Even for seemingly simple products, manufacturing is a very involved process due to the complexity of material behaviour and the process of shaping a final product. As the needs of industry, and environmental drivers and society, change, and evolve, there is a growing need for adaptive, sustainable and innovative manufacturing solutions.
In response, Professor Sienz set up two research centres:
ASTUTE (Advanced Sustainable Manufacturing Technologies) – a Centre of Excellence set up to maximise knowledge exchange between industry and academia through collaborative research projects with national manufacturing companies.
The Institute for Innovative Materials, Processing and Numerical Technologies (IMPACT) – a Centre of Excellence created to tackle the global industrial requirement for fundamental research. IMPACT drives forward cross-college, industry-inspired research with the capacity, through the state-of-the-art IMPACT building, to offer co-location to businesses with access to facilities such as the 1,600m2 open-plan workshop.
Academia-industry partnerships that forge long-term, collaborative relationships is key to developing advanced engineering and manufacturing solutions. These research centres have brought us closer to industry, both nationally and internationally.
The centres have achieved immense economic, environmental and health impact, and have had widespread industry uptake. ASTUTE, for example, has addressed a plethora of socio-economic challenges with local, national and international organisations through over 100 collaborative industry-academia projects. This includes:
- TATA Steel – optimising Sinter Plant operations and generating 10% energy efficiency saving.
- ProHeat – reducing energy consumption for thermosyphons resulting in significant annual CO2 reductions.
- Calon Cardio/Haemair – developing new-to-the-market heart assist pumps and oxygenators for patients with chronic heart failure and lung disease.
- Aluminium Lighting Company – applying computational fluid dynamics to predict the effect of wind-induced oscillations on lighting columns leading to a new product and millions in global sales.
IMPACT partnerships include ENSERV Power, Vestas, Dolomite, Airbus, Crown Packaging, Google, Facebook, Western Power and Microsoft to name a few.
Current projects include exploration of a 5G internal industrial environment for position control of people and machines inside a smart factory. Co-location industrial and academic partners are also focusing, together with engineering researchers, on the topics around Industry 4.0 and the internet of things in the newly formed Future Manufacturing Research Institute, also set up by Professor Sienz.
IMPACT and ASTUTE researchers and staff were quick to respond to the coronavirus pandemic through initiatives such as the Frontline 3D Print Farms making face shields for the NHS – with several additional projects now currently underway.