The 14 meter long MANTRA truck will take to the road with a dedicated team to demonstrate the manufacturing and assembly line technology of the future and help to inspire young people to take up careers in engineering.
MANTRA was established by the University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre with Boeing (AMRC) and funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the private sector and aims to introduce companies to the latest production engineering technology and techniques.
It will also be used to show secondary school pupils how cool engineering can be - using virtual reality assembly and advanced modelling systems. The truck features research on Advanced Machining and Advanced Assembly Technologies – two areas where there is a clear demand from industry.
Researchers from the University of Sheffield have worked with Rolls-Royce to develop ways to achieve more efficient machining. The researchers devised a new rig to reduce vibrations during the process, allowing material to be removed from the casings nearly 20 times faster than usual.
The team also showed that new ceramic cutting tools could work better than existing ones and demonstrated that by using particular machining techniques it is not necessary to employ environmentally damaging chemical-etching methods to achieve the required finish. The findings should directly save the manufacturer more than £1.5 million each year and increase productivity significantly.
Highlights of the demonstration equipment within MANTRA include:
* A fully functioning computerized multi tooled lathe capable of producing complex precision parts precisely machined to tolerances of thousandths of a millimetre. The cutting action is displayed by a special camera on a 60 inch plasma screen.
* Special head gear that allows users to experience interactive three dimensional computer models of complex machinery. Components can even be removed and rotated in three dimensional space using a joystick designed to act like a hand.
The high-tech truck aims to visit more than 400 companies and 30 schools over the next three years.
Atti Emecz, Director of Communications for the EPSRC said, "This demonstrator does two really important jobs. It connects UK industry with the latest tools and techniques to ensure UK manufacturing and engineering remain world class while developing the economy. It will also help to encourage young people to take up career paths that will create the next generation of world class researchers and engineers.
"UK engineering is among the best in the world and MANTRA is an opportunity to illustrate how exciting it can be and to remind everyone of the contribution UK engineering makes to the challenges of the 21st century."
Professor Keith Ridgway, Research Director of the AMRC said, “We are delighted to have received the support of the EPSRC and our industrial sponsors, Boeing, Rolls-Royce and Mori Seiki. It has given us the opportunity to equip the vehicle to the highest possible specification and build in a level of flexibility that will enable us to tailor visits to a wide spectrum of organisations including schools, colleges, SMEs and large companies.”
Sir Roger Bone, president of Boeing UK said, “The technologies being showcased by MANTRA are already making a contribution to Boeing’s products, such as the 787 Dreamliner. We are particularly pleased that the capabilities of the AMRC are being highlighted in this way, inspiring the next generation of engineers and scientists.”
Hamid Mughal, Executive Vice President of Manufacturing Engineering at Rolls-Royce, said, "The development and application of advanced manufacturing technologies is a critical enabler for meeting demanding product and business challenges. The innovative environment and partnership framework of the new Rolls-Royce Factory of the Future will help to accelerate the development of these technologies and, as such, provide ongoing competitive advantage.
"The MANTRA project provides a travelling extension to the Rolls-Royce Factory of the Future allowing a wide-ranging and diverse audience to understand and benefit from the world-class activities of the centre."