Within the fast-moving 21st century global marketplace, retailers, wholesalers and consumers are demanding a greater variety of products more quickly and at the lowest possible cost. Concerns about the environment are also requiring companies across all sectors to be more accountable and socially responsible, particularly in waste management and reduction.
The overall aim of the course is to advance your abilities within the area of production engineering and operations management so you can assist manufacturing companies to meet these demands head on – achieving competitive advantage and making an impact on profits and sustainability.
We will encourage you to systematically and critically evaluate engineering design and process choices around materials, production technologies and production processes. You will then design solutions to complex production engineering and operations management problems using 3D computer solid modelling and the latest industry standard software, interfacing with current leading production machines.
You will study two of the more popular approaches being used to improve manufacturing processes with a view to making companies more productive and cost efficient, namely lean and agile manufacturing. Agile manufacturing is designed to respond to an environment of continuous and unanticipated change, focusing on the ability to generate a rapid response to unpredictable customer demand. It relies on capacity to reduce production cycles and requires the support of innovative staff and suppliers. Whereas lean operations, first adopted by Toyota Motors, refer to the operational techniques used to add value by maximising available resources and reducing wastage.
We also cover some of the latest industry trends around automation techniques, including various robot types, robot programming, programmable logic controllers, sensors, vision systems, motion control, safety systems, and design for manufacture. You will have the opportunity to gain practical experience in on-line and off-line robot programming.
A distinct advantage of our course is its vocational nature. We use real-life case studies and examples from local and regional industries, including automotive, aerospace, mechanical and engineering services and their supply chain. For instance, supply chain optimisation, production enhancement and NPI (new product introduction). You will also have access to our Institute for Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering (AME), which will enable you to put your learning into practice, working on actual problems in partnership with Unipart to find solutions to current and emerging industrial challenges. Recent projects have involved learning about ‘light-weighting’ of automotive components and systems, for example, for high performance exhaust systems and fuel injection systems.
The course culminates with your dissertation, which provides an opportunity to apply the theories and techniques you have learned. It may focus on one area of study or involve a combination of subjects. In the past, students have considered topics such as comparison of industry across global sectors, introduction of ERP (enterprise resource planning) systems, innovation of methods and techniques from one industry sector to another, design of automation or robotics etc. Your project can be industry-based if you are already working or wish to gain an internship style industrial experience during the third semester. For example, solving specific production problems experienced by a company, investigating use of new technologies like 3D-printing, evaluating potential uses of new materials or production techniques or designing new systems or components for efficiency. With the programme being so closely related with AME, there may also be opportunities for involvement with ongoing UK or EU funded research projects run as part of the Institute’s normal research activities.