West Midlands businesses boost profits with a little help from the virtual world

Manufacturing businesses in the West Midlands now have the chance to try out and test new product prototypes and ideas through virtual simulation technology.

Use of the innovative technology on offer at the University of Birmingham and the Manufacturing Technology Centre in Coventry, will help businesses save time and money with costly repeat experiments which normally go hand in hand with testing new ideas.

The new project called CASiM2 is supported by £2.6 million from the European Regional Development Fund, which is managed by the Department for Communities and Local Government and matched through funding and staff skills by the University of Birmingham, the Manufacturing Technology Centre, Airbus and Rolls-Royce.

Communities Minister Baroness Hanham CBE said:

“In order for businesses to survive and thrive in the current economic climate, new ways of working that save time and money but still gain the results is key. This project will offer businesses the chance to try out new products and ideas in a cost effective, reliable and safe environment. I am pleased that we are able to provide support to a project that will be really beneficial to the future development of businesses in the West Midlands.”

The project will firstly help to raise awareness of the new technology on offer and the benefits it can bring to a business, followed by a demonstration of its capabilities.

Professor Richard Williams, Pro-Vice Chancellor and Head of the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences, from the University of Birmingham, said:

“We are delighted to be driving the translation of our fundamental modelling and manufacturing technology developed at the University of Birmingham into industrial practice through this initiative in collaboration with the Manufacturing Technology Centre and partners. The partnership model encourages the application of frontier science in materials and metallurgical engineering and maximises the speed of adoption. It also enables effective feedback to the academic partners for future research.”

The delivery of CASiM2 brings together public and private sector organisations providing businesses who participate in the project access not only to the technology, but also valuable credibility from leading companies, Airbus and Rolls-Royce.

Stephen Burgess, Rolls-Royce Manufacturing Process and Technology Executive said:

“Advanced computational techniques delivering ‘Virtual Manufacturing’ capabilities continue to be increasingly important to Rolls-Royce as they enable evaluation, optimisation and verification of key manufacturing processes in a fraction of the time and cost of traditional experimental methods.   CASIM2 is a collaborative programme that will deliver essential modelling and simulation capability to UK ‘High Value’ manufacturers and their supply chains.”

Ken Young, technology director at the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) added: 

“The MTC is proud to be working with the University of Birmingham, along with Rolls-Royce and Airbus to deliver the CASiM2 programme which recognises the fundamental role that SMEs will play in reinvigorating the UK manufacturing sector. CASiM2 will accelerate the delivery of high value manufacturing products and processes through the use of advanced simulation methods to underpin this future growth. Through the programme we have a fantastic opportunity to encourage, promote and transfer knowledge on the application of simulation technologies at an industrial level. We will engage SMEs in the West Midlands through demonstrating the commercial benefits of using innovative technologies to deliver step changes in their business offering.”

To find out more about the innovative support on offer, contact: Jonathon Shaw, Business Engagement Manager tel: +44 (0)2476 701649, email: Jonathon.shaw@the-mtc.org or John Woodward, Senior Research Facilitator, tel: +44 (0)121 414 5158, email: j.woodward@bham.ac.uk.