The rise of the virtual factory

Costly product flow reconfigurations 0; Virtual factories 1. Manufacturing process simulation is saving companies thousands of pounds. And software vendors are integrating CAD to product simulation, to test multiple physical stress scenarios, reducing costly prototype tests. Malcolm Wheatley reports on a convincing scoreline.

The story of the steel wheel

One hundred years ago, GKN Wheels — known then as Joseph Sankey & Sons Ltd or ‘Sankeys’ — patented and produced the first pressed steel wheel. Originally manufactured for use in motor cars, this was a significant engineering breakthrough, made possible by technological advances in the production of high quality steel alloys and rolling systems.

It’s time to share

The modern factory engineer is as likely to be devising a value stream map, or filming a production process to be intranet-cast to a Chinese sister factory, as he is operating a machine tool. Steve Burgess, continuous improvement project engineer at GKN Wheels, says knowledge-sharing between sites is crucial.

Power is money

After 15 years in limbo, new civil nuclear power is firmly back in the limelight. With foreign companies charged with the construction of new plants, the question is what opportunities are available for home grown manufacturers in the nuclear supply chain? Tim Brown reports.

Eco-conscious employees

How can companies engage most effectively with employees to make them more environmentally responsible? Reinforcement and reward is part of the solution, says Rachel Mountain at EcoSecurities.

Ready to use additive manufacturing

Ready-to-use Additive Manufacturing (RUAM) is a new technology developed by Cranfield University, which aims to improve industry’s ability to manufacture high precision ready-to-use functional parts for a range of applications from small turbine blades to large aerospace structures. Cranfield’s Dr Jörn Mehnen explains.

Freight efficient

A bicycle can be up to five times more efficient than walking, produces no emissions and, according to San Francisco’s Exploratorium, 100 calories can power a cyclist for three miles but would only move a car about 85 metres. Tim Brown examines energy efficient options for shifting goods.