Aro Consulting


AIC group is putting the finishing touches to making 125 tonnes of equipment operational for the National Composites Centre (NCC) in Bristol. The project has taken around seven months.

The equipment included: a large autoclave weighing 90 tonnes – including 30,000 litre water cooling system; a Nitrogen Generating Plant (30t receiver); a small autoclave (17t); a Hot-press hydraulic (10t); a double diaphragm hot drape former (15t); and two curing ovens.

It was moved from Airbus’ facility in Filton, while at the same time ensuring the NCC had access to a production autoclave at all times. It took four months to re-install the large autoclave which operates at 400oC and a pressure of 200 psi (13.8 bar), the hot press, water cooling system and nitrogen pressurising plant, comprising a 30 tonne receiver, three compressors and a nitrogen generator.

The hot-drape former presented unique challenges removing it from its previous location not least because it uses 2,500 light bulbs as its curing heat source.
AIC’s project manager Adrian Kelley said: “This whole process has been an exciting adventure. I am particularly pleased, from a project management point of view, that we got it right – right quality at the right time at the right budget. We consistently hit deadlines and worked well in partnership with great teams at the NCC, Airbus and AET Transport.

“It is a privilege to work on such a prestigious project for a national organisation and a reference point for our industry that will make a real difference to the UK’s manufacturing capability.”

Rob Ludford, the NCC’s Operations Director, commented: “AIC recognised the key issue with this project. By working closely with NCC staff they were able to maintain capability and continuity of service to our customers by eliminating downtime across two sites.”

The water cooling system – previously used for cooling the large autoclave and comprising a 30,000 litre tank, a hot well and hundreds of metres of pipe work – now serves both autoclaves and a hydraulic hot press. This installation was further complicated by the need to locate a system previously housed internally to a location outside the building.

The last word should go to the NCC’s Chief Executive, Peter Chivers: ““Moving a 90 tonne autoclave and a manufacturing infrastructure is a complex and challenging task. AIC played a key role in ensuring the transfer went to plan, and are now helping with the installation of the equipment. Their engineers provided a professional and expert service, and this will enable the NCC to start to deliver a much needed capability.”

Contacts: Billy McKenna, Aro Consulting, 07930 189 404

Notes to editors
AIC Group
AIC Group comprises Autoclave & Industrial Controls (AIC), Rovic and Custom Coatings. The group provides worldwide support services to the advanced materials and process engineering industries. With over 40 years combined experience of design, manufacture and service of major plant and equipment it can offer unrivalled expertise
AIC provides ‘through life’ contract support to maintain equipment at its optimum. Its engineers operate 24/7 with guaranteed response times and telephone assistance. AIC has considerable experience of general process equipment and specialises in autoclave and composite related systems that use pressure, temperature and vacuum.

Key benefits of working with AIC:
• Unrivalled expertise provides ultra-fast fault diagnosis.
• Access to spares with many items on stock.
• All aspects covered, from light bulbs to pressure vessels.
• Specialist engineers for software, controls, mechanical, gas and service
• UKAS Accredited
• Calibrations are fully traceable to national standards – on-site calibration services.
• Parameters calibrated. AIC specialises in temperature, pressure, vacuum, humidity, electrical and other physical properties.
• For most autoclave and oven applications AIC carries out UKAS accredited thermal surveys to prove uniformity typically to:
o AMS2750D Aerospace Pyrometry
o BS2M54 Specification for temperature control
o Boeing D649327 Autoclave Certification
o BAe
o Eurocopter
• AIC engineers are trained to operate a variety of machines and understand the various processes, we can offer advice to reach or maintain the standards required.
The National Composites Centre
The NCC is the country’s leading organisation bridging the gap between academic research and manufacturing. It brings together dynamic companies and enterprising academics to develop new technologies for the design and rapid manufacture of high-quality composite products.
Though its building wasn’t completed until July 2011, the organisation has been operational since January, using its members’ facilities.