Strathclyde deal to bring ‘cutting-edge’ tech to Scottish manufacturers

William Kerr of the AFRC's metrology team with Hexagon equipment. Picture: Contributed
William Kerr of the AFRC's metrology team with Hexagon equipment. Picture: Contributed
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A University of Strathclyde research centre specialising in innovative manufacturing technologies has agreed a new partnership which could unlock big benefits for ­Scottish firms.

The Advanced Forming Research Centre (AFRC) has struck a deal with metrology technology firm Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence that will give its engineers access to “cutting-edge” measuring equipment.

The Hexagon kit, which includes the English firm’s internationally renowned Romer Absolute Arm, is entirely portable, allowing the centre to share the resources with manufacturing facilities across the country.

AFRC claims the deal will lead to “exciting new opportunities for wider industry” in sectors such as automotive, aviation and shipbuilding. Its metrology team will integrate the equipment with the ­centre’s own robotics to increase robot accuracy.

It also plans to address other key areas in this field, including automated metrology, the global positional accuracy of robotic arms and the creation of an innovative machine tool.

The technology is already employed across a number of projects nearing the industrialisation phase.

In return, Hexagon will gain access to the AFRC’s business network, which includes ­manufacturers and tech ­companies such as Rolls-Royce and Virtalis. Danny McMahon, AFRC ­senior manufacturing engineer and metrology team lead, said: “Access to this pioneering technology marks an ­evolution in our ability to help ­manufacturers in their own facilities.

“It can really benefit a ­production facility in sectors such as automotive, aviation or shipbuilding, checking for defects or measuring and inspecting large parts.

“This equipment is a large investment for small and medium-sized companies and so we’re sharing resources and making it as accessible to firms across Scotland of all sizes.

“We are also looking to ­integrate metrology with robotics, creating a highly accurate machine tool that has highly efficient measurement capabilities.”

Tim Gears, business development engineer at Hexagon, said: “We’re delighted to be working with the AFRC as it will strengthen our knowledge and capabilities, while enhancing our ability to support small and medium-sized businesses to help them grow, develop new products and overcome production issues.”

He added: “We will keep the AFRC updated with the very latest Hexagon kit.”