A large open access innovation and technical support facility for the low carbon energy manufacturing sector is set to increase the turnover of small and medium sized regional companies by over £6m, creating and safeguarding nearly 350 jobs in the process.
TWI's Technology Centre in Middlesbrough has secured £1.67m of funding from One North East to extend the Renewable Energy Manufacturing Technology (REMTEC) initiative. The project is improving the technical capabilities and business competitiveness of North East engineering and manufacturing companies.
Manufacturers for the energy and other related sectors will be able to tap into intensive business support, with assistance ranging from access to specialist support staff to research, development and testing facilities. This will include state-of-the-art specialist techniques such as Reduced Pressure Electron Beam Welding which can halve production costs and increase production speeds by 5 to 10 times.
It will also concentrate on identified areas of opportunity including advanced fabrication of wind towers and foundations, composite fabrication for large wind turbine blades, combustion component coatings for biomass and dual-fired plants, solar energy systems, and anti-fouling coating development.
The project is being part financed by £1m from the European Regional Development Fund 2017-13, matching the £670,000 from One North East's Single Programme, part of Solutions for Business, the Government's portfolio of publicly funded business support to help companies start and grow. Contributions from participating SMEs make up the remainder of the £2m initiative.
'We will give regional businesses access to TWI's world class and leading edge fabrication technologies to enable them to adopt new design and manufacturing methods for the low carbon energy sector, particularly in areas such as off-shore wind power,' explained Terry O'Neill, Associate Director at TWI.
'We have a waiting list of SMEs looking for TWI technology transfer assistance. TWI experts will help these companies with product and process reviews to identify opportunities, exploit innovation and resolve technical problems.
'Companies using this service will benefit from sound technical assistance, effective testing and reports from the accepted world leading authority in the area of materials joining technology - none of which would normally be readily available to them.'
With ERDF funding, the project is set to create 90 new jobs and safeguard 246 others in regional SMEs. It will also generate £6.24m in new turnover and protect existing sector turnover up to £16.4m. Beneficiaries will also have access to equipment and technologies in TWI's centre, for use across established and emerging industry sectors.
One company already to benefit from the project is Cottam Brush, which worked with TWI to explore alternative manufacturing processes for steel wire brushes used in magnetic flux leakage pipeline inspection applications. The objective was to reduce costs and implement new production methods which could be used in product development.
For further information about the REMTEC project, call TWI on 01642 216 320.