UK’s University of Huddersfield is to lead a new £30 ($37.5) million research centre to help transform manufacturing.
The Future Metrology Hub will be based in the University’s Centre for Precision Technologies, home to a team of world-renowned researchers in precision engineering and metrology.
Researchers at the universities of Sheffield, Loughborough and Bath will provide complementary expertise and support, as will the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) from its bases at Teddington and Huddersfield. Building upon these groups’ existing track-record and achievements, the Hub will address major, long-term challenges facing UK manufacturing industries.
A large team of industrial partners – including famous companies from a wide variety of industrial sectors – will also provide funding and support to the Hub. More than £30 million has so far been pledged across the consortium, and new partners will be sought as the research progresses.
As part of the Government’s commitment to supporting world-leading manufacturing research in the UK, the Huddersfield research centre will receive a major investment of £10 million from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and be one of six new Future Manufacturing Research Hubs.
The Huddersfield-led Hub will be headed by Professor Jane Jiang, whose distinctions include the award earlier this year of the Renishaw/Royal Academy Chair in Precision Metrology.
“Our vision is to develop new technologies and universal methods that will integrate measurement science with design and production processes to improve control, quality and productivity. These will become part of the critical infrastructure for a new generation of digital, high value manufacturing, the so called 4th industrial revolution, or Industry 4.0.” said Professor Jiang.
The term ‘Industry 4.0’ has been coined to describe the digitisation and automation of manufacturing, using the power of modern computers and technology such as networks of sensors and the massive amounts of data they can collect. These technologies are acknowledged by government as being critical to the future success and economic prosperity of manufacturing in the UK, in the face of low-cost overseas competition.
“We’ve built a really strong consortium of researchers, technology developers, service providers and manufacturing end-users to deliver our Hub vision.” said Simon McKenna, who is the Hub’s Director of Operations. “Having this extended team in place will ensure outputs from the research programme are fully exploited to deliver real and lasting impact for the UK economy.”
The Hub, which will come into existence in early 2017, builds directly upon the existing EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Advanced Metrology, also hosted at Huddersfield. This Centre has developed award-winning new technologies over the past five years for in-process measurement and control. The Future Metrology Hub will enable this existing research to be taken to the next level to support a UK manufacturing transformation.