A £6 million expansion sees AME focus on unlocking supply chain potential
The UK’s first ‘Faculty on the Factory Floor’ has announced a six-million-pound expansion to accelerate industry’s transition to a clean, sustainable, and digital world.
Coventry University’s Institute for Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering (AME), which was founded in 2014 through a collaboration with Unipart Manufacturing, relaunched yesterday at a special event attended by over 200 domestic and international guests.
The recent changes have delivered nearly 2000 square metres of additional space that is home to state-of-the-art laser welders, six new laboratories, a robotic and testing area, and new digital twin capabilities, thanks to a five-million-pound University investment followed by a one-million-pound grant from the Government’s Local Growth Fund through the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP).
The’relaunch’ caps nearly a decade of success for AME, which has completed over £110 million in R&D and commercial projects for companies such as Aston Martin, Ford, Lotus, and Hyperbat, generating more than £500 million in economic benefits for the UK.
Nearly 175 companies, including OEMs, Tier 1s, and SMEs in the supply chain, have collaborated on projects, and over 400 students have graduated from the unique combination of shopfloor and classroom learning.
Marcos Kauffman, Director of AME and Centre Director of the university’s Research Centre for Manufacturing and Materials, said: “The AME expansion is more than just physical growth of an additional 2,000 square metres; it’s a testament to our unwavering commitment to bridging the skills and R&D gap between academia and industry.
“From our inception in 2014 to today, AME has consistently aimed to be at the forefront of innovative teaching and research with our ‘Faculty on the Factory Floor’ model. This expansion is a beacon of our dedication to nurturing industry-ready talent while also fostering pioneering research that helps solves everyday issues.”
He continued: “We are more energised than ever to open our doors to the wider manufacturing and engineering supply chain in the West Midlands, giving them access to world-class facilities, equipment, and experts. Together, we will support the UK’s collective journey into a clean, sustainable and digital world.”
AME aspires to be at the forefront of the UK’s journey to ‘Net Zero’ and to support business growth in an environment where ideas become reality and the future of sustainable mobility is redefined.
This will be accomplished by training future engineers and researchers and creating an ecosystem that fosters new technologies, supply chain development, and start-up potential.
The latest six-million-pound investment brings the Institute of Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering’s total investment to £18 million, with the most recent facilities including a digital twin pilot environment, a series of physical stations that maximise Artificial Intelligence and Virtual Reality, and dedicated materials, metrology, lasers, functional materials, and chemistry laboratories.
AME has been instrumental in spearheading innovative projects that have significantly improved precision and efficiency in production through cutting-edge manufacturing, thanks to its diverse capabilities.
For example, its expertise has been critical in developing lightweight, environmentally friendly products and methodologies, and it has already assisted in the development of high-volume fuel rails that are now exported from Coventry to China and other parts of the world.
By contributing to the burgeoning sector of electric vehicle battery manufacturing, AME is also committed to advancing the UK’s growing reputation in manufacturing digital systems and laser processing.
Professor John Latham CBE, Coventry University Vice-Chancellor, said: “With this launch, we’re not just unveiling a state-of-the-art facility, but also setting the stage for the next generation of engineers, innovators, and clean technologies.
“AME’s vision has always been about creating transformative solutions for the industry and pressing social challenges. With this expansion, we’re poised to increase our reach and have an even greater impact on students, industry, and the local economy.”
Carol Rose Burke CBE, Managing Director at Unipart Manufacturing, added her support: “We are thrilled about the expansion of the Institute for Advanced Manufacturing & Engineering, a pioneering initiative between Unipart and Coventry University to bridge the gap between industry and academia.
“As the transport sector transitions to EV manufacturing and greener solutions, Coventry University’s latest investment will empower AME to expand Unipart’s expertise and capabilities into new sectors.
“This involves collaborating on R&D with academia and strengthening ties with supply chains – including small and medium-sized firms – all working together to generate business growth.”
In addition to over 200 attendees in person, high-fidelity 3D models of AME’s facilities and equipment were used to create a digital universe known as a metaverse.
This allowed people from over 15 countries to participate in the live event using a digital representation of themselves.
They could move their avatar around a digital replica of AME, remotely participating in physical sessions, listening to presentations, and interacting with other people in the metaverse and at the event.