GKN Aerospace becomes tier one member of UK’s Manufacturing Technology Centre

The company joins other major U.K.-active aerospace manufacturers, including Airbus and Rolls-Royce.

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GKN Aerospace (Redditch, Worchestershire, U.K.) reported on Jan. 23 that it had become a "tier one" member of the U.K.’s Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC, Ansty Park, Coventry, U.K.). At the Centre, the company joins other major U.K.-active aerospace manufacturers, including Airbus UK (Filton, U.K.) and Rolls-Royce (London, U.K.). Founded in direct response to the U.K. government’s national manufacturing strategy, MTC aims “to prove innovative manufacturing processes and technologies in an agile environment, in partnership with industry, academia and other institutions.”

As a leading producer of complex metal and composite structures for the aerospace sector globally, GKN Aerospace reportedly views the MTC as a valuable means of strengthening and informing its research into novel automated assembly technologies. Says Rich Oldfield, the company's director of technology, “The MTC will function as a valuable focal point for U.K. industry as we explore new automation techniques and technologies. It will enable members to draw on expertise from across many U.K. manufacturing sectors and from academia.”

“For the U.K.’s aerospace sector — globally the strongest national aerospace capability after the USA — the MTC will provide support as we work together to extend our share of a growing and dynamic international civil aerospace market," Oldfield continues. "To achieve our goals, we must be able consistently to deliver aircraft structures that are lighter, quieter, swifter to manufacture and less wasteful of raw material than our competitors' internationally. Effective automation throughout manufacturing and assembly is key to this.”

GKN Aerospace is involved in a number of core MTC projects that address (among other subjects) robotics, advanced tooling, near-net-shape technologies and advanced metrology. For example, the MTC is conducting advanced metrology trials on novel optical techniques, using a wing rib manufactured at GKN Aerospace – Filton. The techniques under trial have the potential to significantly reduce the costs and time associated with the vital task of measuring complex aerostructures to ensure they meet the specified demanding tolerances.

The MTC has been established to prove innovative manufacturing processes and technologies in an "agile environment in partnership with industry, academia and other institutions." The MTC is intended to provide a high-quality environment for the development and demonstration of new technologies on an industrial scale, providing a unique opportunity for manufacturers to develop new and innovative processes and technologies in a low-risk environment.

The areas of MTC’s technology focus are appropriate to both large and small companies and are applicable across industry sectors. Founder industrial members of the MTC are Rolls-Royce, Aero Engine Controls and Airbus UK, and members now include manufacturing companies from multiple sectors. Research partners include the University of Birmingham, the University of Nottingham, and Loughborough University.

GKN plc is a global engineering group with four divisions: GKN Driveline, GKN Powder Metallurgy, GKN Aerospace and GKN Land Systems, which operate in the automotive, aerospace and land systems markets. Approximately 47,000 people work in GKN companies and joint ventures in more than 35 countries.

For further information, please contact Sandra Fearon, GKN Aerospace's public relations manager for aerospace, Tel.: +44 (0)1983 283649; E-mail: sandra.fearon@gknaerospace.com.