The University of Strathclyde has claimed a Scottish first with the opening of a state-of-the-art “digital visualisation suite” at its facility next to Glasgow Airport.
The suite, which forms part of the university’s Advanced Forming Research Centre (AFRC), promises a “unique set of capabilities” aimed at companies undertaking commercial research and development work. It is the latest addition to the AFRC’s armoury of industrial scale kit and digital manufacturing capability.
In August, the AFRC secured a £16 million-plus funding boost to set up a site focused on revolutionising the forging process which is crucial to companies across industries including oil and gas, automotive, nuclear and rail.
Businesses across Scotland will be able to access the facility to use the latest forging techniques to develop next generation lightweight metal products.
The “FutureForge” facility is being funded by backers including the UK Aerospace Research and Technology Programme and Scottish Enterprise and will be developed next to the AFRC site at Inchinnan.
Commenting on today’s launch of the digital visualisation suite, Danny McMahon, AFRC’s team lead on digital manufacturing, said: “We’re excited to bring this new capability to the manufacturing sector.
“The whole manufacturing sector is seeing a shift towards digital manufacturing, in line with the industry 4.0 concept, and visualisation plays a crucial role in this. The type of capability we have here at the AFRC can really help manufacturers of all sizes, from all industries embrace digital manufacturing.
“Working on fully-immersive virtual and augmented reality, we create content for companies allowing them to test different scenarios, such as the use of space, changes to the production line and implementing new equipment. This can help significantly in terms of planning and reducing wasted time, effort and money.”
The suite has been designed and kitted out by the centre’s tier one partner, visualisation company Virtalis. Its centre-piece is a large projection system with head and hand tracking system that allows multiple users to view 3D content stereoscopically. The centre also has a portable “Active Move” system that can be taken to industrial premises.
Guenter Dahm, Virtalis Group chief executive, said: “As a supplier of transformative visualisation technology to manufacturers, the valuable network the AFRC creates gives us a forum to discuss the aspirations of industrial leaders and pursue collaborative projects to improve organisational performance and potentially gain competitive advantage.”
McMahon added: “To have Virtalis as a tier one partner in the centre allows us to enhance our capabilities and help more manufacturing businesses.
“The adoption of potentially transformative technologies is a key part of our digital manufacturing strategy. Without doubt it’s going to transform the skills that are required for future engineers.
“It’s very much an exciting time for manufacturing and we’re delighted to be able to help companies prepare for the future.”