Engineering researcher Dr Rajesh Ransing, from Swansea University, will be getting first-hand experience of industrial practice with a world leading manufacturing company as part of the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Industrial Secondment Scheme.
Dr Ransing is one of only 11 academics from nine British Universities this year who will take up placements with partner organisations in the engineering sector. Dr Ransing’s work on 7Epsilon, which involves process control and productivity/quality improvement for turbocharger wheel production, will be hosted by the Uni-Pol Group. The secondment is financially supported by the Engineering Research Network Wales (ERNW).
The Uni-pol group adheres to the Six Sigma process control methodology, with Dr Steve Leyland – Group Technical Director in the lead, through the implementation of Six Sigma black belt techniques. It uses industry leading simulation tools, best practises for process improvement. With the advent of Computed Tomography (CT) scanning techniques, automotive manufacturers are seeking to reduce both external visual defects and also stricter control of internal defects (Figure 1). In order to maintain Uni-Pols high quality castings, that are currently in parts per million (ppm), these defects need to be minimised or eliminated. Each wheel can take up to two weeks to manufacture using an investment casting process and over two hundred process variables influence the final quality. In addition to casting quality it is also a customer expectation to reduce manufacturing costs up to 6% year on year.
The project is designed to identify the methodology of transforming this data into actionable information. This is an opportunity for Dr Ransing and Uni-Pol to demonstrate the benefits of a methodical approach to the analysis of process control. This level of process control will also guarantee that process improvements will be sustained in the long term so that unforeseen increases in scrap levels do not reduce installed capacity in a leaned out process. Risk based thinking, BIG Data, 7Epsilon and Cyber-Physical Systems are new concepts and the Uni-pol group needs to create first hand evidence on financial savings achieved.
Hosting the prestigious Royal Academy of Engineering Industrial Secondment on 7Epsilon is one of the best opportunities that Uni-Pol have considered. “We get the evidence and Dr Ransing gains experience of the real industrial problems that we face”, says Dr Leyland.
“Addressing cultural issues in foundry industry are equally, if not more, challenging and difficult than solving complex mathematical equations and inventing new theories”, argues Dr Ransing. However, he is confident that the ISO9001:2015 revision of the quality standard, Industry 4.0 and Big Data will change customer expectation and trigger the necessary change.
Dr Ransing added: “This secondment opportunity has allowed me to take time off from teaching duties to gain real insights in the manufacturing world and demonstrate the impact of my research.”
Swansea University has just started offering a new manufacturing option stream within its popular Mechanical Engineering degree scheme. The secondment opportunity also allows Dr Ransing to pass on his knowledge to the next generation of manufacturing engineers.
- The Industrial Secondment Scheme provides an invaluable opportunity for early- to mid-career academics to undertake a collaborative research project in an industrial environment. The scheme aims to strengthen the strategic relationship between the university and the industry host by providing an opportunity to establish or enhance collaborative research between the two parties.
- Royal Academy of Engineering. As the UK’s national academy for engineering, brings together the most successful and talented engineers for a shared purpose: to advance and promote excellence in engineering. We provide analysis and policy support to promote the UK’s role as a great place to do business. We take a lead on engineering education and we invest in the UK’s world-class research base to underpin innovation. We work to improve public awareness and understanding of engineering. We are a national academy with a global outlook.
- Uni-Pol Group is a world leading company in high volume investment casting technology and precision machined components offering a wide range of manufacturing techniques to markets requiring the highest quality, predominantly in the automotive sector, plus aerospace and medical industries. In order to maintain pace with the 9% year on year market growth Uni-Pol Group require a capacity increase from 6 million casting in 2016 to 15 million castings per year by 2020. It has foundries in UK (Polycast Ltd), India, Mexico and China. Uni-Pol offers service excellence to an ever-growing worldwide client base across a diverse market range. Uni-Pol group has built a worldwide industry reputation on reliability, trust and component performance and developed into a major global turbocharger turbine wheel (Figure 1: bottom right) manufacturer to the automotive industry and is now a preferred supplier to many of the turbocharger OEM manufacturers. (http://www.uni-pol.com/)