James Simester
Russ Cockburn

Member Article

AME looks to reduce the prototype cycle after picking up first R&D project

The Institute for Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering (AME) has secured its first research project…three months before officially opening.

R&D experts at the UK’s first ‘Faculty on the Factory Floor’ have successfully won a £750,000 Technology Strategy Board (TSB) competition to discover ways of speeding up the design and prototype cycle and cut costs of bringing new products to market.

The ‘Towards Zero Prototyping’ project will aim to develop novel modelling and simulation techniques that will help designers and manufacturers reduce the need for physical prototypes.

A team of six researchers and engineers from AME will use High Performance Computers at Coventry University to create cutting-edge software that will combine three verification techniques – Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD), Finite Element Analysis (FEA) and Frequency Responses Analysis (FRA) - into one programme.

The project will initially use a Unipart Eberspächer exhaust system destined for a new vehicle model, with longer-term plans to take the R&D into other sectors, including aerospace and rail.

James Simester, Technology Director, explained: “Car manufacturers and tier 1s spend millions every year on developing new products and platforms, with significant costs consumed by analysis and simulation, along with multiple prototype builds.

“The use of modeling and simulation tools is increasing all the time and UK companies are gaining a competitive advantage from the reduction in design cycle times and expenditure, not to mention being able to bring better products to market quicker.”

He continued: “The Technology Strategy Board has committed significant funding into moving ‘Towards Zero Prototyping’ and we believe we have the academic capability and industry application to make the next breakthrough.

“Better still, in our spirit of ‘learning in a live manufacturing environment’, we intend on using a commercial automotive product to test our research.”

AME will develop a software package that will allow Computational Fluid Dynamics, Finite Element Analysis and Frequency Response Analysis to talk to each other for the first time.

This immediately reduces the need to complete each verification process and the simplified solution promises to provide even greater information on corrosion and complex interactions between each analysis discipline.

The Technology Board said the collaboration between industry and academia was crucial to the successful bid and there was clear evidence the project could accelerate the development of lightweight exhaust systems.

James went on to add: “Towards Zero Prototyping is an important first step in our R&D strategy and, if successful, will provide a competitive advantage for companies to win new business through more cost and time efficient demonstration of design, analysis and simulation competencies.”

He concluded: “We are already submitting other project proposals with a number of funding bodies and hope to announce additional projects shortly.”

The Institute for Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering - a collaboration between Coventry University and Unipart Manufacturing Group - is set to pioneer a new higher education model for manufacturing degrees, offering a blend of innovative activity-led teaching, product development and research to create a unique learning environment.

Construction work on the 1,700 square metre, state-of the-art manufacturing and R&D space in Coventry is gathering pace and will be the focal point of training for 30+ undergraduates and postgraduates in the first year.

AME is supported by the Higher Education Funding Council for England’s Catalyst Fund.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Russ Cockburn .

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