Issue: Mar 2019


The future is electric: new hub launched to increase electrification in UK manufacturing



by James Hilton

A new Hub, led by the University of Sheffield, is combining expertise in electrical machines and manufacturing for the first time, aiming to put the UK at the forefront of an electrification revolution.

 

We are witnessing a huge global shift towards cleaner growth and more resource efficient economies with electrical machines at the heart of the move towards electric cars, planes and the use of renewable energy such as offshore wind. However, there are significant manufacturing challenges, particularly around new materials and the application of digital approaches.

 

The £28m investment, underpinned by a £10m award from the EPSRC, will enable researchers from the new EPSRC Future Electrical Machines Manufacturing Hub to work with industry on addressing key manufacturing challenges, designing new electrical machines with improved performance for the aerospace, energy, automotive and premium consumer sectors.

 

The drive to lower carbon emissions is resulting in dramatic changes in how we travel and the ways we generate and use energy worldwide. New electrical machines with improved performance - higher power density, increased efficiency and improved reliability - are being designed by researchers and industry to address the need for clean growth and the challenging demands of new applications.

 

However, there are significant manufacturing challenges to overcome if UK industry wants the ability to manufacture these new machines at an appropriate cost and with the right levels of flexibility and quality.

 

With funding from the EPSRC and industrial partners including Rolls Royce, Airbus, Siemens Gamesa, GKN Aerospace, McLaren and Dyson, the team, led by the University of Sheffield’s Faculty of Engineering and Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC), will work with academics at Newcastle University and the Advanced Forming Research Centre in Strathclyde to solve these issues.

 

Industry Minister Richard Harrington said: “This investment brings together world-class researchers and leading manufacturing firms to help revolutionise how key industries like steel operate in the future.

 

“These developments will help us build a smarter, greener and more efficient manufacturing sector in the UK which is a key part of our modern Industrial Strategy to harness the opportunities of clean growth creating more high-skilled jobs.

 

“We are determined to ensure the UK sets the global best standard for making our energy intensive industries competitive in the new clean economy.”

 

Professor Mike Hounslow, Vice-President and Head of the Faculty of Engineering, said: “The University has world-leading research capability in electrical machines and in manufacturing.

 

“The significance of this new initiative is that we can bring these together with contributions from partners, not simply to understand and design machines but to ensure they can be manufactured reliably, and economically, in the UK.”

 

Professor Keith Ridgway, founder and Executive Dean of the AMRC, said: “The Hub will play a crucial role in addressing key challenges around the manufacture of electrical machines and we’re delighted to be part of a strong, collaborative team whose combined talents and capabilities are at the very cutting edge of advanced technologies and digital manufacturing research.

 

“Electric machine design, performance and manufacture is an exciting area to work in and one which requires the strength of each of the partners if UK industry is to overcome these challenges and deliver on increasing electrification in UK manufacturing.”

 

Professor Geraint Jewell, Director of the EPSRC Future Electrical Machines Manufacturing Hub, said: “'The rapid move towards the electrification of transport and the surge in renewable energy generation is making this an exciting time for the manufacture of electrical machines in the UK. This is the first activity to combine electrical machines expertise with a broad range of manufacturing research expertise in a long-term programme of research at scale.”

 

Professor Ashutosh Tiwari, Airbus/RAEng Research Chair in Digitisation for Manufacturing at the University of Sheffield, said: "At Sheffield, the Hub offers exciting opportunities for three-way research collaborations between the Electrical Machines and Drives Research Group in the Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering, the digital manufacturing researchers in the Department of Automatic Control and Systems Engineering, and Factory 2050 at the AMRC. The resulting digital manufacturing research will unlock design freedoms enabled by innovations in manufacturing technologies.”

 

The Hub will play its role in addressing the skills shortage in electrical machine design and their manufacture, with some 30 allied PhDs projects sponsored by a combination of the host universities and industrial partners dovetailing with the Hub’s seven-year research programme.

 

Notes to readers:

 

The University of Sheffield

 

With almost 29,000 of the brightest students from over 140 countries, learning alongside over 1,200 of the best academics from across the globe, the University of Sheffield is one of the world’s leading universities.

 

A member of the UK’s prestigious Russell Group of leading research-led institutions, Sheffield offers world-class teaching and research excellence across a wide range of disciplines.

 

Unified by the power of discovery and understanding, staff and students at the university are committed to finding new ways to transform the world we live in.

 

Sheffield is the only university to feature in The Sunday Times 100 Best Not-For-Profit Organisations to Work For 2018 and for the last eight years has been ranked in the top five UK universities for Student Satisfaction by Times Higher Education.

 

Sheffield has six Nobel Prize winners among former staff and students and its alumni go on to hold positions of great responsibility and influence all over the world, making significant contributions in their chosen fields.

 

Global research partners and clients include Boeing, Rolls-Royce, Unilever, AstraZeneca, Glaxo SmithKline, Siemens and Airbus, as well as many UK and overseas government agencies and charitable foundations.

 

To read other news releases about the University of Sheffield, visit http://www.shef.ac.uk/news

 

The University of Sheffield’s AMRC

 

The University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) is a world-class centre for research into advanced manufacturing technologies used in the aerospace, automotive, medical and other high-value manufacturing sectors.

 

The AMRC has a global reputation for helping companies overcome manufacturing problems and is a model for collaborative research involving universities, academics and industry worldwide.

 

Combining state of the art technologies with the AMRC’s expertise in design and prototyping, machining, casting, welding, additive manufacturing, composites and structural testing, has created a manufacturing resource far beyond anything previously available in the UK.

 

The AMRC Factory 2050 is the UK’s first fully reconfigurable assembly and component manufacturing facility for collaborative research, capable of rapidly switching production between different high-value components and one-off parts.

 

www.amrc.co.uk

 

The AMRC is a member of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, a consortium of leading manufacturing and process research centres, backed by the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK.

 

EPSRC

 

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) is part of UK Research and Innovation, a non-departmental public body funded by a grant-in-aid from the UK government. For more information visit https://epsrc.ukri.org

 

EPSRC is the main funding body for engineering and physical sciences research in the UK. By investing in research and postgraduate training, we are building the knowledge and skills base needed to address the scientific and technological challenges facing the nation.

 

Our portfolio covers a vast range of fields from healthcare technologies to structural engineering, manufacturing to mathematics, advanced materials to chemistry. The research we fund has impact across all sectors. It provides a platform for future UK prosperity by contributing to a healthy, connected, resilient, productive nation.

 



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