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EPSRC Manufacturing the Future Conference

17-18 September 2015, Cambridge UK

Studying at Cambridge


Chair Session Summaries

DAY 1 - 17 September | DAY 2 - 18 September


Industrial Innovation: Processes & Technologies

Chair: Prof Bill O'Neill, University of Cambridge

Nick Weston, Renishaw emphasises the need for developing effective tool chains in manufacturing from design through production to inspection using case studies from additive mfg and neurosurgical robotics. Effective tool chains are essential for capable production systems.

Paul Westbury, Laing O’Rourke:  developing off-site manufacturing capabilities to create kits for bespoke buildings – improved quality – improved project certainty and delivering savings in time and cost. Employing digital tools for full control over design and production activities – digital assets.

Mark Summers, ATI: $5.6 trillion aerospace markets. Aerospace research needs to be aligned to the market. Must identify secure, exploit and deliver technologies. Mfg is a fundamental high-value activity in the UK. Disruptive mfg processes; design and modelling digital info and systems development; integration of solutions – are all key industrial requirements for future aerospace mfg. Engagement through technology advisory structure special advisory groups – academic links.

Industrial Innovation: Manufacturing Systems

Chair: Prof Alistair Florence, University of Strathclyde

Talks from across automotive, aerospace and fuel cell manufacturing  highlighting the challenges of developing manufacturing systems in the light of: new technologies, wide consumer choice, uncertain demands, skills shortages, environmental considerations. The need for rapid change in business models is also a driver.

Each of the presenters highlighted tools, approaches and needs to tackle these challenges, this includes standardised modular equipment, improving efficiency of processes, enhanced fault finding, exploiting long-term collaborations with academia and learning from other sectors. The need for modelling and simulation, skills for new technology areas and materials was also highlighted.

Peter Domeney, JLR | Richard Peart, Intelligent Energy| Andy Harrison, RR

Industrial Innovation: Operations and Networks

Chair: Prof Raj Roy, Cranfield University

Steve Hope from Toyota talked about environmental impact of manufacturing in Europe and Globally.
Toyota takes a ‘whole life-cycle’ approach for their cars.

Andy Carter of Oclaro highlighted role of options and long term development/investment. Volume of data is going to increase 10 times by 2019! Can we continue the rate of technological innovation? Architecture of optic comms products is going to be a major research area.

One of the largest sugar factories is in the UK – Gary Punter from
AB Sugar Innovating  agritech for 200 years! We need stable environment in UK Manufacturing.


Industrial Innovation: Manufacturing Systems

Chair: Prof Mike Jackson, Loughborough University

Dr Jack Gabzydl of SPI Lasers UK ltd told a fantastic story of the journey from university spin out to a world leading future laser manufacturer.

Mark Wilson from BAE Systems  gave a terrific insight into military aircraft manufacturing history through to the present day

Professor Brad Wynne from Materials Technology gave an energetic and informative presentation on titanium alloy forging fast processing and a fine example of collaboration with the HVM Catapult.

Industrial Innovation: Operations & Networks

Chair: Prof Steve Evans, University of Cambridge

The speakers emphasised innovation by using fast experiments making small actions and accessing the widest possible network of collaborators.

Emerging industries & scale-up of emerging technologies

Chair: Prof Jane Jiang,

Andrea Ferrari - Graphene Future Emerging Technology: Gave an overview of the properties of graphene and then moved on to focus on the long lead times associated with new materials technologies. A comparison was made with diamond like carbon, another 2D material, which currently has many high volume applications such hard disc coatings to enable increased storage densities. UK infrastructure for graphene is only just up and running and we should expect to wait 10-15 year before we pass judgement on graphene’s potential. A summary of graphene exfoliation methods was then given, and the point made that the correct one depended on the end application, there’s no such thing as ‘bad graphene’.  Finally some examples of graphene products currently on the market were given.

Stuart Milne - Stay Cool: Introduced Asymtote, a company originally focused on cryogenic solutions for IVF treatment, but applications have now expanded substantially. Regenerative medicine and high throughput screening were focused on as examples of areas where cryogenics can help remove logistical challenges and process bottlenecks which include: cost of goods, scale-up, transport of cells, delivery of therapies, and regulatory compliance. There are however challenges associated with integrating cryogenics into delivery processes which include: Standardisation, validation, need for new equipment and cryoprotectants, viability on thawing, clean room operation.

Finally an overview of the huge potential for autologous cell-based therapies for the effective treatment of cancer was outlined.

Adam Clare (EPSRC High Value Catapult Fellow) - Towards High Value Additive Manufacturing: Describe the purpose of the catapult fellowship, which is to bring additive manufacture into the factory environment, and focused on how it fits into UK manufacturing where products are becoming evermore complex. The fellowship is at an early stage, being four months into the four year running period and is based between MTC and AMRC. An overview of metal powder based AM was given and it was noted that products there are currently products in place in areas such as medical and aerospace. The fellowship will address the current challenges which include: multi-materials, functional grading, in-process alloying, and process integration. Three current research themes being undertaken by the fellow are: process variability and monitoring, materials availability and versatility, and integration into advanced process chains. UK-wide impact was discussed and it was noted that there has been a very large increase in research published on additive manufacturing and this needs to be exploited. The UK is a strong player in additive manufacturing but we must work to protect that status.


