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Posted: Nov 01, 2011
World leading centre of excellence in vibrometry to be established at University of Leicester
(Nanowerk News) The University of Leicester has been allocated £1.07 million towards a £5.6 million hi-tech project supporting and impacting advanced engineering and manufacturing automotive, aerospace and space industry sectors.
As announced by the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, the University of Leicester has been successful in the second round of the Government's £1.4 billion Regional Growth Fund (RGF) which will support 119 bids from businesses and local partnerships with projects to expand their operations, create new jobs and attract private investment.
The University, with its industrial partner – Polytec UK - will establish an Advanced Structural Dynamics Evaluation Centre ( ASDEC), the UK's first commercial 3D laser (non-contact) vibration scanning measurement and modal analysis centre, offering the first modelling and certification services in Europe. It will create more than 250 knowledge based engineering jobs.
The facility will use a robot with laser technology to analyse and assess the design, parts and components of products from the automotive, aerospace and space industries. This will save time and costs in the production processes by analysing in advance whether design and vibrating parts of a machine are optimised.
The facility is a highly specialised resource to support many more developments of new products and processes. It will provide reliable, quick turnaround, cost effective, synthesized system-level models to accurately predict the most optimum design solutions for whole engineering components ranging from nano-actuators, aircraft fuselage sections, and to structures such as the vibration comfort of a complete vehicle, the fatigue resistance of an aircraft landing gear, or the structural integrity of an innovative aircraft or satellite design.
Industry is continuously looking for ways to reduce costs, introduce innovative designs, new and lighter materials, to make their products more profitable, environmentally sustainable, to cultivate strong brand values and open new markets. The calls for a high performance development process – with high throughput and high precision and a process that delivers the right products – designed right first time. A good example of need is in the automotive sector, where cars need to become quieter with the introduction of hybrid fuels. ASDEC will provide automotive engineers noise reduction solutions leading to product improvements and cost savings.
Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leicester, Professor Bob Burgess, is a Board member of the Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership, created to boost the economy and bring jobs to the city and county. He said: "This project illustrates the impact world-class University research can have on the success of industry, delivering the benefits of international quality work to the region and great partnerships working with support from many local, regional and national partners including the Leicester and Leicestershire LEP."
Professor Kevin Schurer, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Enterprise, said: "The establishment of the ASDEC facility will enable the University of Leicester to work with, and enable companies to access, a highly specialised resource to support many more developments of new products and processes using technology and expertise currently unavailable in the UK.
"ASDEC will deliver innovations, cost savings, competitive advantage and new routes market to UK industry. The facility will act as a catalyst and an entry point for the University for a broad range of additional services around the core testing and advanced modelling services.
"It will enable partners to evaluate the dynamic response of structures for mechanical design, certification, lifetime monitoring, damage assessment, and forensics. The Centre will develop and provide innovative solutions using latest technologies, methodologies and materials."
Expertise that companies can access through ASDEC will be derived from the Departments of Engineering, the Space Research Centre in the Department of Physics and Astronomy and the Department of Chemistry. The academic lead for the project at the University of Leicester is Professor Sarah Hainsworth, Professor in Materials Engineering. She said: "This is very important development for the University of Leicester. It makes it possible for us to work with more companies interested in innovation and growth; and for them to have access to the world-class expertise at the University of Leicester and the partners who have been behind this bid.
"The creation of a world leading centre of excellence in vibrometry will help the region to build and grow the knowledge economy while developing high level skills through graduate internships, knowledge exchange and technology transfer activities."
The project bid was spearheaded by the University's Enterprise and Business Development team. Anjuu Trevedi, Head of Regional Business Engagement, said: "This project is a really fantastic example of effective industry-university partnerships, a marriage between university expertise and business needs."
Adrian Harrison, MD from Polytec UK said: "This project represents a unique opportunity for the University of Leicester, the Region and the whole of the UK Engineering and Automotive Industries to gain access to world leading technology in the field of Vibration Measurement and Analysis. It is a project which Polytec Ltd and their parent company Polytec GmbH are very pleased to be supporting and involved with."
Andrew Bacon (LLEP Chairman) said: "I'm delighted that the Government is supporting this cutting edge scheme that will create jobs and show how Leicester and Leicestershire are leading the way in innovation."
The successful bids are subject to legal checks before they can be awarded their final allocation of funding. This will establish whether the Government is confident that the organisations can deliver on the proposals in the bid and be agreed through contract. The Government expects the money to start being passed on to the bidders in the spring.