Monday, 10 December 2007

Meeting monday, wind turbines and robots

A Monday full of meetings today. First a meeting of Heads of Departments with the Vice-Chancellor and Senior Management Team. Much of the discussion centred around progress with achieving some of the goals he outlined in his first HoDS meeting soon after he was appointed a couple of months ago. Progress is being made on transparency, changes to the organisational structure, ownership of financial planning, reducing bureaucracy and realigning the professional services to work within the new structure. We also discussed longer-term strategy, FEC (Full economic costing), and sustainability.

This was followed by Admin Team, and we began with a presentation about the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC). The AMRC is based in the Advanced Manufacturing Park (down the Parkway towards the M1). It was formed by Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Keith Ridgway, and is a hugely successful enterprise, with partners including Boeing, Rolls Royce and BAE Systems. Their Factory of The Future is due to open in a few weeks time, and will provide a sate of the art facility for technologies to be developed and implemented with a zero carbon footprint. The facility will have two wind turbines, and a ground source heat pump amongst other energy saving and conserving features. Colleagues in CiCS have been working with the AMRC to provide them with data and voice connections to the main University campus. I’m not an engineer, nor have I ever found engineering particularly interesting, but I was fascinated by the research and development being undertaken there. Because the equipment is state of the art, and the same size as used in industry, partners don’t have to scale up any processes. Research into machining can drastically reduce the time taken to produce components- one example reduced production time from 54 minutes to 90 seconds. They are also looking at robots – used extensively in manufacturing – but apparently they aren’t very accurate so AMRC are looking to make them more accurate. It was suggested they could practise on MFI flatpacked furniture for a real test of how good they are!

Estates Strategy Advisory Group then reviewed all existing and proposed capital projects – I’ll do another post about this and the potential implications when these are finalised.

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