Stream Two

Chair: Prof Paul Maropoulos, Aston University

Peter Chivers outlined the global composites growth opportunity and ambitions. He outlined the composites manufacturing clusters that have different rates of maturity (aerospace, construction, oil and gas).

Richard Cook outlined working with businesses at the AMRC, focusing on the scale of operations transforming economies and regenerating the region.

Paul Jennings outlined how energy storage research is applied by various modes of transport. Areas of opportunity include increases by power density and energy density. Battery scale-up and performance testing and characterisation. Modelling simulation battery management and understanding other behaviour are key research areas.

Stream Three

Chair: Prof Nick Medcalf, Loughborough University

Britain getting back into production of nuclear power stations after a gap of about 30 years.

Radical life-changing therapies are being developed that require new business and operational structures that are subject to research alongside the technology.

Green credentials for renewable polymers are achieved with novel manufacturing accompanied by aggressive market-driven research.

Stream Four

Chair: Chris Rider, University of Cambridge

Phil Goodier, CEO of start-up, Plaxia, discussed the commercial challenges of growing his business which takes non-food cellulosic feedstock and turns it into lactic acid which is a starting material for the production of green chemicals.

Adam Kowalsku of Unilevers Strategic Science Group discussed the companies approach to doubling the size of business whilst simultaneously reducing environmental footprint with a focus on reducing the volume of water needed for washing and on bringing products to market more quickly through process simulations.

Ian Noble of PepsiCo (Snack Foods) discussed the challenges of getting consistent products from highly variable food sources under the added pressure of increasing environmental sustainability, improving nutrition and population growth. 


DAY 2 | 18 September


Stream Two

Chair: Iain Todd, University of Sheffield

Tim Foster: CIM as a means of stimulating new thinking within a vital part of the UK manufacturing economy, through listening to industry needs identifying new challenge areas for pre-competitive research.Waste stream management - use of waste in new ways: redistributed manufacture: resource efficiency. Found it interesting that everyone has the same drives but can articulate it in different ways.

Steve Evans: Industrial sustainability - we have to won our own definition of sustainability - an interesting point well put: human behavior business models emerged as barriers to change through the course of Steve's presentation. Do poorly defined cool phrases like "circular economy" help or hinder our understanding and our ability to create our own definition?

Andy Long: The theme of CIMs as an enabler of changes in thinking and key players in setting and driving national strategy emerged again in this talk with sustainability also featuring. as with Tim and Steve the development of new talent came through as a core competence of the CIM.

Stream Three

Chair: Prof Xichun Luo, University of Strathclyde

The UK could further develop the through-life-engineering service through the R&D and IP development.

UK National stratery for through life engineering service industries is necessary and timely.

IE need organisation level link with material and supply to maximise the impact of emergent macromolecular therapies.

Liquid metal research is needed for environment/sustainable development of UK industry in the future.

Stream Four

Chair: Dr John Francis, The University of Manchester

All three presentations generated a lot of interest. In the summary session a number of questions were directed to Prof Chris Rider in particular. However, all speakers were approached with further questions immediately after the session was closed.


Stream Two

Nick Medcalf:  Regenerative Medicine: Nick is an EPSRC Manufacturing Fellow at Loughborough. His talk examined some of the challenges of delivery of high purity autologous cells for human therapy highlighting the need for automation of processing and the increasing for zero operator intervention in this highly regulated industry.

Marc-Olivier:  Nature Inspired Engineering: Marc-Olivier summarised the scope, objectives and achievements of his Frontier Engineering grant which spans biology, process engineering, architecture and materials science. The vision is to learn how nature has evolved to achieve key processes and to adapt these structures and mechanisms to improve engineering driven outcomes including chemical reactions, novel separations and also to devise superior materials.

Robert Harrison:  Knowledge Driven Configurable Manufacturing: Robert works in the WMG and presented a vision for a highly automated manufacturing plant where at-line, real time diagnostics would be made direct to the production operator. Examples were given to show how these kinds of innovations are being deployed on the shop floor to provide a high level of quality control and early fault diagnostics.

Stream Four

Chair: Andy Long, The University of Nottingham

Alistair Florence - Continuous Manufacturing:

  • community of academics and industry
  • complete transformation processes for crystals affects subsequent properties - consistent, scalable processes.
  • electronic lab notebook to facilitate collaboration

Iain Todd - Alloys for resource efficiency

  • material security - discovery, design, understanding
  • multi-disciplinary partnership, multi-scale: length and time
  • automotive: despite materials light weighting, vehicle mass increase

Julian Allwood - Use Less

  • reduce demand for energy and materials
  • global warming - UK emissions growth
  • industry aims at relative improvement but pursues absolute growth
  • understanding of design and manufacture, eg. progress to reuse ink from paper as an alternative to recycling