Collaboration to help manufacturer win more work in low carbon energy sector

Sheffield University’s Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) is helping Halifax-based Fan Systems Group introduce new automated welding technologies.

This will ensure the quality of safety-critical fabrications for customers across the energy sector.

Fan Systems, part of Witt UK Group, makes industrial fans for nuclear and defence.

The Nuclear AMRC works with manufacturers to help them win contracts in the nuclear sector and other high-quality low-carbon industries.

Fan Systems previously worked with the Nuclear AMRC through the Fit For Nuclear programme to develop its capabilities for the nuclear new build and decommissioning markets, and is now aiming to become the premier manufacturer of high-value, high-specification fans for a range of energy sectors.

Fan Systems recently won a significant contract from a civil nuclear client, with the potential for additional work if the company delivers a high standard of safety-critical welds.

Executive director Tim Barnes said: “The automatic welding solution piloted with the Nuclear AMRC will give our customers great confidence in our ability to consistently deliver a high quality product.

“This is particularly important for customers with rigorous welding requirements, such as in the nuclear sector, where getting it right first time is critical to encouraging future business.”

The technical collaboration is funded through the national Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) programme, and will embed automated welding techniques which can consistently produce joins to a specified standard.

Introduction of automated welding processes is believed to be a first for the UK fan manufacturing sector.

The project will be overseen by Nuclear AMRC senior welding technician Billy Armstrong, who is responsible for the centre’s own robotic arc welding facilities.

He said: “I started my career in manual manufacturing, and have spent many years transitioning to become proficient in automated manufacturing.

“I will use the knowledge and experience I have gained through my own journey to guide and mentor the stakeholders within this project, allowing them to gain the relevant skills and knowledge.”

The Nuclear AMRC is now recruiting for a postgraduate KTP associate who, under Armstrong’s guidance, will work with the Fan Systems team to tailor and embed the technology at the company’s Halifax factory.

Following the two-year project, the associate is expected to remain with Fan Systems to lead automation projects across other manufacturing processes.

The KTP programme is funded by Innovate UK, and is designed to help businesses improve their competitiveness and productivity through the better use of knowledge, technology and skills from the UK’s research base.