EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Through-life Engineering Services

    Project: Project at former HEI

    Project Details


    Funder: Engineering and Physical Research Council
    Value: £5,834,394

    The EPSRC Centre in Coupled Whole Systems is a National Centre, hosted by Cranfield and Durham Universities. Successful high technology UK manufacturing companies are offering a range of interlinked high-value products and services. High-value products are typically technology-intensive, expensive and reliability critical requiring engineering services (e.g. maintenance, repair and overhaul) throughout the life cycle e.g. aircraft engine, high-end cars, railway vehicle, wind turbines and defence equipment. Competitiveness is then dependent on many factors, such as design innovation for the product and added value through the services and minimisation of whole life cost. These products typically combine five major domains (structural, mechanical, electrical, electronic and software sub-systems) to achieve the required functionality and performance. These products are referred to as Coupled Whole Systems. The overall vision of the proposed EPSRC Centre is to develop knowledge, technology and process demonstrators, novel methodologies, techniques and the associated toolsets to provide the capability for the concept design of the coupled whole system based on system design for engineering services.After discussions with the industrial partners, KTNs and all the academics involved in the Centre, it has been decided that the Centre will start with a set of five projects. The projects are of three types, the first one identifies current challenges in the systems design across multiple sectors, the second set of three projects is in TRL levels 2-3 and addresses three major industrial challenges for engineering services across the sectors. This research will develop technology and process demonstrators, design rules and standards to evaluate the system design in order to reduce the engineering services cost later in the life cycle. The third type is more long term and represents TRL levels 1-2. This project will develop technologies that could reduce the need for maintenance and therefore reduce the whole life cost of a high-value product. The five initial projects are as follows: Project 1: Study of cross-sector challenges in coupled whole systems design (6 mths)Project 2: Reduction of no-fault found (NFF) through system design (3 yrs)Project 3: Characterisation of in-service component feedback for system design (3 yrs)Project 4: Improvement of System Design Process for whole life cost reduction (2 yrs)Project 5: Self-healing technologies for electronic and mechanical components and subsystems (3 yrs)All the initial projects and future ones will use the facilities of a Whole Systems Studio at Cranfield. The Studio will provide instrumentation and facilities to perform experiments in support of the initial and future research projects and develop technology and process demonstrators. The Studio will have a networked computing facility with a data highway based on the OSys integration platform. The platform will initially allow other facilities such as the 3D scanning facility from GOM, Electronics Lab from Durham, IVHM Centre at Cranfield and MRO Shop at Rolls Royce, Derby to be connected with the Studio. In future, other research groups and laboratories will be given access to the Studio as well. The core partners of the Centre are Rolls-Royce, BAE Systems, Bombardier Transport, ARM and the Ministry of Defence (MoD). The partners represent the aerospace, defence, railways and electronics sectors. There are 13 other industrial partners representing user companies from defence, information technology (IT), machine tool, and energy sectors and knowledge transfer networks (aerospace, energy and electronics), software vendor, media partner and trade organisations as dissemination partner to support the growth of the Centre.

    Key findings

    The Centre will support existing high value manufacturing companies through technologies and process for improved 'design for engineering services'. The Centre will help aerospace, defence, railways, electronics, energy, high-end automotive and health care equipment manufacturers within the five years. The Centre will also help development of a new UK manufacturing sector in 'engineering services' area. The research and associated activities will help UK to achieve a leading position in the 'engineering services' research internationally. The Centre will also impact the core and industrial partners by improving the system design and engineering services community within the organisations. The UK needs to support its manufacturing sector to grow and secure larger market share in an increasingly challenging global market. Whole system product design and manufacturing with through-life support is a growing business for the UK aerospace, energy, railways, high-end automotive and defence companies. For example, Rolls-Royce has signed a 690 million contract with the UK MoD to support the UK Tornado fleet; they also earn around 60% of their revenue from the engine support team. Energy sector companies for wind and nuclear energies are investing over 30 billion in new build, and that would require engineering services for decades to come. Through life support contracts will require improved service performance in order to reduce the whole life cost. The MoD is looking to share risks more with industry using availability type contracts. A NATO report has suggested a potential whole life cost savings up to 1.4 billion by involving BAE Systems in the maintenance-repair-overhaul (MRO) activities for fast jets. The UK already has 17% of the Global MRO market. The Global market in the aviation industry alone is expected to be around $55 billion by 2014. Similarly, the automotive sector is growing its self-service pay-as-you-go car service where an hourly charge includes fuel cost for the car. This means the support for the car to minimise the fuel consumption is part of the service provider's responsibilities. The business needs to design the whole systems more efficiently and reduce the whole life cost to secure a bigger market share in through-life support global market for the high value products. Support for the business along with the relevant academic excellence has to be established in the UK to sustain growth. The Centre is very timely and relevant to support the growth in the support contracts by improving the product design and by reducing the whole life cost. This will improve competitiveness of UK manufacturing sector. The impact will also be achieved by embedding the research outcomes within the industry sectors. The core partners from the aerospace, defence, railways and electronics sectors will benefit first and then the other 13 industry partners. Three new sectors will be introduced within the Centre, one is energy, one in high-end automotive and the other is health care equipment manufacturing. The Centre will have significant impact on these sectors as well.
    Effective start/end date1/07/1131/07/16


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