Daily Manufacturing News Digest – the industry stories you should be aware of today

Posted on 25 Oct 2023 by Joe Bush

Each day The Manufacturer compiles the top manufacturing news stories from around the web. To make your life a little easier, we trawl through all the major trade publications, broadsheets and business magazines to find you the most important manufacturing news each morning. Don't forget to bookmark this page and check back daily.

In-Comm Training awarded £429,000 funding boost to increase advanced manufacturing skills

In-Comm Training, one of the UK’s leading independent training providers has secured a £429,000 boost for delivering manufacturing skills.

In-Comm Training, which already supports 865 apprentices and over 2500 learners, has been awarded ‘Higher Level Skills’ funding by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) in a bid to help industry bridge the skills and competency gaps.

Accessed via the Training & Manufacturing Group (TMG), up to 126 learners in the WMCA area will be able to tap into modularised units for the first time, giving existing workers the most flexible opportunity yet to upskill. Find out more at The Manufacturer

Birmingham precious metal experts to work together in Prosperity Partnership

University of Birmingham researchers and Cooksongold Additive Manufacturing have received EPSRC Early-stage Prosperity Partnership funding for a project that will develop precious metal alloys for 3D printing.

The project will see university metallurgists Dr Biao Cai, Professor Moataz Attallah from the School of Metallurgy and Materials, and healthcare technologies expert Dr Sophie Cox from the School of Chemical Engineering collaborate with technical specialists from Cooksongold.

Founded in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter over 100 years ago, Cooksongold is now the UK’s largest one-stop shop for the jewellery trade, and Cooksongold Additive Manufacturing supplies products and services based on 3D printing of precious metals. Find out more at University of Birmingham

ABB Robotics and Porsche Consulting collaborate to automate the construction industry

ABB Robotics and Porsche Consulting have announced their collaboration to drive automation in the construction industry with a pilot project to develop innovative new practices in modular housing manufacture.

The collaboration will help to meet the need for more affordable and sustainable buildings and reduce the environmental impact of construction, amidst widespread labor and skills shortages.

“The construction industry is facing numerous challenges. Highly automated factories for buildings can deliver higher quality and more affordable housing. In combining ABB’s leading robotic solutions and Porsche Consulting’s knowledge in planning and running state-of-the-art factories, we want to help transform this important industry” said Eberhard Weiblen, Chairman of the Executive Board, Porsche Consulting. Find out more at The Manufacturer

Labour pledges support for UK steel industry as storm clouds brew at British Steel

Labour leader Keir Starmer has offered support to the British steel industry during a trip to South Wales on 23 October, just as many UK plants are facing financial difficulties and tasked with decarbonising their production.

As reported by the Independent, during his visit to Tata Steel’s Port Talbot plant, Starmer promised that under a Labour government the UK steel industry will be “backed, not abandoned”.

Ahead of the visit, a Labour spokesperson said that the UK had the potential to be a “world leader in clean steel” and that Labour would facilitate this while “safeguarding jobs”.

They added: “Our long-term plan for steel will see a ten year commitment to invest in the new green technologies we need to keep UK steel competitive, ensure jobs stay in the UK and reduce our carbon emissions.”

The need to pursue green technologies is seen as especially pressing, given that steel is a carbon-intensive industry, with production of iron and steel estimated to contribute 14% of industrial emissions and 2% of total UK emissions. Find out more at IOE&IT

Edinburgh University expands incubator programme for robotics entrepreneurs

Match-funding from Barclays Eagle Labs’ ecosystem partnership programme, funded by the UK government, means that the university’s Venture Builder Incubator (VBI) can increase its support to postgraduate students, early-career researchers, academic staff and recent alumni based anywhere in Scotland and specialising in robotics, hardware and autonomous systems.

The university said 26 start-ups and early-stage businesses would have the opportunity to receive a share of £100,000 and mentoring from “industry-leading experts”, as well as partake in interactive workshops, networking events and gain access to the Bayes Centre’s facilities in central Edinburgh. Now in its fourth iteration, VBI is for the first time working with the centre for robotics and artificial intelligence, the National Robotarium, a data-driven innovation hub based at Heriot-Watt University. Find out more at The Scotsman

World’s largest quadcopter drone takes off at University of Manchester

The drone, made from a cardboard-like material called foamboard, measures 6.4m corner-to-corner and weighs 24.5kg, just below the 25kg weight limit that requires further authorisation to fly from the Civil Aviation Authority.

The Giant Foamboard Quadcopter (GFQ), as the drone is known, has four arms that are formed of a series of hollow box structures, which can be removed for transportation. The project aimed to use an alternative low-cost material for lightweight aerospace structures that is more environmentally friendly than conventional carbon fibre.

Dan Koning, a Manchester research engineer who led the design and build of the vehicle, said: “Foamboard is an interesting material to work with. Used in the right way we can create complex aerospace structures where every component is designed to be only as strong as it needs to be – there is no room for over-engineering here.” Find out more at IMeche

UK manufacturing orders suffer worst monthly fall since January 2021

UK manufacturers saw the worst monthly fall in orders in October since January 2021, according to a survey released earlier by the Confederation of British Industry.

The CBI’s monthly industrial orders balance declined to -26 from -18 in September, missing expectations for an improvement to -16. The survey also showed that manufacturers cut employees “marginally” in the three months to October, and for the first time since January 2021.

CBI deputy chief economist Anna Leach said: “The warning lights are flashing red in our latest manufacturing survey, with business sentiment deteriorating, output volumes falling and manufacturers becoming more cautious over their employment and investment plans.

“Amidst a difficult environment for manufacturers, the Chancellor should use the Autumn Statement to build confidence and get the sector firing again, through a focus on skills development, encouraging business investment and grasping substantive net zero opportunities.” Find out more at ShareCast

National Physical Laboratory (NPL) secures a place on the DSIT’s new ChipStart UK programme

A pioneering new semiconductor technology developed by scientists at the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) has been selected as one of the first twelve UK semiconductor innovations to receive support from ChipStart UK, a new incubator programme set up by Silicon Catalyst.UK and funded by the UK Government’s Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT).

NPL’s HIDRA Vision is a new patent-pending semiconductor wafer imaging technique that tackles yield limitation in compound semiconductor manufacturing. This ground-breaking wafer imaging technology captures high-resolution images, with approximately two million points on the wafer, in a few minutes rather than hours or even days with traditional systems. Find out more at The Manufacturer

Clean fuel pioneers join forces in bid to make 150-strong hydrogen bus fleet a reality

Luxfer Gas Cylinders is collaborating with Ricardo on zero-emissions double deckers, trialled in Brighton following Teesside tests.

Joining forces for the first time, world-leading gas cylinder manufacturer Luxfer supplied its alternative fuel expertise to Ricardo, supplying a fit-for-purpose hydrogen storage solution for a Stagecoach North East prototype double decker bus.

The vehicle, which was converted from a diesel engine to run on hydrogen fuel cell technology, underwent trials in Teesside for six weeks, before being put through its paces on hilly routes around Brighton and Hove. Find out more at The Manufacturer