HRH Duke of York opens the University of Sheffield’s Factory 2050

10 April 2017
  • Factory 2050 is a flagship new facility at the University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC)
  • The facility is designed to help manufacturing companies test new production methods and quickly change product designs on an assembly line
  • The £43m development was part funded by the European Regional Development Fund and the Higher Education Funding Council for England.

HRH The Duke of York visited the Sheffield City Region today (Monday 10 April 2017) to open the University of Sheffield’s Factory 2050 at the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC).

(l-r) HRH The Duke of York is greeted at Factory 2050 by Mr Robert Dyson QPM-DL, Provost and Deputy Vice Chancellor of The University of Sheffield, Professor Shearer West and Professor Keith Ridgway, Executive Dean of the AMRC.

Factory 2050 is the UK’s first fully reconfigurable collaborative research facility, dedicated to digital assembly and flexible component manufacturing.

Teams at Factory 2050 are working with manufacturing partners on projects spanning robotics and automation, digitally-assisted assembly and manufacturing informatics. This work will help to develop ways of meeting demand for high variation and mass customisation, making sense of big data, human-machine collaboration and looking at techniques for digitally-assisted assembly.

Factory 2050 is at the heart of the University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Campus, and is situated on the site once occupied by Sheffield Airport. The iconic building helps manufacturers to conduct research into flexible manufacturing processes for high-value components and one-off parts for customers from a wide range of sectors.

As part of his visit, The Duke of York was given a tour of the factory by Ben Morgan, Head of the AMRC’s Integrated Manufacturing Group, which is based in Factory 2050. Mr Morgan demonstrated the work being done by the AMRC to enable robots to accurately machine holes in composite aircraft components - a project which has matured into a production system and is on track to save BAE Systems millions of pounds in capital and operational costs.

(l-r) Mr Ben Morgan, Head of the AMRC Integrated Manufacturing Group takes HRH The Duke of York on a tour of the AMRC Factory 2050.

The Duke of York also saw how robots are being used for high-accuracy, flexible machining applications, and also had the opportunity to experience the latest cutting-edge mixed reality technologies being used to improve assembly, construction and manufacturing processes.

After the tour, The Duke of York unveiled a plaque commemorating the opening. The Royal Family are long-time supporters of the work of the AMRC. The Duke of York also opened the AMRC Rolls-Royce Factory of the Future in 2008 and the AMRC Training Centre in 2014.

HRH The Duke of York unveils a plaque at the official opening of the AMRC Factory 2050 using a KUKA IIWA collaborative-robot or ‘cobot’.

Executive Dean of the AMRC, Professor Keith Ridgway, said: "Factory 2050 is an important part in the future development of the AMRC which is hugely significant for both the Sheffield City Region and the UK.

"It will keep us at the forefront of manufacturing technology and is a beacon for the Region - hopefully attracting young people to careers in manufacturing.

"It is an absolute honour to welcome HRH The Duke of York to officially open this exceptional facility."

During his visit, HRH The Duke of York said: “The AMRC is a very important part of the UK’s industrial landscape. It has developed over the last 15-20 years from a gleam in the eye and is now at the forefront of research in a whole range of areas.

“I would like to congratulate everyone who has done such a lot to build what is a world class establishment doing some fantastic research. I’ve watched the AMRC grow over the years - I’ve even opened one or two of its buildings - so it’s a great pleasure to be officially opening Factory 2050.”

Speaking at the opening, the University of Sheffield’s Provost and Deputy Vice Chancellor, Professor Shearer West, said:

“We are very proud of this new addition to the AMRC's world-class facilities. Factory 2050's landmark building complements the state-of-the-art technology within - which will help to further revolutionise the UK’s manufacturing sector. "I am delighted to welcome HRH The Duke of York to our facility, which is named The Duke of York Factory 2050 in his honour."

Head of Integrated Manufacturing Group at Factory 2050, Ben Morgan, said:

“The work taking place at Factory 2050 is at the cutting edge of manufacturing research and we're extremely privileged to be able to demonstrate this to The Duke of York on his visit here today.”

The University of Sheffield’s AMRC has grown to include over 90 industrial partners from sectors such as aerospace, medical, automotive and construction and has become a worldwide model in how to conduct collaborative research to develop new manufacturing techniques and technologies.

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