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Green Future For Car Parts

posted 11 Jan 2013, 06:43 by RiDO Rotherham

Thanks to a new research programme being undertaken by engineers based at the AMP, future car owners may find that many of the body panels on their vehicles are produced from biocomposites, such as hemp and cashew nut resin, 

The £100,000 research project has the potential to revolutionise the automotive industry by evaluating the potential use of bio-composite materials in the production of future automotive vehicle bodywork panels, as potential alternatives to composite technologies currently in use such as carbon fibre and epoxy resin systems. 

The research is supported by a £50,000 grant from the Niche Vehicle Network and will be undertaken by project partners, Performance Engineered Solutions (PES) Ltd, TEKS UK Ltd and the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) with Boeing.

Biocomposite materials are formed by mixing a resin with natural fibres, usually derived from plants or cellulose. Biocomposites are characterised by the fact that petrochemicals resin are replaced by a vegetable or animal resin, and the fibres (fibreglass, carbon fibre or talc) are replaced by natural fibre (wood fibres, hemp, flax, sisal, jute etc).

There are a number of potential benefits that could result from the research, including; 

The creation of new ‘Biocomposite’ materials using a combination of natural (bio) and synthetic fibres to reinforce polymer matrices from both renewable and non-renewable resources.  

Development of new methods for the moulding and curing of composites, which reduces the energy and labour intensive methods typically used at present.

Development of new recycling methods and technologies for composites.  The renewable nature of the biocomposites may offer alternative end of life solutions, in particular with the potential biodegradability of these materials. 

Although these ideas may sound far-fetched in current tests some of the biocomposite materials actually out perform their equivalent regular polymer composites with, for example, the cashew nut resin system, using the waste nut shells or husks achieving a greater toughness than the conventional epoxy based matrix currently in use.

In awarding the money for the Niche Vehicle Systems competition research programme,  Robert Anderson, the Niche Vehicle R&D Programme Manager said; “In the global automotive sector, highly creative and dynamic niche businesses are sometimes overlooked, and our funding packages provide important support to R&D projects such as this.”

Former Formula 1 design engineer , Dan Fleetcroft is now design director of Performance Engineered Solutions (PES) Ltd added; “This is an exciting project, both in terms of the untapped potential for biocomposites in the automotive industry, and having the opportunity to work on the project with key strategic partner organisations such as TEKS and the AMRC.

Roland Krain, General Manager TEKS SARL Ltd commented: "According to some predictions 80% of the world carbon fibre production will be taken up with the production of aircraft parts. The biocomposite systems being researched in this project will offer a viable alternative to such carbon fibre composites with the added benefit of the biocomposite being green."

Dr Tim Swait, research engineer at the AMRC Composite Centre, said: "There are a number of areas we need to investigate before these biocomposites can go into commercial production. We will research how we can increase the concentration of fibres to give material properties that match synthetic composites, and how we can produce the biocomposite components to optimise its performance.”

If successful, the results from the research project will potentially be used to further develop the technologies and products around biocomposite materials and to demonstrate the strength, durability and cosmetic finish essential to establishing the commercial viability of using bio composites to make low volume, specialist components for performance vehicles and in the wider automotive market.   

New Venture Combats World Hunger

posted 3 Jan 2013, 07:31 by RiDO Rotherham   [ updated 22 Sep 2014, 03:30 ]

Bulk Meats, a socially conscious online enterprise has launched in Rotherham. 

Based at RiDO's Fusion@Magna Business Centre, the new venture offers low-priced, high-quality fresh meat to people in the UK whilst also providing meals to starving children in Africa.

Every time the company sells a "bulk" pack of fresh meat, of 1kg upwards, a meal is donated to African children via the United Nation's World Food Program.

Serial entrepreneur Gavin Edley, 25, has joined with Anthony Nettleship, 27 to launch the venture and the Rotherham pair are targeting hard pressed families as well as body-builders, fitness fanatics and other athletes that rely on a high protein diet.

"We wanted to establish a business that tackled the financial issues people currently face over here, by offering competitively-priced, fresh, quality meat – a big part of most people's grocery bills" said Gavin, "But also to give something to those less fortunate than people in the UK too."

Nettleship added: "With the current economic conditions, it's easy for people to become overly-focused on their own problems, and forget about those that are less fortunate.

"We wanted to develop a business model that helped people with their problems in the UK, but also maintained consciousness for those in much worse conditions, and try to help those people too."

