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Reducing the environmental impact of construction equipment with inspiration from the aerospace industry and composites

Reducing the environmental impact of construction equipment with inspiration from the aerospace industry and composites

Every construction company should be looking to leave the surrounding environment as untouched as possible during projects. For some sectors however, that goal poses significant challenges. The forestry industry is a good example of this, where delicate work is constantly done in direct proximity to living ecosystems. Keeping the environment as free from any impact as possible is particularly challenging when you consider the size and weight of the machines in use. When heavy machinery is placed, or is in operation on soft ground, it risks damaging the soil, and can lead to an increase in accidents. Higher fuel consumption resulting in more emissions is also a concern.

Looking at the aerospace sector, there are obviously no fueling stations at 10,000 meters, so aircraft designers must find ways to reduce the ‘multiplier effect’ of the plane’s weight plus the weight of the fuel needed to keep them airborne for periods of many hours. The lighter the aircraft is, the less fuel it will burn and the fewer emissions it will produce.


Alternative materials

Changing materials used and reconfiguring the balance are two areas being looked at within the aerospace industry. In fact, manufacturers have already started along the journey by switching from steel to titanium on many areas of the aircraft’s structure. As a superior metal, titanium is more resistant to corrosion than steel; it also fares better against alkalis and other environmental conditions. Perhaps most importantly however, is that it is 56% less dense and therefore lighter than steel, (4.44g/cm3 compared to 7.85g/cm3). It is not all good news though: titanium is much more expensive than steel, meaning the cost may be too high to use it extensively as an otherwise beneficial substitute.

Manufacturers are also making extensive use of compositematerials such as epoxy resins, glass fibre, and carbon fibre amongst others. Their use is equally applicable to a range of parts from major structural items such as wings and the fuselage, to many of the myriad of smaller components all over the aircraft. Even with small parts their sum effect is a lighter, more fuel-efficient assembly.

Perhaps the most cutting-edge technology of all right now is additive manufacturing, where precise 3D parts are printed from various materials. The 3D printing process allows engineers to optimise the design of each part for each aircraft; this can help significantly when it comes to achieving overall weight reduction. One case study shows fuel nozzles that were once made up of 18 parts welded together. Once they were printed as a single part, a 25% reduction in weight was achieved. Whilst this study showcased the tremendous potential of 3D printing, it is worth acknowledging that the final weight saving may not be this extreme. This is because of several factors: not only is the process still being proven in terms of the material properties, but some parts are well optimised and aligned with existing manufacturingtechniques. Because of this, not every part is going to present the same opportunity for saving weight.


Methodology for lighter, more efficient aircraft

To lighten the load on any one part of an aircraft, traditional and non-traditional methods are being examined to achieve better weight division. Much as forestry machines add more wheels or adapt their tracks to distribute weight more evenly to avoid unnecessary soil damage, aircraft must adhere to tarmac loading standards. Regulations state how much weight per wheel is allowed, keeping aircraft from damaging the critical surface on which they take off, taxi and land.

In pursuit of a more energy efficient strategy, conventional approaches to system design are being challenged, for example the older aircraft utilised centralised hydraulic systems to power their operations. Pipes lead from the centre and ran through the entire aircraft to deliver fluid power and actuation to any area that required it.

New approaches seek to divide the hydraulic system into several smaller, localised circuits, each of which achieves the delivery of power to various tasks around the aircraft. The immediate effect and key benefit if this is the removal of any unnecessary piping, resulting in a significant weight saving. Typical aircraft traditionally used three main hydraulic systems, but we are seeing an increasing trend towards the removal of one of them, with their functionality being replaced by electrically controlled ‘power packs’. This again can reduce the equipment weight as well as a reduction in the amount of hydraulic fluid used which correspondingly lessens concerns and the occurrence of leaks. However, we must remember that an electrical approach adds the weight of wiring back into the equation.

Because of the vastly different working environments of aircraft versus land-based construction equipment and machinery, the new technology solutions being embraced and adopted by the aerospace industry do not provide a completely transferrable ‘one size fits all’ methodology. The best practices of new aircraft can be inspiring for construction machinery applications: lightweight materials applied to certain parts and the switch from hydraulic to electrical systems are solutions that can make a major difference and ensure future construction equipment is both lighter and more energy efficient while still maintaining its overall durability and effectiveness –   29TH APRIL 2019 – Engineering news

Source | Engineering News

Collaborating with Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC)

Collaborating with Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC)

With the view to establish deeper ties and  business opportunities, the Cluster has arranged to take a small delegation – as guests of the British High Commission –  to the UK from 19 June to visit the Advanced Manufacturing R&D Centre in Sheffield as well as the Composites Centre in Bristol.


The visit will include The AMRC Composite Centre in Sheffield – a state-of-the-art facility for advanced composite manufacturing research and development, based in a dedicated extension to the AMRC Factory of the Future.


In parallel to the AMRC’s legacy expertise in metallic component manufacture, the AMRC Composite Centre is looking at using cutting edge methods to produce ultralight weight components from the newer composite materials. These materials are increasingly used in aerospace, marine, automotive and other high-value industries because they offer high strength and light weight, but they also present a host of manufacturing challenges.


