the AMRC can give companies that are keen to explore the possibilities of working with new materials, in new sectors and with new technologies.”
Prof Keith Ridgway CBE, executive dean of the AMRC, said: “In the recent past, William Cook has invested substantially in research and technology that has allowed it to move into more challenging, higher value markets.
“By mobilising AMRC Castings’ expertise, we hope to help the group build on that achievement by further increasing its competitiveness and expanding into even more technically advanced areas.”
William Cook supplies extreme specification, heavy duty safety critical components to the energy sector, including wellhead and down-hole equipment for the oil and gas industry, and nuclear reactor and steam turbine components.
It is also global leader in the design and manufacture of track and running gear for armoured vehicles and the main supplier of armoured vehicle track to the British Army; it also supplies cast armour and structural parts for military platforms and components for military aircraft and missiles.
The £30m contract with General Dynamics means Cook Defence Systems will supply the track system for AJAX, which is expected to be the most advanced armoured vehicle in the world when it comes into service in 2019.
The AJAX success is the second coup for Cook Defence Systems in recent months. In November 2015, Defence Secretary Michael Fallon visited the company to announce a £70m, four-year deal to support the Army’s existing armoured vehicles.