The University of Warwick’s Warwick Manfacturing Group has a global reputation for helping manufacturers and policy makers but they have a particular passion for assisting Midland’s manufacturers.
Just one of WMG’s programmes, the £70 million Premium Automotive Research and Development Programme, has been of immense importance to the West Midlands’ crucial premium automotive manufacturers and their hundreds of suppliers. The technological and engineering business research of WMG has helped that key sector face intense competition with Germany, Japan and the USA and preserve jobs in the midlands.
Premium products the key to prosperity
Professor Kumar Bhattacharyya (Director of WMG) said "Premium products are the key to the prosperity of UK engineering not just in the automotive industry but across the board. This new centre shows that UK luxury car manufacturers and their suppliers are far sighted enough to forge partnerships that not only preserves but builds on their technological edge and this is a model for what should be happening across the whole of UK engineering."
Advantage West Midlands invested £70 million in a programme to University of Warwick has worked alongside high quality vehicle manufacturers and their vast supporting network of over 200 suppliers in the midlands. This ensured those firms gained access to the highest level technical skills and state of the art technology. This was particularly vital for the many small firms and medium sized suppliers who often find it hard to keep up to date with rapid technological change and undertake appropriate R&D programs.
This programme has been honoured by the UK’s Institute for Mechanical Engineers who praised it for its impact, its scale and its innovation and gave WMG the rare privilege of showcasing the programme at the Institute’s AGM.
Dr Kerry Mashford Chairman Manufacturing Division IMechE), said
“At a time when small and medium sized manufacturing companies are struggling to keep up with the pace of change of technology this is an innovative way of linking them with the knowledge base of a first class University in Warwick.”
David Smith (Director of Finance and Business Development PAG and Ford of Europe) said:
“I commend Advantage West Midlands for having the vision to back the programme The Programme has supported real innovation in the supplier base of Jaguar Land Rover in the West Midlands and it has been good to work with a first class University like Warwick”.
Norman Price Deputy Chair Advantage West Midlands said:
"The crucial factor has been the collaboration between a world class automotive manufacturer in JLR and a world class University in Warwick this relationship is of immense importance to the regional economy”.
Here are just three examples of the range of projects being delivered by this new programme:
Researchers Find Dashboard Switches Swings Customer Choice of Premium Cars
Researchers in the University of Warwick's Warwick Manufacturing Group have been working with Ford's Premier Automotive Group to capitalize on the fact that the mere feel of the switches on a £1000 dashboard could be the deciding factor in whether customers purchase £35,000 to £55,000 luxury cars or remain loyal to the luxury car brand they first purchase. More details at
Silence isn’t Golden
The technology improvements that are giving us ever quieter cars are not proving popular with many car drivers. Premium car manufacturers such as Jaguar now want to restore to the inside of a car the sounds their customers want to hear while preserving the reduction in exterior noise. But what exactly do their customers want to hear? - researchers at the University of Warwick's Warwick Manufacturing Group are helping them answer that question. More details at:
Electronic tags to stop multi million pound “disappearances”of manufacturer’s metal cages
WMG have been working with Midland’s manufacturers to devise a scheme to electronically tag one of the basic tools of all manufacturers - the metal cages (stillages) used to transport components could save those manufacturers millions of pounds in lost equipment and lost production by ending the widespread stillage "disappearance" problem. More details at:
What next for WMG and the Midlands?
WMG are anxious to ensure that midlands manufacturers also take up opportunities outsuide the automotive sector. One of the many new programmes they have launched to achieve this includes "Health Tech” designed to help Midlands manufacturing companies tap into the massive relatively new and fast growing health technology manufacturing market that a recent Government report valued as worth up to £6 billion in the UK alone.
On Health-Tech’s launch Alan Curtis, (Principal Research Fellow at Warwick Manufacturing Group) said:
"You only have to watch an episode of ER to realise that the amount of technology that is being used in modern healthcare has grown in leaps and bounds. Whilst ER is a work of fiction a weighty work of fact was published last November. That was the final report of Health Industries Task Force, co-chaired by Lord Warner and Sir Christopher O’Donnell.
"They estimate the world market as being worth some US$170 billion. The UK has a market of about £6 billion, £4.5billion of which is supplied by UK manufacturers who also export some £3 billion worth of healthcare products and I believe that there is a great opportunity for West Midlands engineering in this sector."