The pair expect to feed over 7,000 starving African children within their first year of trading, with more meals being provided as the company grows and expands.

Source: Rothbiz

Rotherham teen wins BBC's Young Apprentice

posted 3 Jan 2013, 07:18 by RiDO Rotherham   [ updated 3 Jan 2013, 07:19 ]

Rotherham girl Ashleigh Porter-Exley (17), has been crowned the winner of this year's BBC's Young Apprentice.

Described by Lord Sugar as a "real old fashion grafter" Ashleigh saw 11 fellow candidates fired in the boardroom over the course of the series and picked up the £25,000 first prize. 

The Wath entrepreneur currently has two jobs and has been working as an apprentice with letting agents Martin & Co Rotherham since May. She is also currently studying at college for her NVQ Level 2 in Business and Admin as well as taking an evening accountancy course.

She said that she wants a few days off after winning but will back at work, but didn't want to give too much away about what she may do with the prize money.

In the final episode, Ashleigh, again took on the role of project manager in a task to create a new brand of sportswear with global potential. Her team won the task convincingly.

Ashleigh Porter-Exley, winner of BBC Young Apprentice 2012, said: "I'm ecstatic. It's not really sunk in yet, so I think I need to sleep on it for a few days.

Free places announced for environmental awareness training

posted 20 Dec 2012, 07:37 by RiDO Rotherham   [ updated 20 Dec 2012, 07:39 ]

Barnsley College is offering 100 free places on their Environmental Awareness Training in 2013. 

The Level 3 Award in Understanding the Fundamental Principles and Requirements of Environmental Technology Systems is for people with roles that involve the management or specification of environmental technologies, and people who have to inform or advise customers and clients about environmental technologies, their use and benefits.

Technologies covered include solar thermal hot water, solar photovoltaic, microcombined heat & power, heat pumps, micro windpower, rainwater harvesting, biomass, micro hydropower and greywater reuse. 

The 2 day course is undertaken at Barnsley College with unrestricted access to the Think Low Carbon Centre, a state of the art sustainable facility developed in collaboration with the Building Research Establishment, a recognised world leader in this field.

Barnsley College is a lead hub within the National Skills Academy for Environmental Technologies network and works with partners across the region to provide this course.

To book your place please contact 01226 216224 or click here for more details.

Soft Landing Success for Unifood Solutions

posted 19 Dec 2012, 02:09 by RiDO Rotherham   [ updated 19 Dec 2012, 02:11 ]

A Latvian business woman, Marina Zajaca, is the latest entrepreneur to take advantage of the Rotherham Investment & Development Office (RiDO) Soft Landings Programme.
Marina’s company, Unifood Solutions Ltd, offers a traditional East European fast food which is quick easy and nutritious. Across Europe millions of people enjoy frozen fast food similar to Russian Pelmeni. It may also be known as Vareniki or Pierogi, depending on which area of Eastern Europe they emanate from.
These traditional foods are thin dough parcels with a variety of savoury and sweet fillings depending on country of origin. These can include many flavours for different uses - minced meat, potato, cottage cheese, or fruit. Simple to cook, they provide a healthy alternative to pasta and are nutritious. 
Marina has located her business at RiDO’s Fusion Business Centre in Rotherham. Under the Soft Landings programme assistance has been provided around; the UK legislation necessary to setting up a limited company; UK food hygiene regulations, potential equipment suppliers, and researching potential customers.

Through the programme assistance is given to overseas companies looking to establish operations in the UK, explore the UK market or to use the UK as a base for further European activities. Potential investor companies from overseas are offered a comprehensive array of services, including; fully equipped modern office facilities, available on flexible easy in/easy out terms, and with full reception & admin support. Assistance is also provided to access relevant specialist help and advice, linking to appropriate support organisations and trade bodies.
The SLZ project is supported financially by the European Union. The project has attracted £842k investment from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of Europe’s support for the region’s economic development through the 2007 - 2013 Yorkshire and Humber ERDF Programme.

AMRC hits the slopes with snowboarding showcase

posted 19 Dec 2012, 01:56 by RiDO Rotherham   [ updated 19 Dec 2012, 01:57 ]

Innovative biocomposite materials are heading for the slopes, after engineers at the AMRC Composite Centre produced a prototype snowboard from flax, cashew nut husks and recycled plastic.

