Plant & Works Engineering
AMRC inaugurates new £20m digital manufacturing R&D centre
Published:  21 April, 2022

The AMRC has inaugurated its £20m applied research and development facility intended to help the UK’s advanced manufacturing sector to stay at the forefront of global developments. The new AMRC North West facility in Preston, Lancashire will have R&D expertise in areas such as digital manufacturing, 5G, robotics, additive manufacturing, autonomous manufacturing, batteries and low-carbon technologies.

The facility was opened by Lee Rowley, Minister for Industry at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), who hailed it as a key innovation asset for the region and beyond.

“This world-leading hub of research and development is precisely what will keep the UK’s advanced manufacturing sector ahead of the pack,” he said. “Not only will it help businesses unlock key productivity and sustainability gains, it will also drive our ambition to level up across the North West by supporting economic growth and jobs.”

The applied research centre, located in the Samlesbury Aerospace Enterprise Zone in Preston, is part of the University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC). It has been built using a £20m grant from the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership (LEP) Growth Deal and extends the University of Sheffield AMRC’s footprint across the north of England.

The centre will be the primary site for the 5G Factory of the Futureproject, funded by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, which is driving the adoption of 5G technologies in manufacturing through a consortium of industrial and academic partners from the manufacturing and telecommunications sectors.

There are also plans to develop a Low Carbon Smart Building Demonstrator to show manufacturers how new digital technologies can be installed in existing facilities. It will create the road map for manufacturers of all size to cut their carbon footprints by 2030 and achieve net-zero by 2050.

Since 2018, AMRC North West engineers have been operating from an interim facility at the University of Central Lancashire. They have already worked with hundreds of businesses across Lancashire, removing barriers to early adoption of Industry 4.0 technologies to drive growth, productivity and innovation, and support the region’s manufacturers to compete nationally and internationally.

Speaking at the opening of the new centre, Professor Koen Lamberts, president and vice-chancellor at the University of Sheffield, described it as “a huge achievement”.

“By bringing translational research to the doorstep of existing and new industry, we can help to boost productivity and attract more investment to Lancashire,” he said. “The AMRC has a strong 20-year history of working with manufacturers of all sizes to develop greener, more efficient products and processes, and we look forward to working with our partners in Lancashire to support the region’s economic growth.”

AMRC North West was designed and project-managed by architects BDP and was built by Robertsons.