Safety challenge for portable machine tools

The Nuclear AMRC has helped Rolls-Royce demonstrate that portable machining technologies can make nuclear manufacturing more flexible and cost-competitive while meeting industry health and safety standards.

portable machining handsonRolls-Royce is investigating a “process-to-part” approach, which uses portable machine tools to work on large and unwieldy components and assemblies. Using portable tools in place of conventional large machine tools can potentially reduce capital equipment costs by at least half, while improving flexibility during manufacture.

In research supported by the Civil Nuclear Sharing in Growth programme, Rolls-Royce is developing and testing a fleet of portable machines in the Nuclear AMRC workshop. These machines have been adapted from commercially available equipment, primarily used for repairs in the oil and gas sector, and capable of tasks such as weld preparation, drilling, flange facing and milling.

For nuclear applications, the machines have been modified to add higher levels of controllability, robustness, accuracy and safety. The trials have shown that the portable tools can reduce lead times, eliminate bottlenecks, remove the need to lift large and heavy components close to the end of the manufacturing process, and reduce capital investment in machine tools.

“All of that will allow us to be more responsive in meeting customer requirements,” says Tom Robinson, civil nuclear manufacturing engineer at Rolls-Royce. “This is not a new technology to Rolls-Royce, but what’s novel here is that we are bringing them into a modern production environment with modern health and safety practices, to ensure we meet our customer requirements and ensure timely delivery of components.”

portable machining Flange_FacerThe Nuclear AMRC machining team worked alongside Rolls-Royce and the machine suppliers to develop robust and novel fixturing and guarding solutions, ensuring that the machines can be used safely, and applied dynamic analysis to increase the machining speed.

“The main challenge when developing this kind of technique is to modify the equipment to meet the more demanding health and safety requirements of a continuous in-house manufacturing environment,” says Mikael Thery, Nuclear AMRC programme manager. “Our engineers introduced innovative tooling solutions to deliver a simple process, giving large savings in process time and producing features right first time.”

Rolls-Royce is continuing to develop the tools in collaboration with the Nuclear AMRC and suppliers.

The Civil Nuclear Sharing in Growth (CNSIG) programme is supported by the Regional Growth Fund, and aims to develop the UK manufacturing supply chain for the global civil nuclear market. As well as industry-led research and development, CNSIG includes intense business development for 10 key suppliers.

  • To find out more about our latest collaborative R&D and how we’re helping businesses through CNSIG, download our Q1 newsletter.

New to nuclear

Wednesday 4 March, Ashford, Kent.

F4N newsThe Nuclear AMRC and Manufacturing Advisory Service present an introduction to manufacturing opportunities in the civil nuclear sector, including details of how companies can access support and funding through the Fit For Nuclear programme.

In the latest of a series of regional briefings, Nuclear AMRC and MAS experts will explain how manufacturing SMEs can measure their capabilities and performance against the requirements of the civil nuclear sector, and access grant funding to help them close any gaps and enhance their competitiveness.

For more information and to register, visit the MAS events page.

Upcoming F4N briefings include:

For more information, contact

Nuclear AMRC helps Hayward Tyler share in growth

Hayward Tyler, a specialist manufacturer of high-integrity pumps which this year celebrates its 200th anniversary, is growing its global footprint with the support of the Nuclear AMRC.

HT futureBased in Luton, with facilities in Scotland, China, India and the US, Hayward Tyler is a leading supplier of electric motors and pumps for the most demanding applications.

“Nuclear is absolutely a sweet spot for Hayward Tyler,” says Ewan Lloyd-Baker, chief executive officer. “We provided the first pumps to Calder Hall in 1956, and recently won civil nuclear contracts in South Korea and Sweden, so we have a long pedigree of installed equipment. However, we should be developing our presence more in the sector.”

The company has undergone a major turnaround over the past three years, and is now targeting global opportunities in new nuclear with the support of the Nuclear AMRC’s Civil Nuclear Sharing in Growth (CNSIG) programme. The group currently generates around 15 per cent of revenues from nuclear, but sees significant scope for growth.