Research focuses on producing and machining composite components, including hybrid parts combining high-performance metals and composites in a single structure. These structures can provide significant weight savings while maintaining the highest material and structural performance, offering improved fuel efficiency for aerospace and other transport applications.


Main research area themes are:
Automated production, Composite machining, Advanced curing and Novel materials and processes


In October last year The University of Sheffield opened three new multi-million pound research centres in the region, with the aim to further boost the city’s reputation as a hub for advanced engineering.


The centres will allow businesses to gain access to university research expertise and test out 4IR technologies such as AI, sensor technology, big data and robotics.


These new research facilities could boost the reputation of the region as being a leader in advanced research, innovation and engineering.


The centres – the Royce Translational Centre (RTC), the Laboratory for Verification and Validation (LVV), and the Integrated Civil and Infrastructure Research Centre (ICAIR) –  are located within the Sheffield City Region’s Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District.


Working with companies to help develop new technologies, the centres will use research to cut costs and lead times which could potentially transform industrial processes and businesses.


The three facilities form part of a £47m investment, part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and the University of Sheffield.


The site is already home to the University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) Factory 2050 – the UK’s first advanced factory, dedicated to conducting collaborative research, component manufacturing and developing machining technologies.


Royce Translational Centre (RTC)

  • The RTC has been set up to evolve novel materials and processing techniques developed by research teams and make them accessible for trial by industry.
  • The Royce Translational Centre is home to [email protected] and the metals research group of AMRC, the National Metals Technology Centre (NAMTEC).

Metron Advanced Equipment Limited, based in Derbyshire, is working with the RTC to produce parts for aerospace and automotive applications from Titanium Aluminides (TiAl) using additive manufacturing.


Laboratory for Verification and Validation (LVV)

  • This facility will enable research into the design and operation of advanced engineering structures when exposed to real-world vibration and environmental conditions. This will allow testing of both full structures (such as automobiles) and substantial components of for example, aircraft and wind turbines.
  • Experimental data, computer modelling and machine learning will allow industry to produce lighter, safer designs for a range of industrial sectors.

LVV has partnered with Sheffield-based Magnomatics, through the Department of Mechanical Engineering’s Dynamics Research Group (DRG), this focuses on testing the vibration performance of their magnetic gear components.


Magnomatics will now be able to use the environmental chambers at the LVV to test under extreme conditions such as temperatures of plus and minus 50 degrees.


Integrated Civil and Infrastructure Research Centre (ICAIR)

  • This facility will enable experimental tests for investigating both underground and above ground constructed infrastructure.
  • It can integrate data, AI, robotics and advanced manufacturing techniques to the field of infrastructure.

ICAIR has worked with Sheffield’s Environmental Monitoring Solutions (EMS) to manage the increased risk of urban flooding caused by climate change.


The AI-based technology called CENTAUR means that sewer flow control systems can be managed at a local level, providing better protection using the same infrastructure.

Source | AMRC

Development of composites in South Africa

Development of composites in South Africa

The South African composites market is relatively mature and offers good potential for composites manufacturing. The Mandela Bay Composites Cluster (MBCC) is a strategic entity for the composites industry at both national and regional levels. Andy Radford, managing director of MBCC, gives us an overview of the Composites market and the mission of the MBCC.

For the full feature of the South African Composites sector created by the Cluster in the latest edition of JEC Magazine, p15 CLICK HERE.

The Cluster has been deliberate in developing a relationship with JEC Group –  the world’s leading company dedicated entirely to the development of information and business connections channels and platforms supporting the growth and promotion of the composite materials industry world-wide.

Source | JEC Composites Magazine

African Advanced Manufacturing and Composites Show has opened its booking system

African Advanced Manufacturing and Composites Show has opened its booking system

The African Advanced Manufacturing and Composites Show (AAMCS) will be taking place on the 27th and 28th of November at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
Secure Prime Exhibition Location, Workshops Seats, Open Stage Opportunity, Factory Tour Passes and National Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Awards & Dinner Tickets

The African Advanced Manufacturing and Composites Show (AAMCS) is Africa’s most comprehensive and dynamic trading and networking platform for technology, products and services in Advanced Manufacturing. It brings together, under one roof, role-players in a highly fragmented sector, over vast geographic distances to foster engagement, collaboration and learning.

for more information

National Advanced Manufacturing awards now open

National Advanced Manufacturing awards now open

Submissions for The National Advanced Manufacturing Innovation awards are NOW OPEN.
Entries close on July 31, 2019.

Make a hassle-free submission by completing the form here

Categories include  A. Scholarly impact in advanced manufacturing, B. Industry advancement in advanced manufacturing, C. Export proficiency in AM, D. Award that acknowledges import replacement, E. Composites floating trophy for displaying innovation and F. Most promising “start- up or newcomer” awards.

CLICK HERE to view video’s of category winners from 2018.

The awards are presented at South Africa’s premier and prestigious networking dinner for roleplayers in Advanced Manufacturing/4IR Technology on November 27 2019 in Nelson Mandela Bay. Books seats to the Awards Dinner and:
•    Connect with the sector’s leading lights in academia, government and industry.
•    Be inspired by African 4IR innovation.
•    Motivate/Reward your teams and or clients with seats to this dazzling occassion.