The aerospace and automotive sectors are increasingly using composite materials for their combination of low weight and high strength, which can provide significant improvements in fuel efficiency. These materials are usually made up of carbon or glass fibres embedded in an epoxy resin derived from petrochemicals. These materials are energy-intensive to manufacture, and are not easily recyclable or biodegradable when they reach the end of their lives.

Replacing some or all of these raw materials with sustainable alternatives can significantly improve the environmental performance of composites manufacturing.

The AMRC Composite Centre at the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) in Rotherham, started working with biocomposites as part of E-light, a collaborative European project to investigate new lightweight materials for electric vehicles. The team investigated the use of fibres from flax and bamboo, as well as an epoxy resin derived from cashew nut husks which would normally go to waste, and produced two fairing panels for the AMRC's Mantra lorry as showpieces.

Some of the young researchers at the AMRC Composite Centre then started looking at the potential for these materials in an area of special personal interest: snowboarding. The team launched an internal project which became known as SUSC: Snowboard Using Sustainable Composites.

"Snowboards need to be stiff, strong and light, so are typically made from glass fibre or carbon fibre composite with a wooden core," says development engineer Craig Atkins. "We decided to take a look at replacing these with more sustainable materials. Flax is a relatively cheap bio-material, with good mechanical properties, and a very good candidate for use in snowboards."

The team produced two boards from flax fibres embedded in a resin containing 30 per cent of cashew shell epoxy. The core was made from recycled PET foam, derived from old plastic bottles and other waste.

One board is currently being put through its paces by one of the AMRC team, Alistair Murray, during a sabbatical in the Canadian mountains. The other is on show at the centre, having drawn interest from businesses at the Composites Engineering Show at NEC in November as well as from the extreme sports community.

The AMRC team continues to develop biocomposites for a range of transport applications.

"There's a number of areas we need to investigate before these biocomposites can go into commercial production," says Dr Tim Swait, AMRC research engineer. "We will research how we can increase the concentration of fibres to give material properties that are at least a match for synthetic composites, and how we design the lay-up for a biocomposite component to optimise its performance. We're also investigating other techniques to improve the energy efficiency of composites manufacturing, such as microwave curing, and whether these can be applied to biomaterials."

New MP Champions Rotherham

posted 14 Dec 2012, 06:03 by RiDO Rotherham   [ updated 14 Aug 2014, 07:21 ]

Rotherham's newly elected MP, Sarah Champion used her maiden speech in the House of Commons to talk up Rotherham and its businesses.

During an important debate on the economy, Champion highlighted government cuts, job losses and youth unemployment but went on to share facts about industry in the borough. 

She said: "The people of Rotherham are proud of their town, but they cannot understand why none of the good things are ever shared. Let me redress that.

"Seven out of 10 top Formula 1 racing cars are constructed of Rotherham steel. Every five seconds, somewhere in the world, an aircraft takes off or lands that is reliant on gear made from Rotherham steel."

"In recent years, Rotherham has embraced growing industries in advanced manufacturing, finance and IT services. In 2012, 18 new independent businesses opened in Rotherham town centre, as well as two national retailers."

"Rotherham United's stunning new home, the New York stadium, opened its doors in August to a sell-out crowd."

"Rotherham is the only place in the country affiliated to the Athena international programme, the main aim of which is to secure balance in leadership worldwide. As the first ever woman to be elected as MP for Rotherham, I am particularly pleased with that affiliation and I will work to support more young women to reach their full potential."

Source: Rothbiz

Rotherham based Gala Tent pegs international expansion

posted 6 Dec 2012, 06:24 by RiDO Rotherham   [ updated 6 Dec 2012, 06:25 ]

Gala Tent, the UK’s largest importer and distributor of tents, marquees and pop-up awnings, has agreed £2.3m of finance as part of the company's international expansion. 

The Manvers-based business, which employs 30 staff, has developed export sales in European countries including Holland, Norway, Spain, Ireland and Germany. 

Founded in 1999, Gala Tent has grown to sell more than 10,000 tents and marquees each year, along with around 90,000 event accessories and furniture products in the UK. 

The deal, led by Lee Bloodworth, HSBC’s senior international commercial manager in South Yorkshire, will allow Gala Tent to increase its overseas production of components which are exclusively designed by Gala and built in the UK.

This in turn will help the company to accrue stock throughout the winter in preparation for the business’s busy summer period.