“The opportunity is to leverage the improvements we’ve made here to our processes and people, and say we are fit for nuclear. We’re looking at investment now, supported by CNSIG and Fit For Nuclear, not just for the UK supply chain but for us globally,” Lloyd-Baker says.

The CNSIG programme, led by the Nuclear AMRC with funding from the government’s Regional Growth Fund (RGF), is an intensive business development programme for key members of the UK’s manufacturing supply chain.

To help prepare for CNSIG, Hayward Tyler first entered the Fit For Nuclear (F4N) programme to identify gaps in the business’s performance.

“We did F4N so we could benchmark ourselves,” says special projects director Larry Redmond. “It made us ask the questions that we had tended to avoid, and gave us a checklist for everything we need to do – we keep coming back to it and saying what is the gold standard?”

HT todayHayward Tyler’s Luton factory is now undergoing a major expansion and upgrade, supported by a separate £3.5 million RGF grant. The redevelopment, which will complete in July 2016, will extend the workshop by over 40 per cent and create five focused zones based on lean manufacturing methods.

“We’ve done a lot with methods like 5S to make things good, but it hasn’t yet taken it world-class,” says Redmond. “What we’re doing now is combining the support we’re getting from RGF with what we’re learning through CNSIG – that’s started to give us world-class facilities, world-class processes, world-class people and world-class products.”

The factory development is led by manufacturing systems director Martin Clocherty. “The biggest value I’m getting from CNSIG is how to design and implement a nuclear-compliant facility,” Clocherty says. “There was a knowledge gap there, but the guys have absolutely filled that for me. If I have any doubt about anything, I can go to them and get an answer.”

CNSIG is also helping Hayward Tyler train its workforce to nuclear standards. “Historically, there had been legislative and compliance training, with limited opportunities for additional people development activities,” says Sue Henshaw, learning and development manager. “Funding was part of that problem, which is where CNSIG has massively supported us. The CNSIG team is also supporting with specific development interventions where their expertise is invaluable in preparing ourselves for nuclear bids.”

Working with the Nuclear AMRC has brought the team other benefits, such as the opportunity to meet EDF Energy’s top-tier suppliers for Hinkley Point C. “One thing that we couldn’t get from outside is the access to the market,” says Redmond. “The networking is a bit of an intangible, but being able to get into a room with Areva and EDF is not something you can do easily.”

“The great thing about CNSIG is it’s enabled us to look at what’s happening in the wider world and feel we’re part of something that is big and very exciting,” Lloyd-Baker concludes. “When you work hard on a day-to-day basis to be part of the development of the next generation of civil nuclear new build, there’s a real sense of pride in being able to do that.”

Nuclear AMRC to support aerospace alloy development

The University of Sheffield AMRC will lead a new £6 million European-funded project to develop an advanced lightweight alloy for the aerospace industry.

aero bladesThe MMTech project involves manufacturers and research institutions from across Europe, including two small companies from the Sheffield city region’s advanced manufacturing cluster.

The project will develop new ways of working with an advanced material called gamma titanium aluminide. The Nuclear AMRC will work alongside its sister centre, the aerospace-focused AMRC with Boeing, to apply techniques such as laser cladding to the alloy.

“Titanium aluminide is very light and strong, particularly at high temperatures, which makes it a very attractive material for aeroengine components,” says Professor Keith Ridgway, executive dean of the University of Sheffield AMRC. “Unfortunately, it is notoriously difficult to use. This project will examine new powder production methods, and new casting, machining and 3D printing techniques.”

The research consortium includes two Rotherham-based SMEs – precision engineer Advanced Manufacturing (Sheffield) Ltd, and technology development specialist Teks Sarl Ltd – as well as industry partners from France, Italy and Spain.

The project will also involve specialist researchers at the University of Strathclyde and Imperial College London in the UK, and Mondragon University and the IK4-Ideko research centre in Spain.

MMTech is funded (pending due diligence) by the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 programme for industry-led research and development. AMRC has previously led European-funded projects to develop innovative technologies including metals additive manufacturing for aerospace, environmentally-friendly manufacturing techniques for composites, factory design and advanced assembly technologies.