· The SME Group at WMG, University of Warwick, has secured a £6m extension to their programme to help small manufacturing companies in the East and West Midlands
· Funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the High Value Manufacturing Catapult at WMG, to create a much-needed support for Midlands manufacturers
· The programme will work collaboratively with a further 250 manufacturing companies across the Midlands to solve manufacturing challenges, to improve productivity and boost competitiveness
· Support is provided from a dedicated and highly industry experienced team with expertise in materials and manufacturing, sustainability, digital manufacturing and business transformation
The programme delivered by the SME Group at WMG, University of Warwick has been a major success in the West Midlands over the last 2 years, helping over 100 companies, develop 71 new products and processes, from automation and productivity plans through to the zero emission technologies of tomorrow.
Companies, including Genius Facades, a construction company in Wolverhampton, who gained a 15% increase in productivity, thanks to the team helping them by digitising their factory floor.
Another example includes the team helping Power Panels Electrical, in Walsall, win £3m of contracts in the Niche Vehicles sector.
Given the success of the programme, the team have been awarded a further £6m from to take them through to March 2023, meaning the team has gone from a 2 year £5m programme, to an £11m 5 ½ year programme. This extension will enable the team to operate from Wolverhampton and Worcestershire in the West, to Loughborough and Luton in the East Midlands.
Over the next 2 ½ years they will help more than 350 SMEs benefit from the latest in digital manufacturing technologies and thinking, helping them become more productive, competitive and sustainable. Fully funded support from 2 to 15 days is available for eligible small manufacturers.
Dr Mark Swift, head small business programmes at WMG, University of Warwick comments:
“We are thrilled to have the manufacturing competitiveness programme extended, and look forward to being able to help hundreds of small businesses across the midlands to transform their business and become more sustainable.
“The support we offer will be especially helpful in light of Covid-19, as after months of lockdown businesses can be helped to get back on their feet and thrive.”
“We are here, ready to help our region’s manufacturing companies; to make manufacturing technology and thinking work for you, to help our businesses to grow become more productive and sustainable and ultimately make more in the UK.”
If you are a local manufacturing company please get in touch, the team would love to hear from you. E-mail them at: email@example.com
9 SEPTEMBER 2020
NOTES TO EDITORS
High-res images available at:
Caption: The WMG SME team improve the shop floor productivity at Genius Facades
Credit: WMG, University of Warwick
For further information please contact:
Media Relations Manager – Science
University of Warwick
Tel: +44 (0) 7920 531 221
WMG Centre High Value Manufacturing Catapult, with support from Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) Electrical Energy Storage Spoke, has created a series of short educational videos to help explain the process of transport electrification.
In each episode, the experts explain more about the research carried out at WMG’s Energy Innovation Centre and address the key issues surrounding an electric future.
The videos will now be shared with policy makers, and schools across Coventry and Warwickshire to help support STEM learning.
The three episodes can be found in WMG’s Electric Vehicle playlist here.
HVM Catapult has, today, published it's 2019/2020 Annual Review.
Archie MacPherson, CEO, WMG Centre High Value Manufacturing Catapult commented: “The High Value Manufacturing Catapult Annual Review 2019/20 highlights how WMG and the other six centres are delivering real impact for the UK economy – contributing to £518m of industry R&D investment.
"This past year has seen many opportunities arise, for instance, the increasing emphasis on green manufacturing and journey to Net Zero transport. A leader in electrification for all sectors, WMG worked closely with industry innovators to accelerate this journey, including a collaboration with Nissan to develop a process for recycling and reusing EV batteries.
"As well as these exciting prospects, we have also seen many challenges this year, including the seismic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. This Annual Review is a testament to our manufacturing sector, and highlights several outstanding examples that WMG are proud to have supported, from helping a firm develop life-saving ventilator products, to aiding the production and distribution of PPE to the frontline.
