Mark Young blogs on the new MTC at Ansty Park Coventry, including video interview
Scroll down to the bottom of this article for a video interview with Dr Clive Hickman and Dr Ken Young of the Manufacturing Technology Centre
Yesterday I visited the new Manufacturing Technology Centre at Ansty Park in Coventry and was very impressed with what I found.
The Centre is going to form the link between academia and business by commercialising university research which finds ways to improve manufacturing processes and create new capabilities through highly advanced technologies.
It will house an arsenal of the most advanced manufacturing technology – including the world’s largest friction welder – and a team of the UK’s best engineers who will work with partner companies to find solutions to real problems and prove that new technology and processes can be successfully integrated onto real manufacturing lines. In this way, it ‘de-risks’ the research process for companies, as they cannot afford to stop their lines at their own sites to test theories themselves. Most of the time, universities take research as far as preliminary testing stages, prove that it works, and then leave it to rot in journals; they have neither the experience nor the inclination to implement fully functional manufacturing lines.
The Centre’s directors say the findings will create new unique capabilities which will help to propel the UK back to the forefront of global advanced manufacturing. And when the research yields results, the Centre will become, as a by-product, a fantastic fully working demonstration unit of the technology used for the companies that provide it.
Four universities will partner the Centre and a host of companies already have projects underway, including Rolls-Royce.
Building work on the 12,000 square metre Centre – which will be the biggest of its kind in the UK – is nearing completion and you can already see from walking around the site what a beacon for UK industry the site will become, on top of the important breakthroughs which will be discovered there. The site will be finished in April and will commence operations shortly after.
With an aesthetically pleasing design, featuring a glass front and a lake, the Centre will be visible from the M6 and this feeds in to another part of its key ambitions – to help change the perception of the manufacturing industry. It will also host conference and delegate groups, including school children, and its location means it will be accessible for 85 per cent off the UK’s population.
Artists impression of the Centre exterior
The building of the Centre has been funded by £40m worth of public funding, provided jointly by Advantage West Midlands and the East Midlands Development after years of lobbying for the money. As such it represents one of the biggest single public investments in manufacturing in recent years. As Regional Development Agencies, AWM and EMDA will be disbanded this year, with their remits taken over by the new Local Enterprise Partnerships. It is difficult to see two separate local authorities joining forces for a project of this scale in a similar fashion.
Video interview with the Centre’s CEO, Dr. Clive Hickman, former head of engineering at Tata motors; and Technology Director, Dr. Ken Young, former director of the Innovative Manufacturing Research Centre at Warwick University: