Developing the skills for growth

Friday 14 September 2012, 9am-1pm
AMRC Knowledge Transfer Centre

A launch event for two new facilities dedicated to closing the skills gap for manufacturing businesses:

  • National Skills Academy Nuclear Manufacturing – a one-stop-shop for manufacturers seeking to enter or grow market share in the nuclear sector. Supported by EDF, Areva, Westinghouse and Rolls Royce, the Skills Academy will tackle the most pressing skills needs in the nuclear supply chain.
  • AMRC Training Centre – providing the practical and theoretical skills that manufacturing companies need to compete globally. From 2013, the AMRC Training Centre will offer advanced engineering apprenticeship training for 250 people a year, plus higher skills and CPD.

Both of these facilities are based at the Advanced Manufacturing Park in South Yorkshire.

Keynote presentations will include:

  • Ministerial address
  • Manufacturing for nuclear: business opportunities and challenges
  • Strategies to deliver added value for your company in nuclear
  • Regional manufacturing skills strategy and funded initiatives for employers
  • The next generation of manufacturing apprenticeships

To book a place, go to:

Opportunities in fusion and ITER

Thursday 11th October 2012, Culham Science Centre.

The United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority and the Nuclear Institute present exclusive insight into the manufacturing and business opportunities of the International Tokamak Experimental Reactor (ITER).

ITER is an innovative nuclear fusion test reactor, to be constructed at Cadarache, France, over 10 years at a cost of over Euro12 billion. The day will introduce the procurement opportunities of the programme, including the opportunity for one-to-one meetings with key commercial managers. Attendees can also see current fusion projects including JET (Joint European Torus, the world’s largest fusion reactor) and MAST (Mega Amp Spherical Tokamak, the UK’s own experimental fusion reactor).

For more information, see:

Royal opening for research factory

The Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (Nuclear AMRC) was officially opened today (28 May) by The Duke of York.

His Royal Highness met with Nuclear AMRC staff and apprentices, and representatives from a wide range of manufacturing businesses, to find out how the Nuclear AMRC is helping them become more competitive. His Royal Highness has a continued interest in supporting facilities such as this that are a key part of ensuring that British businesses are at the forefront of science and engineering globally.

Professor Keith Ridgway CBE, programme director of the Nuclear AMRC, says:
“We are delighted that The Duke of York has agreed to open the Nuclear AMRC. The new centre has a huge role to  play in assisting UK manufacturers to enter the nuclear new build market, both at home and globally. The support we provide will have a huge impact on the number and value of contracts that UK manufacturers can win.”

Managed by the University of Sheffield with support from The University of Manchester Dalton Nuclear Institute, the Nuclear AMRC combines academic innovation with industry expertise to help UK manufacturers seize the opportunities of new investment in nuclear power and other innovative energy technologies.

The Nuclear AMRC’s research and operations are led by its industrial members – 34 companies are currently full members, from reactor providers Areva and Westinghouse, and top-tier suppliers such as Rolls-Royce, Tata Steel and Sheffield Forgemasters, through to specialised SMEs.

The Nuclear AMRC’s main facility is located on the Advanced Manufacturing Park, on the boundary of Sheffield and Rotherham, next to the established University of Sheffield AMRC with Boeing.

Construction of the 8000 sq m centre was begun in November 2010, with Her Majesty the Queen donning virtual reality glasses to remotely activate a digger. The building was completed on schedule by October 2011, with the construction project managed by Turner & Townsend. It is now home to a growing team of engineers and researchers.

The Nuclear AMRC is based around an open-plan 5,000 sq m workshop, containing a range of state-of-the-art manufacturing equipment tailored for nuclear industry applications. The building also features accommodation over three stories, including laboratory and technical support space, an immersive virtual reality room for assembly research and training, office space and secure meeting rooms. Work at the Nuclear AMRC focuses on metals engineering and does not involve nuclear critical aspects such as fuels or other radioactive materials.

The building was designed by Bond Bryan Architects to ‘Excellent’ BREEAM environmental standards. Power and heating is provided by a 99m wind turbine rated at 900kW and ground source heat pumps with 320kW capacity.

The development of the Nuclear AMRC has been funded by UK Government and the European Regional Development Fund. The Nuclear AMRC is part of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, a new national network of research centres supported by the Technology Strategy Board.

Following the opening of the Nuclear AMRC building, The Duke of York visited the University of Sheffield’s new Diamond Jubilee Knowledge Transfer Centre to meet local companies which have been in business for 60 years, as part of the Jubilee celebrations.

All-Energy 2012

23-24 May, Aberdeen.

The Nuclear AMRC is attending the All-Energy renewables exhibition and conference in Aberdeen.

All-Energy is the UK’s largest renewable energy event, showcasing the complete range of renewable and sustainable technologies.