"As we look ahead, there are bound to be more difficulties to come as we begin on the road to recovery, but this Review demonstrates the invaluable role of the HVM Catapult, to help us emerge stronger. We remain committed to helping to restart our manufacturing economy, support the opportunity to enable business to reposition and transform with the opportunities for a more digital, decarbonised and sustainable future.”
Download a copy of the Annual Review here.
This has inspired 25 students from a range of Departments including: WMG, School of Engineering, Computer Science, Physics, Law and Maths to work together to make Aurora, an electric superbike with thanks to support from WMG and the High Value Manufacturing (HVM) Catapult team at WMG.
The superbike, Aurora, will be raced when appropriate after the Coronavirus pandemic, however the students have been working hard at home, and have finalised their designs for the bike.
WMG battery experts will facilitate a mix of live lectures and pre-recorded practical hands-on-sessions, virtually, over the five days.
The lectures will cover manufacturing Lithium batteries, module and pack design, electrical testing and ageing, battery management systems, safety and abuse testing, forensic characterisation and battery end of life.
Meanwhile the practical, pre-recorded in the Energy Innovation Centre, lab sessions, will focus on microscopy; electrode mixing and coating; pouch and cylindrical cell fabrication; cell and module testing; and forensics.
WMG’s Outreach Team, with support from the WMG centre HVM Catapult staff, have been helping children with fun and creative STEM activities to help with home schooling.
With schools currently closed, the Team have been working hard to create educational resources highlighting the value of engineering for children of all ages.
WMG Outreach Project Officer, Dr Phil Jemmett, has also taken part in the last two Global Science Shows, an initiative that brings together science activities and experiments from all over the world, live on Twitter.
In the first show, Phil demonstrated three separate science experiments, exploring density and floating, using 3D printed parts in just two minutes. In the second show Phil showcased the classic bottle rocket launch! However this time, instead of using a cork to hold back the pressure, the launcher used a rupture disk which acts as an important safety feature on some industrial equipment.
“Coventry and the wider Midlands has a proud engineering history – take Sir Frank Whittle as an example. Hearsall Common features a plaque paying homage to a moment in history when Frank, as a child, saw a plane land on that field. He went on to pioneer the jet engine, receive a knighthood, give lectures at NASA and be voted amongst the top 100 Britons of all time. Quite the list of achievements! But each great journey starts with one small step, and the motivation to take that step,” explains Phil.
He adds: “At WMG, we take part in inspiring and amazing work that deserves to be shared and spread to young people in the area. The power of our research to inspire and motivate the next generation of children, by giving them an experience just like Sir Frank’s watching the plane land at Hearsall Common, is immense. While the demonstrations in the Global Science Show videos are only small we are not aiming to invent the next jet engine with each one – we are hoping to provide the spark that kindles a burning passion in a young person to succeed in engineering.”
Home schooling support
WMG’s Outreach team has completed another successful series of Royal Institution Masterclasses for school children across Coventry.
The classes aim to open the eyes of young people to the excitement of engineering, and in turn, inspire the next generation of scientists, mathematicians and engineers.
Local schools were invited to nominate two year nine students to take part, with a total of 24 students participating in the sessions overall.
The Masterclasses were held on Saturday mornings in the form of interactive workshop sessions focusing on a different aspect of engineering. The Series was delivered by staff and students from WMG, with several of this year’s classes led by researchers working on key WMG HVM Catapult projects.
Professor Margaret Low, Director of Outreach and Widening Participation at WMG explained: “Sadly, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the final masterclass focusing on software and control could not be held as an interactive session on campus.
“Instead myself and Helen Luckhurst, Project Officer at WMG HVM Catapult, held the final session virtually across two evenings.”
Professor Low added: “The virtual classes were a complete first for the Outreach team, a strange but still successful end to the Masterclasses. We presented a series of video tutorials and the students then used their programming and pattern skills to create an embroidered pattern design for a coaster. There were some really great designs.”
Find out more about the 2020 RI Masterclasses here.
