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Durham University News

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North arm of national research centre for innovative manufacturing launched at Durham University

(10 May 2012)

Manufacturers could benefit from the North arm of a national research centre aimed at improving the design, reliability and cost-effectiveness of technological and engineered products.

The Engineering and Physical Science Research Council's (EPSRC) Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Through-life Engineering Services is a collaboration between Durham University and Cranfield University, which leads the project.

The EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Through-life Engineering Services will provide world-class capability in the UK to enable industry to deliver high value products with outstanding availability, predictability and reliability, with the lowest life cycle cost.

The Centre was opened at Cranfield University in July 2011 and the project has now launched in the North-East, based in the School of Engineering and Computing Sciences, at Durham University. A launch event was attended by key businesses and organisations including Caterpillar, GT Group Ltd, Business Durham and UK Trade & Investment.

Companies will be able to access research expertise at both universities or commission their own research projects, tapping into the knowledge of the centre's researchers.

They will also be able to benefit from the instrumentation facilities for robust electronics design and development at the North East Through-Life Engineering Services Studio in Durham or network with the Cranfield Studio in Bedfordshire.

The facilities at both sites support investigations of product failure, analysis of the root cause of problems, and strategies for mitigating future failure.

The Centre will combine innovative technology and engineering knowledge, supported by the partner organisations, to tackle some of the major long-term research challenges in through-life engineering services.

Flagship projects include developing self-healing technologies for electronic and mechanical components, which allow them to "fix" themselves, and the improvement of system design process for whole-life cost reduction of aero engines.

Professor Alan Purvis, of Durham University's School of Engineering and Computing Sciences, said: "Durham has a long tradition of innovative research in areas such as electronics and mechanics and this collaboration with the lead partner at Cranfield will allow us to build on these strengths while offering new ideas and solutions to the manufacturing sector.

"The centre could have significant technological and economic benefits for businesses as they seek to improve the cost-effectiveness and reliability of the development of their products in an increasingly competitive market."

Professor Rajkumar Roy, the EPSRC Centre Director and Head of the Manufacturing and Materials Department at Cranfield University, said: "The EPSRC Centre is playing a major national role by supporting colleagues from other universities and research organisations working in through-life engineering services. The core research projects are already attracting significant industry involvement.

"The EPSRC Centre vision is to provide thought leadership in through-life engineering services and be the first choice for UK manufacturing companies as a source of technological solutions, research and development capability, knowledge, skill and advice."

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) is investing £45m for nine national Centre's for Innovative Manufacturing, the first of these centres launched officially at Cranfield University last year.

The collaborative Cranfield and Durham  EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Through-life Engineering Services is supported by four core industry partners - BAE Systems, Bombardier, Rolls-Royce and the Ministry of Defence - and 12 additional industry partners.

In total, five initial projects at the Centre have a funding commitment and will focus on current and future problems identified by industry partners as being key to long term capability:

  • Cross-sector challenges in through-life engineering services;
  • Reduction of 'no fault found' situations through system design;
  • Characterisation of in-service component feedback;
  • Improvement of the system design process;
  • Self-healing technologies for electronic and mechanical components and subsystems.

A number of PhD studentship and Masters degree opportunities will be created through the EPSRC Centre.

Further information about the EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Through-life Engineering Services can be found at: www.through-life-engineering-services.org/ or by contacting Professor Alan Purvis on 0191 334 2437 or email alan.purvis@durham.ac.uk.

Businesses interested in learning more about Durham University's research and engagement activities can contact Durham Business and Innovation Services on 0191 334 4650; email durham.business@durham.ac.uk or visit www.durham.ac.uk/bis/.

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