£1.9M grant for Universities of Bristol and Bath

The Universities of Bristol and Bath are set to receive part of a £12M grant aimed at improving the manufacturing competitiveness of the UK.

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council is making the awards as part of a £45 million package of investments in manufacturing research announced by David Willetts, Minister for Universities and Science.

Professor Ben Hicks will lead a £1.9 million project called ‘The Language of Collaborative Manufacturing’. Prof. Hicks’ research is aimed at producing a new suite of ICT tools and a ‘next generation project dashboard’ to address major issues in modern engineering projects.

Prof. Hicks commented “Modern engineering projects such as aircraft manufacture operate globally, and involve thousands of engineers and companies. Managing such collaborative, large-scale, high-value engineering projects and the communications within them is complex and risky.

“Companies need to minimise delivery setbacks cost overruns, risk and collapsed projects. Overruns on engineering projects cost the US economy $150 million a day.”

Prof. Hicks and the research team will analyse the relationship between emails and Computer Aided Design (CAD) models, simulations and reports in order to predict the status and performance of a project.

They will identify the successful characteristics of project phases, and create methods to aid the management of intellectual property, and the capture of design records, lessons learned, decisions taken, and rationale to help manufacturing.

As a result the status of engineering projects will be interpreted better, enabling early warning of issues, improved management, increased productivity, and ultimately improve a product’s design and manufacture.

Mark Claydon-Smith, Manufacturing the Future Lead at the EPSRC, said: “Advanced manufacturing is highly knowledge-intensive and ICT has a huge role to play in improving manufacturing intelligence, supporting collaboration, increasing efficiency, speeding up innovation and enabling new business models and technologies.”

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