A team of WMG academics, technicians and engineers are using their 3D Printing skills, to help in the fight against COVID-19, by producing face shields for NHS front-line staff.
As the supply of PPE became a key issue in the pandemic, technicians Phil Gibbons, Joseph Benjamin and Martin Worrall, and PhD student Kevin Couling responded to 3D Crowd’s call asking volunteers to use their 3D Printing capabilities to produce face shields.
WMG’s nine 3D printers have now been programmed to run around the clock producing more than 400 shields each week.
The first batch of face shields have now been vigorously inspected, cleaned, packaged and distributed to 3D Crowd’s central assembly station in Warwickshire. They will now be sent to organisations running low on supplies.
Reader Greg Gibbons explains: “Demand for PPE is incredibly high, and we are in a unique position to be able to help.
“We have 3D Printers running in our Degree Apprenticeship Centre (DAC) and we are also planning to open up our Materials Engineering Centre (MEC) to enable mass production of the shields.”
In addition to the work with 3D Crowd, and with funding from WMG Centre High Value Manufacturing Catapult, the team are also working in collaboration with Queen Mary University of London on the development of an injection moulding process for face shield to enable mass production of the frame.
Associate Professor Jérôme Charmet, and Post-Doctoral Research Associate Rui Rodrigues explain: “It is fantastic that we are able to respond to this call and work towards providing the protection to the NHS that is so desperately needed.
“We are now finalising a tool design before we begin production. Once the process is up and running we then plan to transfer manufacture to Andel Plastics, an Injection Mould SME, who will continue with large scale production.”
WMG is proud to be playing its part in the government’s Driving the Electric Revolution challenge.
Fourteen winning projects, announced by the Business Secretary in March, will share a total of £6.7 million. These projects will help boost supply chain efficiencies in industries affected by electrification, from aerospace to automotive, to energy and rail.
Transport Minister Rachel Maclean said:
“Funding and increased support for state-of-the-art electric manufacturing centres will help people, goods and services move across the nation, in a greener, safer and more reliable way than ever before.
By investing in world-leading science and engineering institutions, we are creating a modern transport system, bringing communities closer together while reducing the UK’s contribution to climate change.”
Co-ordinated by WMG Centre High Value Manufacturing Catapult, WMG at the University of Warwick, will be part of the project consortiums for High Volume E-Machine Stack Manufacture and Lightweight Aluminium Winding (LAW).
High Volume E-Machine Stack Manufacture
This project brings WMG together with Brandauer, and Jaguar Land Rover to improve the production methods, tooling design, processes and material selection used in the creation of rotor and stator components to pave the way to a high volume production of thinner laminations in the UK.
Given the rise of electric vehicles and more electrified systems it is strategically desirable for the UK to develop its own supply chain for the production and distribution of high-performance electric machines at volume. This project seeks to close the gap in UK-based supply of rotor and stator lamination stacks.
Brandauer is already established as a market leader in high precision stampings and pressings in multiple sectors but does not currently have the capability to meet the demand of the automotive sector. This will create the opportunity for Brandauer to not just enter the automotive supply chain, but to do so as best-in-class.
Lightweight Aluminium Winding (LAW)
A consortium, led by Aspire Engineering, with WMG, Voltalogic, Ashwoods Automotive, Hydro Aluminium Rolled Products will develop a winding machine for aluminium wires. The winding machine will provide the first UK supply chain solution for manufacturing aluminium coils. Coil winding is a critical component of eMachine manufacture and is not provided by any UK manufacturer. UK based companies of eMachines have to purchase winding machines from overseas suppliers or have wound coils shipped to them.
Ashwoods and Voltalogic will provide copper coil designs that will be redesigned to use aluminium wire. Hydro Aluminium Rolled Products will provide coated aluminium wire with the preferred electrical conductivity and mechanical properties. Aspire will build their work on winding machines to provide a volume manufacturing solution, and WMG will leverage their development work on volume e-Machine manufacture to guide the partners to the provision of a volume manufacturing solution.
