THE University of Huddersfield and Cranfield University have teamed up with top engineering companies and research institutes in a £1 million pound project aimed at improving efficiency for UK manufacturers.
The goal is to extend the principle of “servitisation” to firms that use Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machinery for precision-engineered products. This means that a manufacturer does not simply buy a machine tool which it then adapts, operates and maintains. Instead, it purchases the capacity to manufacture its products and the servitisation provider retains responsibility for the machinery and its smooth running.
This would give industry access to reliable advanced manufacturing equipment without the burden of maintaining it, particularly appealing to SMEs for whom advanced technology is often beyond their investment levels.
The new project is being funded by Innovate UK with companies Machine Tool Technologies (MTT) and Newburgh Precision joining forces with the University of the universities and the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre. Having launched in April, it is due to conclude in 2019. Innovate UK has awarded £783,511 to the project.
Over the next two years, the five partners will work towards a goal of providing a business model which servitises the use of CNC machinery and provides the technical and analytical tools to be able to do so. The project supports the basic manufacturing infrastructure and therefore is applicable to all sectors – aerospace, automotive, power generation, medical – where precision machining is required.
The team will also investigate how the model can be structured so that it can later be expanded to include other, emerging manufacturing processes such as 3D printing and nano-manufacturing, helping to drive the growth of UK manufacturing in the age of Industry 4.0.
The University’s Dr Andrew Longstaff is pictured with Machine Tool Technologies’s Director Peter Willoughby.