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Founded in 2010 with the key objective of bridging the gap between academia and industry, The Manufacturing Technology Centre in Coventry is developing a seriously powerful network of industrial partners to drive forward the research it is undertaking.
The £45.5 million investment made at The Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) so far is publicly funded as part of the Government’s Manufacturing Strategy programme, which sets out ambitious visions for high technology manufacturing. The most obvious sign of this investment is the state-of-the-art building that houses the MTC on the purpose built Ansty Business Park. This building contains several million Pounds worth of metalcutting machine tools, additive machining systems, bespoke automated welding systems and 3D virtual reality.
Due to the sheer scale of this facility and the availability of the latest state-of-the-art equipment, along with the in-house industrial and academic expertise, The MTC is able to undertake research projects on a full industrial scale, installing production lines or machine cells where necessary. This ability greatly de-risks the process for the client and removes some of the pressures that would typically fall on the shoulders of industry alone.
By acting as an intermediary between academia and industry The MTC is able to carry out early stage research and development and reach informed decisions on the technical and, just as importantly, commercial feasibility of a new products or processes. Typical research projects would include areas such as net shape manufacturing, intelligent automation, advanced tooling and fixturing, and manufacturing simulation. All of which require the involvement of academic and industrial partners.
The MTC has worked hard over the past two years to bring together a select group of universities and engineering businesses to create a dynamic network of leading thinkers and doers. Three leading universities, Birmingham, Loughbourough and Nottingham are joined by TWI (The Welding Institute) to form a research partnership group and these are working alongside industrial members of The MTC which include, among others: Rolls Royce; Airbus; Nissan; Aero Engine Controls; Hewlet Packard; DMG-Mori Seiki; Sandvik Coromant; Siemens; Renishaw; Agie Charmilles and Kuka.
The most recent addition to this prestigious list is metalworking fluids specialist Jemtech (UK) which is making available the range of Blaser Swisslube metal working fluids, along with the support of Blaser’s research department. In addition Jemtech will be installing its Cleanmist, Fe-Ol and Waterhog products at the MTC to assist in meeting the strict environmental targets that the organisation has set itself. Jemtech’s membership will see it participate in specific engineering projects at The MTC working alongside other member companies, with each contributing knowledge to generate new processes and intellectual property that will be a valuable asset to each member and their customers.
As a Member at The MTC businesses such as Jemtech play an active role in the selection of specific funded projects. As part of The MTC’s technology Advisory board members review research submissions and a democratic process ensures that those projects that will add the most to the improvement of manufacturing processes are driven forward by all concerned.
The bringing together of like-minded businesses that have products that complement each other is an important part of the development of The MTC and Technology Director Ken Young is keen to introduce companies, such as Jemtech that can both add to the research that is being undertaken and also benefit from being involved. “The relationships that we are developing here at The MTC are a vital ingredient to the success of the overall function of this facility. We are looking forward to drawing on their expertise and knowledge. Similarly, we are confident that they will work successfully alongside our other members and play a vital role in generating novel ideas, which is central to our core research. This interaction is how we became aware of Jemtech as they were recommended to us by our Tier One machine tool member DMG Mori Seiki.
This development of solutions is where The MTC will not only be able to make use of the full range of Blaser Swisslube metal working fluids, but also have the opportunity to work alongside Blaser’s research and development team in Switzerland. This facility employs over 200 highly-skilled employees, counting professors, doctors, chemists, laboratory technicians and production engineers among their number, making it the largest research laboratory of its kind in Europe. Blaser also has its own tech centre, containing an enviable collection of the latest machine tools, which are used for proving out applications, whilst demonstrating the significance and value of the cutting fluid.
Commenting on this latest development Jemtech (UK)’s Managing Director Steve Coull says: “Working alongside The MTC and its members aligns our business with some of the leading manufacturing companies in the UK and is a fantastic opportunity for us to work alongside many forward thinking engineering technology businesses. By partnering these businesses on projects at the MTC we will be able to further develop the Blaser Swisslube products and provide superior solutions to manufacturing issues. A further major advantage for Jemtech is that this relationship with the MTC will further increase our profile in the advanced manufacturing sector and allow our customers to see first-hand the superb facilities here and to benefit from the strategic role we will be playing in developing new manufacturing technologies, aiding them to be even more productive.”
The MTC will be working with Jemtech to ensure that the Blaser metalworking fluids are managed correctly to ensure that operators and visitors are guaranteed a clean and safe working area. This will be addressed by the installation of Cleanmist oil/air mist centrifugal filter systems to any machine that requires them, along with Fe-Ol oil skimmers to ensure that the coolant sump is kept free from tramp oil and other contaminants.
In terms of recycling fluids the MTC is keen to install the latest version of WaterHog, which drastically reduces the volume of waste fluid that needs to be disposed of. “From an environmental point of view WaterHog will be a major benefit to the MTC,” says Adam Land Workshop Manager at The MTC. “By reducing the amount of waste fluid by up to 90 per cent we are not only reducing the impact of waste disposal, but also saving significant costs. From an engineering perspective the access to the wide range of metalworking fluids that will enable us to address machining issues across a wide range of materials and under different cutting conditions will be a major advantage to the projects that we will be working on at the MTC. In addition, when unexpected situations arise the reassurance that we have the support of the Blaser research department, which can quickly investigate and develop new products will be an invaluable part of our ongoing relationship.”