FOCUS OF OUR RESEARCH
Our manufacturing research lies at the higher end of the TRL scale (5 - 8) and comprises three themes. Specific Manufacturing Processes includes Plating & Coatings, Welding & Joining, Laser Processing and Metal Forming. Enabling Manufacturing Technologies include Robotics and Automation together with Metrology and Quality. Future Manufacturing Technologies includes Industry 4.0, IoT, Big Data and Digital Process Control Systems.
The Laser Manufacturing and Engineering team sits between the materials science and the manufacturing process research; it studies the laser processes needed to carry out laser shock peening, conducts research into changing the properties of thin materials and the surfaces of bulk materials, and looks at the processes required to optimise laser welding. The latter crosses over into research in Welding, Joining and Additive Manufacturing which not only provides the knowledge required to join new or thinner materials but also models joining processes so that understanding the influence of changes in a multitude of joining parameters can be fully understood.
The Future Manufacturing researchers have a successful record of applying novel techniques such as fuzzy logic in the modelling of activity flows in manufacturing processes and of optimising industrial collaboration and accessing services such as energy usage monitoring by effective use of the internet. Our reseachers are now bringing together expertise from around the University to conduct research in modelling all aspects of manufacturing processes and applying a range of sensors to physical processes so that the performance of process against model can be continuously monitored and machines can become more autonomous. These are the cyber-physical systems that constitute what has been branded the 4th Industrial revolution, bringing in demands for processing big data, determining data integrity and ensuring cyber security.
Underpinning all manufacturing processes and ensuring data integrity, reliable metrology is a vital tool in minimising variation in both process and product. The Metrology researchers provide the knowhow and the tools to understand what is influencing manufacturing processes and both measure and understand the outputs so that uncertainties, present in all measurement, can be quantified.
Key to our success at higher TRL levels is our strategic collaboration with Unipart – The Institute for Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering (AME) – which provides an industrial partner with whom to develop proposals for collaborative projects and enables us to access their supply chain and customer base.