AFRC secures £16.5m for new advanced engineering facility10 August 2018

The University of Strathclyde’s Advanced Forming Research Centre (AFRC) has secured £16.5 million to establish a major new advanced engineering facility that aims to put Scotland at the forefront of the movement to transform one of the manufacturing sector’s most traditional and important supply chains.

FutureForge, funded by the UK Aerospace Research and Technology Programme (delivered by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Innovate UK and the Aerospace Technology Institute), Scottish Enterprise and the AFRC’s High Value Manufacturing (HVM) Catapult funding, will adjoin the Renfrewshire-based centre and look to revolutionise the global hot forging sector.

Set to begin operating in 2020, the advanced hot forging research platform will include a one-of-a-kind, industry 4.0 ready, demonstrator.

It will see the AFRC work with companies in the aerospace, automotive, oil and gas, energy, nuclear and rail industries, helping companies to increase their global competitiveness. The facility will also help generate around £40 million of new collaborative R&D projects over 10 years, creating up to 34 new jobs.

Speaking about the announcement, Ivan McKee, Scottish minister for trade, investment and innovation, said: “I’m delighted to see this latest development for the AFRC. The new facility will put Scotland at the forefront of the latest industrial revolution, helping some of the most traditional manufacturing businesses and their supply chains embrace the latest in digital technologies. When I visited the centre last month, I was able to hear first-hand how the funding will be invested to develop this world leading technological capability.

“Today’s news follows our announcement eight months ago that we are investing in a £65m National Manufacturing Institute for Scotland (NMIS) in Renfrewshire, also in partnership with the University of Strathclyde. This latest project by the AFRC in the region highlights once again the importance of Scotland as a centre for cutting-edge manufacturing technology and demonstrates our world leadership ambitions."

Talking about the new facility, Professor Keith Ridgway, executive chair at the AFRC, said: “This is an exciting time for advanced engineering and manufacturing in Scotland. This is the third big announcement in the past year and the country’s reputation as being the go-to place for the development of the next generation of manufacturing technologies is strengthening.

“I’m thrilled that the AFRC is at the heart of all manufacturing R&D in the country and the FutureForge facility will see us transform the $268 billion global forging supply chain. Taking it from a black-art with centuries of tradition and turning it into a competitive industry with advanced digitised capabilities fit for centuries to come. This project really will help secure the future of an industry that is vitally important to the wider manufacturing sector across the globe.”

Adam Offord

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