Professor Steve Court, Nuclear AMRC operations director, will take part in the Nuclear – Business Opportuntities in New Build and Life Extensions session from 11am on Wednesday morning, to highlight the opportunities in the nuclear sector for manufacturers engaged in offshore wind, oil and gas, and other energy sectors.

Steve will also be presenting at NOF Energy’s Nuclear Networking Lunch on Tuesday 22 May.

MANTRA, the AMRC’s unique travelling showcase for advanced engineering, will be outside the conference hall to present our manufacturing R&D capabilities for nuclear and other innovative energy industries. MANTRA is a customised 14m HGV trailer, designed to give young engineers a hands-on experience with real cutting-edge technologies including high-performance machining and virtual reality.

Skills academy expands into nuclear manufacturing

The government has confirmed funding for a new skills centre for nuclear manufacturing, led by the National Skills Academy for Nuclear with support from the Nuclear AMRC.

The National Skills Academy Nuclear – Manufacturing will create a single point of entry for employers.

A dedicated team, based at the Nuclear AMRC’s South Yorkshire facility, will tackle the most urgent skills challenges facing the nuclear manufacturing industry.

The team will develop training and skills products to help companies win new business, and expand the established High Quality Provider Network into the nuclear manufacturing sector.

The new project is backed by the Skills Funding Agency at the Department of Business Innovation and Skills (BIS). It marks an expansion of the National Skills Academy for Nuclear (NSA Nuclear) into the nuclear manufacturing sector, with support from Semta, the sector skills council for advanced manufacturing and engineering, and the Nuclear AMRC.

Professor Steve Court, operations director for the Nuclear AMRC, says: “This collaboration with the National Skills Academy for Nuclear and SEMTA is a unique opportunity to really make a tangible difference for employers. By applying our knowledge and understanding of nuclear manufacturing, we can develop products and solutions which will build workforce skills and knowledge and help companies demonstrate their capability to customers when they bid for work.”

Jean Llewellyn OBE, chief executive of NSA Nuclear, says: “The opportunities for the manufacturing supply chain in this area are considerable from the UK alone, running into many millions. Combine this with the global market share manufacturers in the UK could access and the importance of this sector in delivering high value exports becomes apparent. The Nuclear Manufacturing expansion of the National Skills Academy for Nuclear will support the UK supply chain to ensure it is well placed and has the skilled workforce required to gain maximum value from this global renaissance.”

For more information, see NSA Nuclear.

Fit For Nuclear introduction

Thursday 10 May, Manchester.

An introduction to our Fit For Nuclear programme for manufacturing companies who want to investigate a strategic move into the nuclear sector.

The one-day event will explain more about Fit For Nuclear, and help companies decide whether nuclear manufacturing is right for them.

The event will also cover our other work, including support in skills, training and R&D, and offer one-to-one sessions with our nuclear manufacturing specialists to discuss specific requirements.

We will be offering similar events around the UK later this year.

For more information, contact Rachael

£15 million for industry R&D

The UK government is investing up to £15 million in research, development and knowledge transfer to stimulate innovation and support growth in the civil nuclear power sector.

The investment was announced by the Technology Strategy Board during their Collaboration Nation: Nuclear R&D event at the Nuclear AMRC in Rotherham.

The programme is backed by the Department of Energy and Climate Change, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. It will fund feasibility projects, collaborative research and development and knowledge transfer partnerships that stimulate innovation and strengthen the UK supply chain.

Iain Gray, chief executive of the Technology Strategy Board, said: “Innovation is key if UK businesses are to take advantage of likely future global market  opportunities in civil nuclear engineering and its associated technologies.  As part of a strong, sustainable supply chain, we see innovation, combined with the development and transfer of skills, as vital ingredients to success.”

The programme includes up to £12 million for business-led collaborative R&D projects. Qualifying projects will generally have a value of between £500,000 and £2 million, with up to half of the investment coming from the public funding, and last two to three years.

A further £2 million will be invested in feasibility studies lasting 6-12 months. Qualifying projects must be led by an SME, and will attract up to £75,000 grant funding.

Applicants will have to show how they will help strengthen the UK supply chain whilst contributing to the high-level, long-term challenge of developing cost-effective and safe solutions with high reliability and durability in the nuclear sector. They must also take account of the key issues of regulation, health and safety and non-proliferation. For more information, see the Developing the civil nuclear power supply chain competition call.

The feasibility and collaborative R&D competitions open on 2 July 2012 and the deadline for registration is 29 August 2012.  The deadline for submitting feasibility applications and expressions of interest in collaborative R&D is 5 September 2012.

Another £1 million will support Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs), which will focus on the transfer of knowledge and skills into industry from academia. The KTP call also opens on 2 July 2012 and applications must be submitted by 4 October 2012.

