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Rochdale advanced machinery institute wins £50k funding

13 August, 2020

Plans to create an Advanced Machinery and Productivity Institute (AMPI) in Rochdale, Greater Manchester, have been brought a step closer after securing £50,000 early-stage funding from the UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) Strength in Places Fund (SIPF). The aim of the institute is to drive innovation among advanced machinery manufacturers, and it is predicted to generate around 660 direct and 530 indirect jobs.

AMPI is one of 17 projects that have been awarded seedcorn funding of up to £50,000 to develop bids for full-stage awards. Some of them will go on to receive funding of up to £50m.

Centred on existing capabilities in the North of England, AMPI will be a partnership between the National Physical Laboratory (NPL), which is leading the initiative, Milnrow-based PTG Holroyd Precision, the Universities of Huddersfield and Salford, and the Rochdale Development Agency. The institute will provide the technical resources and skills needed for advanced machinery innovation to flourish, and to deliver a sustainable impact on the local economy and UK exports.

If it goes ahead, AMPI will involve more than 40 companies in the region, with more being added nationally. The aim is to promote innovation in advanced machinery manufacturers, building economic growth in the design, development and manufacture of the advanced intelligent machinery, robotic and cooperative systems.

“The AMPI initiative is a direct response to the need for the UK to improve its productivity,” explains the NPL’s head of engineering, Paul Shore. “AMPI will support UK companies in developing machinery and automation products. It is these intelligent production systems that will facilitate UK productivity improvement through greater digitisation and automation within our future manufacturing landscape.”

Tony Bannan, CEO of Holroyd and Precision Technologies Group, has long campaigned for the creation of an institute in Rochdale to tackle the skills gap facing manufacturers. “Our ambition is for AMPI to become a practical, accessible and potentially transformative resource for regional and national manufacturing companies – of all sizes,” he says. “If your company needs machines, new technologies, advanced processes or integrated systems to make your products, or if you need targeted innovation and skills to improve productivity and competitiveness, then AMPI will help you.”

An artist's impression of the planned Advanced Machinery and Productivity Institute in Rochdale

UKRI’s Strength in Places Fund is a pathfinder programme that invests in projects aimed at boosting research and innovation capacity in specific regions of the UK, thus driving economic growth in those regions. Other projects that have attracted funding include:

• the Centre for Sustainable Advanced Manufacturing (CESAM), led by the University of Sunderland, aimed at creating more and better jobs in North East England by expanding smart and sustainable advanced manufacturing. Located at the International Advanced Manufacturing Park in Washington, it will tackle the difficulties associated with introducing digital and manufacturing innovations across supply chains and into fast-moving production environments. The Centre will focus initially on four areas: sustainability; additive manufacturing; robotics and artificial intelligence; and digital manufacturing. Its supporters include Nissan, Komatsu and Cummins.

• the Supply Chain 4.0 Southeast Midlands Hub of Excellence, led by Cranfield University, which plans to offer logistics and supply chain expertise to companies in the region and to provide a testbed for new ideas to improve their supply chain processes and operations by adding automation to logistics and supply chain processes. It will also use predictive analytics to match supply with demand, align operations to cope with batch-size one, and apply technologies such as: drones and autonomous robots for last-mile delivery; augmented reality for warehouse operations such as order-picking; and algorithms for designing distribution centre layouts.

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