Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) Factory 2050 is set to open a new ‘reconfigurable factory’ research cell to help smaller businesses utilise its resources.
The factory designed to give smaller companies the opportunity to conduct research into machining and assembly technologies in a safe and cost-effective environment.
Factory 2050 is the AMRC’s latest development and was built for the Integrated Manufacturing Group (IMG) to conduct collaborative research with industrial and academic partners into reconfigurable robotic, digitally assisted assembly and part inspection technologies.
The research cell will be able to accommodate projects spanning the trialling of new robotic assembly techniques for mass customisation to small batch manufacturing techniques, small component assembly, and finish machining and polishing operations.
It is the result of a previous project conducted by IMG to produce a small scale, totally reconfigurable factory floor demonstrator, a project which is now being scaled-up for industrial use into a full-scale production cell with multiple tools, grippers and sensors.
The new research cell will be up and running towards the end of autumn in 2017 and IMG is encouraging any smaller manufacturing business who is interested working with them to get in contact.
Operations manager for IMG Chris Greaves said: “The cell will be able to be reconfigured to the specific requirements of an SME with a shorter lead time. This will allow easier, quicker and more affordable engagement for SMEs.
“Our aim is to create more effective engagement and greater open access for SMEs; businesses who may not have the resources to join the AMRC as a member, but still want to take advantage of our state of the art capabilities and world-class research to improve their processes and outputs.”
He added: “Projects don’t have to be long running or expensive to make big changes in short amounts of time. Even small projects requiring a short-lead time can be cost-effective and contribute to the improving productivity of a company.”
Head of IMG, Ben Morgan, said: “There is a common misconception that automation and robotics cause unemployment. What we are seeing in the market is that companies who are implementing automation are re-distributing jobs within their business and as productivity increases, so do profits and re-investment.
“More competitive manufacturing will mean more orders and ultimately more jobs for the region. It is imperative that the Sheffield City Region embraces automation in order that work is not lost to lower cost economies.”