Further information from the Technology Strategy Board:

Nnuman to address next generation of nuclear manufacturing

The Nuclear AMRC is launching new long-term research into innovative manufacturing techniques to meet the future needs of the UK nuclear industry.

New Nuclear Build and Manufacturing (Nnuman) is a joint project between the Dalton Nuclear Institute at The University of Manchester and the Nuclear AMRC at the University of Sheffield, with £4 million funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). The universities will also invest around £4 million in the project, which will focus on the early development of a range of new manufacturing technologies. The most promising technologies will go on into advanced development at the Nuclear AMRC and National Nuclear Laboratory.

A recent House of Lords’ Science and Technology Committee report – Nuclear Research and Development Capabilities – identified insufficient research and development capacity as a potential threat to the UK’s ability to produce power from nuclear energy.

The Nnuman project will address this concern by developing R&D capabilities to support a robust civil nuclear power supply to meet UK and global energy needs well into the future. The project will focus on the fundamentals of manufacturing for new nuclear build and the next generation of power stations.

Key research areas for Nnuman are:

  • Innovative joining technologies, including narrow gap welding and processes for next-generation materials.
  • Advanced machining, including robotic machining and laser and cryogenic processes.
  • Near-net shape manufacture, including hot isostatic pressing and shape welding.
  • Product performance, to prove that all components produced by these new methods will survive a nuclear environment.

Professor Mike Burke, director of research and technology at the Nuclear AMRC, based at the Dalton Nuclear Institute’s Manufacturing Technology Research Laboratory at The University of Manchester (pictured left), said: “This programme grant is a foresighted investment that will enable the pursuit of new and more efficient manufacturing technologies while maintaining the standards of reliability and safety that are expected in the nuclear industry. 

“It also represents an exciting opportunity for our next generation of scientists and engineers to develop state-of-the-art understanding of new processes and product performance.”

Professor Andrew Sherry, Director of the Dalton Nuclear Institute at The University of Manchester (pictured right), said: “Innovation in manufacturing technology for new nuclear build offers the UK a real growth opportunity. We are delighted that Nnuman will now be the research engine that drives this forward.”

Professor Keith Ridgway, programme director of the Nuclear AMRC and Executive Dean of the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Institute, said: “This funding will help us to look at the longer term manufacturing research needs of the nuclear industry. The work we will do in the Nnuman project will feed directly into the applications-directed work of the Nuclear AMRC.”

Nnuman will act as a research engine for nuclear manufacturing, driving new technologies from the laboratory to production-readiness. The project will showcase the benefits of these new methods to UK manufacturing companies and help them introduce them to their own factories.

Through a programme of multi-disciplinary research at Manchester and Sheffield, the next generation of nuclear manufacturing scientists and engineers will be trained with the highest level of academic and technical support, using world-class facilities and with strong links to industry. Nnuman will help young engineers develop high-level skills to fill new high-quality jobs in a growing nuclear manufacturing sector.

Professor Dave Delpy, EPSRC’s chief executive, said: “Several years ago, EPSRC recognised the importance of maintaining an expertise in nuclear engineering in the UK, and made a strategic investment in postgraduate training through its Keeping the Nuclear Option Open initiative and subsequent funding programmes.

“The New Nuclear Build and Manufacturing programme builds on these earlier investments, and will play a key role in helping develop new manufacturing techniques that will lead to materials that can function more effectively in the hostile operating environments of a nuclear reactor. Having a cutting edge capability in these fields will mean we have a stronger foothold in the manufacturing sector and are able to attract the best students and researchers to the UK.”

Research collaboration for Newburgh Engineering

The Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre is working with contract manufacturer Newburgh Engineering to deliver lasting business benefits. The centre’s machining research specialists are collaborating with Newburgh to make sure that the company’s key products are made in the most efficient way.

Newburgh has been working for several years with an overseas customer to produce large components for the energy industry. These parts require significant machining on large-bed machines at Newburgh’s Bradwell and Rotherham sites.

In today’s competitive global market, suppliers like Newburgh are constantly challenged to reduce costs. Newburgh is now working with the Nuclear AMRC to make sure its machining processes are optimised and to look at new techniques and technologies that could be applied.

Andrew Wright of Newburgh Engineering with Stuart Dawson of the Nuclear AMRCAs part of Newburgh’s membership agreement, one of the company’s own employees – experienced production engineer Andrew Wright (left) – now works full-time at the Nuclear AMRC. As well as supporting the centre’s machining team, Andrew is leading the project to optimise Newburgh’s current production processes.

“Traditionally in a production environment, the engineers don’t have time to do detailed tests – you can’t optimise or do benchmarking,” he says. “At the Nuclear AMRC, we’ve got time to do the analysis and get the best processes together and collect some proper data.”

