TWI is pleased to announce the creation of the London South Bank Innovation Centre - a pioneering initiative to bridge the gap between academia and industry, and a new platform for Industrial Member research.
Located in TWI's newly constructed world-class facilities just outside Cambridge, the London South Bank Innovation Centre (LSBIC) will be at the vanguard of the development of robotic and automated non-destructive testing (NDT) methods.
Technologies developed at LSBIC will directly benefit TWI Industrial Members, who will be able to adopt new innovations as they are developed. There are potential applications for automated and robotic NDT technologies across a wide swathe of industry - wherever there is a demand for more effective, less costly inspection, and particularly where manually deployed NDT techniques are hazardous or impractical.
The model for LSBIC is based on that of the highly successful Brunel Innovation Centre, a partnership between TWI and Brunel University London specialising in research into guided-wave ultrasonics, which earned £27 million of research grants in its first five years.
The establishment of the new innovation centre represents the beginning of a long-term strategic partnership that will, in its first five years of operation, provide a home for the work of 14 researchers and support eight TWI-funded PhD degrees. Developments will be led by industry, with the needs of TWI's Industrial Members determining the direction of research.
Leading LSBIC will be Professor Tariq Sattar, who will oversee projects that build on the work he has been conducting as head of London South Bank University's Mechatronics, Robotics and Non-Destructive Testing Research (MRNDT) team. Prof Sattar and his team have received a number of plaudits for their previous work, and over the past 16 years have been awarded research income totalling more than ?2 million from collaboration with TWI.
Among the award-winning robots developed by MRNDT are wall-climbing and amphibious prototypes for a diverse range of applications. These include the in-service inspection of walls and floors of oil and petrochemical tanks; the inspection of nozzle welds on the internal walls of nuclear pressure vessels; the inspection of wind turbine blades; and the fabrication of large infrastructure with welding, cleaning and NDT wall-climbing robots.
In 2013 the UK government identified 'robotics and autonomous systems' as one of eight great technologies in which the UK has the potential to become a world leader. The research conducted at LSBIC, and cascaded to TWI Industrial Members, will contribute to the realisation of this ambition.
Professor Tat-Hean Gan, Associate Director of TWI, said: 'I am delighted that London South Bank University has entered into this agreement with TWI to establish the London South Bank Innovation Centre. The collaboration will strengthen TWI's technical expertise in automated inspection, especially for harsh and complex environment applications.
'I hope the new centre will become a financially self-sustaining centre of excellence in its field within two years of its formation. It will accommodate an increase in the number of PhDs relating to automated non-destructive testing - an area of research of crucial importance for the future, when I believe there will be a clear need for robotic non-destructive testing engineers.'
Combining the excellence in research of a university that has won seven awards for industrial innovation for its work in this area, with a global organisation with ties to more than 700 companies around the world, LSBIC unites some of the brightest minds in academia with one of the world's leading research and technology organisations.
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