YORKSHIRE FORWARD INVESTS 6.5M IN 'FACTORY OF THE FUTURE'

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Yorkshire Forward has invested 6.50 million to build a 'Factory of the Future', as part of the second phase of development of the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre with Boeing (AMRC) located at the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) in Waverley, Rotherham.

The facility will contribute to the pioneering work of the region's advanced engineering and materials sector, by creating a unique centre to exploit highly innovative technologies.

It will house the latest manufacturing equipment and 'state of the art' production capabilities to enable businesses trial new developments in a full-scale commercial production capacity, before making significant and high-risk investment decisions.

Information Communications Technology (ICT) and 'virtual' manufacturing will be key components of the new facility, as will alternative manufacturing methods, such as additive manufacturing processes which grow 3-dimensional parts - considerably reducing material waste and increasing design flexibility.

Over 100 researchers will also be stationed at the facility, who will be responsible for transferring knowledge of these pioneering industrial techniques to manufacturing companies throughout the whole region. This will ensure that Yorkshire and Humber possesses the technical expertise to continually compete on a global scale.

The facility is expected to be of significant interest to regional companies in the aerospace, automotive and medical sectors. It is also projected to attract investment partners from around the globe and will build an international reputation for manufacturing excellence. One of the early objectives for the facility will be to ensure that Yorkshire and Humber-based suppliers are selected as preferred partners to these companies.

The facility building will be 4,200m and distinctive in its architecture. It has been designed as national exemplar of 'sustainable' - or environmentally friendly - building development. The build will be carried out and owned at completion by the University of Sheffield.

Commenting on the announcement, Jim Farmery, Head of Innovation in Yorkshire Forward, said: "Our Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre has already established an enviable reputation world-wide - as an international centre of excellence in production technology.

"This new Factory of the Future is a unique opportunity for us to establish the centre as the leading UK research and development facility for a wider range of manufacturing techniques.

"Such facilities will continue to benefit Yorkshire and Humber by developing processes which will allow us to stay at the forefront of global industry. This will ensure economic growth via higher exports and inward investment - and create new jobs and skills development opportunities."

AMRC Research Director, Professor Keith Ridgway said:"The new Factory of the Future will ensure regional manufacturing companies have access to the latest techniques and equipment, essential to compete effectively in today's  global markets.  Yorkshire Forward's backing will ensure a bright and sustainable future for manufacturing in the region."

The AMRC was established five years ago, supported by Yorkshire Forward and with DTI and Objective One funding. Since then it has established a reputation as an international centre of excellence in production engineering for the metals industry. It has developed new manufacturing techniques that have resulted in a performance 'step change' - bringing in commercial orders to the region that would otherwise have gone to developing economic regions. AMRC prime partners now include world-renowned companies Boeing, Rolls Royce, Smith Industries and Messier Dowty.

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