Andrew is currently heading a benchmarking process to establish whether the current process is already optimal or, if not, find ways to improve it.

One possible way to improve the production method is to use a more powerful machine tool. Andrew will lead tests on the Nuclear AMRC’s StarragHeckert HEC1600 horizontal boring centre. Newburgh does have similarly powerful machining centres of its own, but using them in research would mean they weren’t available for commercial production. “We can do this off-site and not cost Newburgh any production time,” Andrew notes.

Other companies which have joined the Nuclear AMRC are also providing their experience and resources. Sandvik Coromant, as a tier one member in the Nuclear AMRC, is collaborating as tooling partner for the Newburgh project. And the team are using CAD/CAM software provided by SolidCAM. “That’s a system that Newburgh don’t use, but at the Nuclear AMRC we’re able to use the latest system,” Andrew says. “We’ve got a pool of software from different companies that SMEs or even large companies wouldn’t have.”

Newburgh can also draw on the academic resources of the centre. Krystian Wika, postgraduate research engineer at the Nuclear AMRC, is leading the investigation into new production techniques which could potentially be introduced to Newburgh’s own factories.

Stuart Dawson, head of machining research at the Nuclear AMRC, says: “Andrew is an invaluable addition to our team. As well as his practical machining expertise, his industry knowledge helps keep us focused on the real business requirements of the companies that we’re working with. Newburgh is a great example of the kind of manufacturing company that can succeed in the nuclear supply chain, and we’re proud to be working closely with them to help achieve their ambitions for the UK market and beyond.”

“I have 20 years experience in subcontracting business for nuclear parts, and bring some practical manufacturing experience to the team,” Andrew says. “I’m also getting the opportunity to work with different systems and different people, and learn a new approach to work. The Nuclear AMRC is gaining real-world industry experience, and I’m gaining a more theoretical approach to manufacturing research.”

Newburgh Engineering started manufacturing parts for the nuclear industry in the 1950s from its Bradwell site, Derbyshire. This makes it one of the first engineering companies to establish itself in this sector, and one of the few who has never stopped producing components for nuclear reactors.

Nuclear contracts remain a significant part of the modern business, making up over a fifth of its total turnover. It was awarded a major 10 year contract from Springfields Fuels Ltd in 2011, demonstrating the company’s commitment to the nuclear new build agenda.

Commercial Manager Matthew Jewitt says: “Newburgh Engineering is already a premier contract manufacturer, and has decades of knowledge about producing parts for the nuclear industry. Working with the Nuclear AMRC to optimize and improve our production methods will make us even better, and should secure our place as a key supplier for the nuclear new build.”

Areva and Rolls-Royce deal kickstarts UK new build

Rolls-Royce and Areva have signed a major supply agreement that will put Rolls-Royce’s new nuclear manufacturing facility at the heart of the UK supply chain.

The deal was announced as the UK and France launched a new cooperation agreement on civil nuclear development. Prime Minister David Cameron said the agreement was “just the beginning” of investment which could be worth £60 billion and create 30,000 jobs.

“I want the vast majority of the content of our new nuclear plants to be constructed, manufactured and engineered by British companies,” Cameron said. “We will choose the partners and technologies to maximise the economic benefits to the UK.”

Under the new agreement, Rolls-Royce will supply Areva with a range of complex components and engineering and technical services for the first of its EPR power stations to be built in the UK. The work will be worth around £100 million revenue to Rolls-Royce for each EPR, with much of the value feeding down the UK supply chain.

EDF Energy is proposing to build two EPRs each at Hinkley Point, Somerset, and Sizewell, Suffolk. EDF also announced a number of new developments, including a £100 million contract with Kier BAM for site preparation at Hinkley Point C.

The other new-build consortia, Horizon Nuclear Power and NuGeneration, are yet to decide between the EPR and Westinghouse’s rival AP1000 reactor.

Professor Keith Ridgway CBE, programme director of the Nuclear AMRC, commented: “We are delighted to hear this news, which effectively kickstarts the new nuclear build programme.

“The Nuclear AMRC will play a pivotal role in the development of the next generation nuclear power plants, and we hope we can assist UK companies to successfully compete in the emerging supply chain.”

A key route for UK manufacturers into the supply chain for Areva and Rolls-Royce is the Nuclear AMRC’s Fit For Nuclear programme. Both Areva and Rolls-Royce are founding members of the Nuclear AMRC.

Rolls-Royce’s work for Areva is likely to be based at its proposed new facility on the Advanced Manufacturing Park, Rotherham, alongside the Nuclear AMRC.

“This means a great deal to the regeneration and perception of South Yorkshire as a high value manufacturing region,” Professor Ridgway commented.