The successful completion of the project will provide a UK supply chain for the manufacture of e-Machine coil winding. Through this, it will enhance the UK's competitiveness to deliver e-Machine manufacturing technology. It will embed the design and manufacturing expertise for coil winding into the UK supply chain.
The project will develop the reduction in weight of e-Machines by 15% without compromising performance by developing manufacturing processes for winding coils from alternative material.
It will also deliver, for the first time, to the off-highway market a single source drive system incorporating advanced IPM motor technology, radically lighter BUT equally as efficient as current IPM technology.
Find out more about WMG’s Transport Electrification and Energy research here.
The outreach team from WMG, University of Warwick, want to encourage children and their parents and carers to use this time to explore some of the fun, creative STEM learning opportunities which are available online. With support from WMG centre HVM Catapult, the outreach team at WMG has produced a number of online activities for children of all ages to get involved and learn something new.
Professor Margaret Low, Director of Outreach and Widening Participation for WMG, explains:
"With schools closing it’s a real opportunity to engage parents and carers with online teaching resources, to ensure children are getting an education at home during these uncertain times.”
“We hope these resources, which are suitable for young people of all ages, will inspire children to take up careers in STEM. Many children may think of engineering as physically making things, but don't realise the maths or computer design skills required, which could open up a great career for them in the future.”
The first resource suggested by WMG outreach team is Turtlestitch, which is great for children in school years 5 to 9. Turtlestitch is a free website on which users can write a program to control a digital embroidery machine. It is used by WMG for outreach activities, as a means of raising awareness of the breadth of engineering. Young people really enjoy using Turtlestitch for pattern design, with or without access to a digital embroidery machine, which makes it ideal for learning at home while schools are closed.
Helen Luckhurst, a Project Officer at WMG, University of Warwick comments: “Turtlestitch is great for children learning at home because it gives them a fun context for applying maths skills. It is interactive and engaging as children discover the patterns they can make using maths.”
“We have created a number of resource cards and video tutorials to support its use, so I hope that parents and carers will encourage their children to use this as a different way of learning.”
Find WMG video tutorials, how-to cards and maths tasks to guide users through Turtlestitch here. Explore the learning materials on basic programming skills, year 5 and 6 maths, craft projects and further mathematical investigations.
Another fun activity for both primary and secondary school children is Tinkercad, a colourful, easy to use computer-aided design software, which is free to use in the web browser and suitable for children from around 8 years of age. Teachers, kids, hobbyists, and designers use it to imagine, design, and make anything. It is used by WMG outreach as part of the Warwick Bright Stars programme in primary schools. Parents can find video tutorials and ideas for several projects here, including keyrings, money pots and lolly drip trays.
Diane Burton, a Project Officer at WMG, University of Warwick explains: "These Tinkercad projects engage children in the design process, and get them using measurements and maths as an essential part of their design work.”
Autodesk Fusion 360 is a powerful, professional CAD package. It is used in secondary schools and is suitable for ages 14+, and a free download is available to students, educators and enthusiasts. WMG video and written tutorials are available here, where you will find projects including design of assistive technology.
Parents may also want to do some experiments at home with their children, which are fun and educational for any age.
WMG staff have made videos available of demonstrating experiments to do at home, using household items and toys you might already have. It is advisable that children are supervised during these experiments.
Watch Graduate Trainee Engineers Lauren, Jacob, Josh and Lucas demonstrating STEM experiments, and follow a guide to building a pulley from a toy construction set. There are many more experiments to come, telling the engineering story behind household objects.
Dr Phil Jemmett, a Project Officer at WMG, University of Warwick comments: “Every product in your house has been made by engineers and shaped by scientists. We want to tell the story behind those items and show you experiments that you can do with everyday stuff. Now that we are all staying in our homes, we just have to find a way to do STEM with what we’ve got!”
Parental supervision is advised when accessing external websites.