A consortium of U.K. auto industry companies and related groups wins a £12.8 million ($19.7 million) government grant to create an advanced manufacturing “Proving Factory” to develop processes for the mass production of new low-carbon-emissions technologies.
The goal is to bridge the gap between companies developing new ideas for eco-friendly vehicles and the auto makers that build them by creating prototypes and developing manufacturing techniques that allow the ideas to be transferred to the production line.
The consortium will open a component plant at a formerSteel rolling mill in Brinsworth, 160 miles (258 km) north of London, and an assembly facility in the West Midlands managed by Productiv.
Productiv serves as a conduit between small companies developing leading edge low-carbon technology and large manufacturers. This allows auto makers and suppliers to introduce and validate new technologies at much lower volumes but still at an affordable price.
Having shown that the new technology works and can be manufactured economically by The Proving Factory, the West Midlands plant will make production runs of up to 20,000 individual components to demonstrate to auto makers they can get a secure and steady supply of the new advanced products.
The development is due for completion in 2015, but work on initial projects involving founding partners that include Jaguar Land Rover is to start before the factory is complete.
The government’s grant and loan funding is from the first round of the £125 million ($193 million) Advanced Manufacturing Supply Chain Initiative (AMSCI) that aims to strengthen manufacturing supply-chain projects across key sectors such as the automotive, aerospace and chemical industries.
It has been matched with £9.1 million ($14 million) of private funding.
Vince Cable, U.K. secretary of state for business innovation and skills, says the project won the government grant because supply chains are the lifeblood of industry and are vital in the drive for renewed economic growth.
“The Proving Factory is a clear demonstration of how AMSCI is bringing government and businesses together to overcome barriers in efficiency and expansion, while creating a wealth of valuable new jobs in the increasingly competitive global marketplace,” Cable says in a statement.
The innovative automotive technologies and components that the project will industrialize prior to manufacture will come from six technology developers including Bladon Jets, Flybrid, Torotrak, Drive Systems Design and Libralato.
“The Proving Factory is unique to the U.K. and will help provide the automotive sector with competitive advantage through the industrialization, production and validation of low-volume advanced powertrain components,” consortium spokesman Richard Bruges says in a statement.
It is predicted The Proving Factory will create more than 250 direct jobs and about 1,000 in the manufacturing and engineering supply chain.