The roof and cladding of The University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre’s £43 million Factory 2050 is almost complete.
Mechanical and electrical services for the landmark, glass-walled reconfigurable, digital factory are now being installed, the entrance roadway is being laid and contractor Interserve Construction is on schedule to complete building work early in November.
Factory 2050 has been designed to help advanced manufacturers respond to increasing demand for high levels of flexibility and will be home to the AMRC’s Integrated Manufacturing Group (IMG).
IMG head Ben Morgan says plans are already being drawn up for the first Factory 2050 projects.
The new development’s facilities will be at the heart of a £1.6m research project that will develop advanced, flexible manufacturing systems which be used by construction and engineering group Laing O’Rourke in a new factory manufacturing modular systems for new homes and other buildings.
Factory 2050 will be home to a project to explore future digital factory technologies for one of the world’s largest independent producers of commercial aeroplane structures, Spirit AeroSystems.
A series of projects is in train to develop reconfigurable manufacturing systems into the future.
Factory 2050 is the first building on a new Advanced Manufacturing Campus, which could see the University build up to a million square feet of new research facilities on the site of the former Sheffield City Airport over the next seven to 10 years.
Once it is operational, it will employ around 70 people and directly contribute almost £2m to the local economy every year.
The glass walled factory is also intended to excite young people about the prospects of a career in 21st century engineering and will incorporate advanced ‘green’ energy technology, including a major ground-source heat pump package, which eliminates the need for a boiler or chiller plant.
AMRC Executive Dean, Professor Keith Ridgway CBE, said: “We want Factory 2050 to be the most advanced factory in the world and part of our long-term development of high value manufacturing – an area where this region has an international lead.
“The development will ensure that the UK’s advanced manufacturing supply chain can tap into the expertise it needs to make the most of increasing requirements to make rapid changes to product design, as a result of ever-changing customer demands.”
Factory 2050 is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund and the Higher Education Funding Council for England, each of which are contributing £10m to the project.