Through-life engineering services centre opens

Posted on 12 Jul 2011 by The Manufacturer

The first of nine new EPSRC centres for innovative manufacturing research became officially operational today

The engineering and physical sciences research centre (EPSRC) announced £45m funding in March this year for the establishment of a national network of 9 new research centres for the advance of manufacturing technologies, systems and business models.

Today the firsof these centres, the Centre for Through-life Engineering Services, was officially lainch at Cranfield University, the institution nominated to host the centre.

The new EPSRC centre will be run as a collborative enterprise by both Cranfield and Durham Universities.

Four key industrial partners will also support and advise on the direction of research at hte new centre. These partners are; BAE Systems, Bombardier, Rolls-Royce and the Ministry of Defence.

Professor Rajkumar Roy, head of Cranfield University’s Manufacturing Department, oversaw proceedings at the launch of the centre which was attended by industry representatives, prospective students and a diverse range of academics. Cranfield’s head of school for applied sciences, Tom Stephenson, also spoke at the event of his “pleasure and pride” in playing host to the centre.

Presentations made today clarified the importance of through-life engineering services to the future of competitive manufacturing in the UK as well as indicating the kinds of technologies and changes in mindset that will be required in order to excel in the implementation of this new approach to the business of manufacturing.

Initial presentations focused on international benchmarking for research into product service systems. These sessions showed how quickly the international industrial community is moving forward in this area. Sweden displayed particular strength and Professor Roy emphasised that the role of the new centre, located on the Cranfield University campus, is designed to ensure the UK does not fall behind in this important innovation stream.

Initial research projects at the Centre for Through-life Engineering Services has a funding commitment of five years and will focus on five major esearch remits:

•Cross sector challenges to establishing product service systems

•Reducing the occurrence of ‘no fault found’ scenarios

•Characterisation of in service component feedback

•Improvement of system design

•Self healing technologies for electronic and mechanical component systems.

These research areas have been chosen in collaboration with industry to answer current problems and foster long term capability.

The incidence of ‘no fault found’ or NFF, for example, is a well documented drain on industry resources. In the defence sector alone it is responsible for the unnecessary expense of £17.6 million per year.

Prospective PhD student Abdul-Hannam Ali told TM that he has high hopes for the potential of his research, already well advanced after a period with Imperial College London, to create a step change in defect realisation.

The projects investigating self-healing technologies will be at the leading edge of the research to take place at Cranfield. This study area will bring greater understanding of materials degredation and will leverage expertise in electronics from Durham University to create feasible robust mechatronics; a symbiosis of mechanical functionality and embedded technology which will lower maintenance costs and extend life-in-service in a quantifiable and measurable manner. Dr Alan Purvis of Durham University will be respinsible for leading this specialist research at the new EPSRC centre.

In line with launch of the Centre for Through-life Engineering Services Cranfield University has launched a new industry MSc in Through-life Engineering. This course will be directed by Dr Andrew Starr, interviewed in the August edition of The Manufacturer.