AMRC in partnership with CBE+ uses virtual reality to rationalise complex manufacturing processes

(Image and partial content courtesy of ARMC, University of Sheffield)

CBE+’s Electroless Nickel Division NiTEC UK Ltd recently embraced Virtual Reality technology to design the layout of its new Electroless Nickel Plating facility, part of a complex manufacturing portfolio thanks to support from The University of Sheffield AMRC.

AMRC CBE+

The business approached the AMRC for help designing the physical layout of its operations and to optimise a complex range of production processes.

Chris Brown, Managing Director at CBE+ Group, said: “The AMRC supported us to create and navigate around a new space using virtual reality. It’s a useful way to do it – as you can imagine, if you had to start pouring concrete in the ground and building the new layout in order to test it, the whole thing would be cost prohibitive.”

Dr Phil Yates, Project Manager at the AMRC, said: “The markets and the complexity of what they make has grown enormously at NiTEC. They now manufacture products for several different sectors from performance automotive to the military.

“To optimise their complex range of processes, we first mapped out the various products into families, grouping these together to explore options for the layout, as well as the chemistry of their production. We analysed a range of data and used a virtual reality simulation to come up with the optimal solution – this wasn’t just about their shop floor, this project looked at rationalising every element of their manufacturing processes.”

Chris Brown added: “This work has ended up going in a new direction, after a pause due to Covid-19, and we’re now looking at bringing in robotics to achieve the outcomes we want to see. Our work with the AMRC helped us identify the best way forward for our business, in a relatively cost-effective way.

“The outcome hasn’t been what we necessarily expected at the outset, but that’s part of the reason it’s useful to work with an organisation like the AMRC – to explore what is possible.”

The AMRC, as part of the High Value Manufacturing (HVM) Catapult, supports businesses to explore technology they wouldn’t otherwise have access to. The project was paid for using funds from the HVM Catapult as part of a commitment to working with small and medium-sized enterprises.

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The NiTEC move to CBE’s headquarters Enterprise Drive is well underway with completion by Spring 2022. Follow our social media channels as developments unfold.