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11 October 2011 | PR 11/123

Loughborough University innovation to enable leaner, faster manufacturing

Experts at Loughborough University have created a software tool with the potential to save manufacturers millions of pounds a year.

Academics at the Innovative Manufacturing and Construction Research Centre (IMCRC) have created a virtual engineering environment which offers manufacturers a faster and more focused tool for the creation of their automation systems.

The Business Driven Automation (BDA) system has been developed in the automotive sector in partnership with Ford Motor Company, ThyssenKrupp System Engineering Gmbh and Schneider Electric.

BDA provides a virtual engineering environment that has the potential to save manufacturing companies many millions of pounds by enabling them to validate and change automated assembly and production systems quickly and efficiently, at minimal cost and risk across multiple global locations.

The approach is highly generic and applicable to virtually all industrial automation sectors, from electronic goods assembly to the food and packaging industries.

In today’s fast-moving business environment, the ability to change automated assembly and production systems quickly and efficiently, at minimal cost and risk across multiple global locations, is vital.

Current automation systems are difficult and complex to service, reconfigure and integrate.  Moving away from these traditional, slower practices, the new software engineering tool enables rapid configuration and modification of factory automation systems.

The project’s Principal Investigator Prof Rob Harrison said: “We’ve developed innovative software to give a quick, accurate, virtual 3D prototype view of assembly machine behaviour before they are physically built.  We aim to make these tools much easier and faster, and we want to see them used throughout the machine lifecycle, not just at initial design and build.”

Les Lee, Manufacturing Engineering, Ford Motor Company Ltd, said: “Collaboration offers opportunities for reduced costs, faster time-to-market, improved customer satisfaction, strategic thinking and quicker problem solving.  The IMCRC BDA project is a fine example where measurable benefit is being delivered with shared knowledge utilisation and the creation of innovative products.’’

The commercialisation of this project received funding support from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) through the Knowledge Transfer Account (KTA) awarded to Loughborough University.

It has also received support from the Intellectual Property Commercialisation team which is part of the University’s Enterprise Office.

−ENDS−

For all media enquiries contact:

Sarah Hall
Marketing and Communications Officer
Loughborough University
T: 01509 228684
E: S.Hall@lboro.ac.uk  

Notes for editors:

Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.

It was awarded the coveted Sunday Times University of the Year 2008-09 title, and is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in national newspaper league tables. In the 2010 National Student Survey, Loughborough was voted one of the top universities in the UK, and has topped the Times Higher Education league for the UK’s Best Student Experience every year since the poll's inception in 2006. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, the University has been awarded six Queen's Anniversary Prizes.

Loughborough is also the UK’s premier university for sport. It has perhaps the best integrated sports development environment in the world and is home to some of the country’s leading coaches, sports scientists and support staff. It also has the country’s largest concentration of world-class training facilities across a wide range of sports.

It is a member of the 1994 Group of 19 leading research-intensive universities. The Group was established in 1994 to promote excellence in university research and teaching. Each member undertakes diverse and high-quality research, while ensuring excellent levels of teaching and student experience.

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