Updates and announcements from the manufacturing arena

German expansion
DuPont Transportation & Advanced Polymers (T&AP), a global business unit of the DowDuPont Specialty Products Division, intends to extend its High Temperature Nylon (DuPont™ Zytel® HTN PPA) polymerization capacity at Uentrop facility in Hamm, Germany. With this new investment, DuPont confirms its strong commitment to the European market, to address customers’ needs for specialty products and technology services to grow in highly dynamic markets such as automotive, electrical and electronics, consumer and health care.

Adding capacity to the Uentrop line opened in 2016 is a further step on DuPont’s long-term investment strategy to enhance its polymerization and compounding capabilities. Back in 2015, the nylon businesses already announced a ten per cent capacity increase for Zytel® HTN polymer at its Richmond, Virginia, site. In 2017, DuPont T&AP also increased compounding capacity for its high-temperature nylon grades at its Mechelen site in Belgium.

“With manufacturing assets in all regions including world-scale production and compounding sites for its specialty nylons, DuPont T&AP is a reliable global supplier with a strong and balanced regional footprint,” said Thomas Philipon, Global Product Line Manager, DuPont™ Zytel® HTN. “In Europe, our Uentrop site – which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2018 – stands as a flagship example of the business’ commitment to high-quality and consistent product supply for our Zytel® HTN PPA products.”

Totally modern manufacturing
High-tech production plants that ‘think for themselves’, that plan things automatically and that optimise maintenance work through artificial intelligence, might sound like a futuristic sci-fi film, but are fast becoming a reality at Rittal’s manufacturing plant in Rittershausen, Germany.

To produce its new VX25 large enclosure system, Rittal is transforming its production plant ‘on the fly’ into a highly-advanced enclosures factory, populated by welding and handling robots. Half the conversion work has already been completed and the Industry 4.0 manufacturing unit is expected to be finished by 2020. The total investment involved has reached €120 million.

What is happening in Rittershausen is the start of a fully networked factory. “Much of this automation is based on intelligent and networked systems that think ahead, plan automatically and trigger maintenance scenarios,” explains Norbert Peter, Plant Director at Rittershausen. He added: “This way, we can avoid any manual errors and, at the same time, speed things up even more.”

In its ultimate configuration, the new enclosure will ‘grow’ on several profiling systems, each 70 metres long. These profiles form the ‘skeleton’ of the new system and they contain a huge amount of Rittal expertise.

Of the 70 new welding and handling robots, 30 have been moved into the production buildings and are already in operation. The machines to communicate with each other via hundreds of sensors which monitor the fully automatic production processes.

New capability
The University of Strathclyde’s Advanced Forming Research Centre (AFRC) is exploring innovative ways to reduce materials wastage and production time across UK manufacturing, using rotary friction welding. Two rotary friction welding machines, the biggest of their kind in any UK research centre, are bringing a new capability to the centre.

Originally housed in the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) in Coventry; also part of the HVM Catapult network, the 125 and 300 tonne machines, represent an investment in the region of £500K. They will provide efficient, low cost solutions for firms requiring high integrity manufacturing processes in sectors, such as aerospace, automotive and oil and gas.

The centre has already received significant interest in its new rotary friction welding capability from within its network. One of the initial projects using the new equipment will see rotary friction welding used alongside other capabilities at the centre to develop a high performance, high integrity component for aerospace applications. This combination of highly efficient manufacturing techniques will significantly reduce materials wastage and production time.

Dr Laurie da Silva, Research Associate at the AFRC, who is leading the development of this new capability, explains: “Welding is often regarded in the manufacturing industry as an easy place for a material to fail. This, however, isn’t the case for rotary friction welding, instead it generates a very strong, high integrity joint for metallic materials. We’re working with our members and partners on an industrial research programme that will demonstrate the considerable potential of this technology.

“Combining it with manufacturing techniques, such as flow forming, rotary forging and radial forging, we’re aiming to create new hybrid near net shape manufacturing processes for similar and dissimilar alloys. The process is generating lots of interest among our members and partners and presents significant opportunities for our customers.”

Investment for the future
Wednesbury-based manufacturer, Star Precision Tools Ltd, has received a £100k investment to produce new tooling for components needed for Jaguar Land Rover’s (JLR) recently revealed second-generation Range Rover Evoque. The investment, provided by the National Tooling Loan Fund and introduced by Frontier Development Capital, will support a contract to provide a component supplier with the tooling needed for the new Evoque, set to be launched to market in 2019.

The project will deliver ten specialist press tools for manufacturing components to fit in the vehicle’s glass sunroof, as well as the main plastic surround – crucial in reducing damage when the vehicle is crash tested or involved in a collision.

Jayne Bates, Director at Star Precision Tools, said: “Our track record and commitment to delivering bespoke products places us well to serve new tooling requirements. This investment from Frontier Development Capital will help us to support JLR now and in the future, driving the short and long-term growth of the company.”

Boots on the ground
For anyone looking for warm, dry and safe feet this winter, the latest addition to the Scruffs collection – mid-ankle safety boots – offer composite toe and midplate for lightweight flexibility and protection from sole penetration – whatever the weather.

A reliable pair of boots for any time of year, Rapid Safety Boots incorporate Scruffs Dri4Work technology, making them fully waterproof come rain or shine. These boots take the stress of site use without compromise, with Poron socks plus a padded tongue and collar providing extra underfoot cushioning for maximum comfort.

Rapid Safety Boots have a high spec safety rating, providing protection against heat, slips and fuel oil. Keep on the right side of your work mates too with Micro-Fresh technology, which prevents the build-up of bacteria to reduce unwanted odours. With underfoot shock absorption as standard, the Rapid Safety Boot minimises stress on the feet and ankles, so that you can get on with the job at hand without distraction.

News in brief
Class A company
Oliver Wight has announced that its customer, Gilbert Gilkes & Gordon Ltd., has been awarded Oliver Wight’s globally recognised ‘Class A for Planning & Control’ certification. From an organisation held back by a lack of integration and short-term firefighting, Gilkes is now driving forward with its plans, linked strategic objectives, and a clear view of the business over a 24 -month horizon.

“Class A is excellence through people! The drive and passion for change that Class A has engendered amongst our employees has been incredible; it has united our business,” says Andy Poole, CEO of Gilbert Gilkes & Gordon Ltd. “Achieving Class A is the start of our ongoing drive to create a high-performance workplace.”

€200 billion opportunity
Arthur D. Little (ADL) has published a new research report highlighting the need for greater digitalisation in the global telecoms industry. The TIME 2018 Flagship Report outlines the scale of the digital opportunity, with analysis estimating that a ‘digital dividend’ of over €200 billion free cash flow awaits telcos that can successfully transform.

Jonathan Rowan, Partner at Arthur D. Little and lead author of the report explains: “Telcos are self-acknowledged digital laggards, despite our survey highlighting an overwhelming awareness of the benefits of digital transformation. Until now there was little quantitative evidence of these benefits, but our extensive financial analysis highlights that it can deliver up to an additional ten percentage points of EBIT. To enjoy this dividend, telcos must balance technology and organisational/cultural change, as well as adopting an agile and holistic approach.”

Global innovators
The £60m Masdar Building which houses the Graphene Engineering and Innovation Centre (GEIC) has officially opened for business, providing a worldwide focus for the commercialisation of ‘wonder material’ graphene and other 2D materials.

Part of a £300m+ investment in 2D materials infrastructure in the UK city of Manchester – where graphene was first isolated in 2004 – the GEIC’s launch to global innovators included a showcase of existing and future technology, and workshops to demonstrate the incredible potential for products enabled by 2D materials.