Jason Mace, managing director of Gala Tent, said: “We are at an exciting phase of growth and the business required an international bank that can facilitate the flexibility we require to make the most of our importing activity, allow us to further penetrate the European market and continue to develop our presence in the UK.

"The team at HSBC have worked with us to ensure the right financial products will facilitate our strategic growth goals for the future of the business.”

Rotherham revealed as location for new automotive proving facility

posted 6 Dec 2012, 03:44 by RiDO Rotherham   [ updated 6 Dec 2012, 03:52 ]

Local civic and business leaders in Rotherham have welcomed the news that Tata Steel and its industry partners are to develop a new automotive proving facility, to be located in the town.

Led by industry experts, Productiv Limited, and working closely with Tata Steel and other automotive manufacturers and technology developers, the project centres on technologies with the "potential to transform the vehicles of tomorrow". The facility will enable new low carbon technologies to be tested and developed, prior to utilising these technologies into the mass production of future vehicles. 

In addition to Tata Steel, the project’s industrial partners includes manufacturers of automotive power train systems, engines, gas turbines, and turbochargers, working alongside MIRA, the world renowned, independent vehicle engineering consultancy.

The project set to be launched in early 2013 has been successful in receiving money from Round 1 of the Government’s £125 million Advanced Manufacturing Supply Chain Initiative (AMSCI) which is projected to create or safeguard over 2,160 jobs supported by approximately £80 million of joint public and private sector investment. The proving factory is one of 11 manufacturing supply chain projects across the automotive, aerospace and chemical sectors.

Mark Broxholme, managing director of Tata Steel's speciality steels business, said: "We are delighted to play a major role in this exciting collaborative project that together with other technology partners, government and business will enable new low carbon technologies used in the next generation of hybrid and electric vehicles to become a reality and get into production here in the UK.

"We are a company that works within the automotive industry and we've partnered with Productiv to help improve manufacturing processes, industrialise emerging green technologies and speed up their introduction into the UK automotive supply chain."

Councillor Roger Stone, Leader of Rotherham Council added; “It is good to see that another industry-leading research centre will be located in Rotherham. With the world-class facilities we already have at the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP), demonstrating expertise in advanced manufacturing industries such as aerospace and power generation, the addition of this automotive proving facility further strengths our claim to be the centre of the UK’s advanced manufacturing heartland. “

James Newman, Chairman of the Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “I would like to congratulate the Productiv led team on securing funding from the Government’s Advanced Manufacturing Supply Chain Initiative. The new proving factory will join our growing community of advanced manufacturing researchers in the Sheffield City Region and will help to boost further growth in the industry.

“As the Sheffield City Region continues to strengthen its reputation as a global centre for modern manufacturing and technology, I hope to see more City Region initiatives of this ambition gain Government support in the future.”

Rotherham Based Company Expand Into European Market

posted 29 Nov 2012, 03:05 by RiDO Rotherham   [ updated 29 Nov 2012, 03:06 ]

The Paperbox Ltd, a Rotherham based wedding stationery suppliers, are celebrating after expanding into European markets, thanks to support from RiDO (Rotherham Investment Development Office). 

The directors seized the opportunity to invest in specialist production equipment to sell online to wholesalers, wedding stationers and individual consumers.

The business grew very quickly with the majority of sales generated through a bespoke website and via eBay. In January 2012, the director Ray Calland-Scoble moved the business from a double garage at his home, to a unit at RiDO's Century Business Centre which gave him more space and the ability to increase production and streamline output efficiently. 

The ERDF-funded Growth and Prosperity in Rotherham (Soft Landing Zone) project, which is run by RiDO and helps Rotherham SME businesses to identify new overseas markets, is helping help him expand further.

Martyn Benson, business development co-ordinator for RiDO carried out research into export markets by investigating the potential market in Eire. Moving into this market too meant an Irish version of the Paperbox' website, to facilitate trading in Euros, which was bespoke designed and developed by Prototype Creative, based at Manvers. 

RiDO also assisted Ray with registering an EU trademark, which was essential to be able to secure an Irish web domain name. 

Ray Calland-Scoble, Director of The Paperbox Ltd, said: "The support we have had from RiDO has been invaluable in helping us drive the business forward into new, specifically targeted markets.

"The Irish market has proved very lucrative and thanks to RiDO's help in securing the EU trademark, we have protected our brand. This means we now see progressive opportunities for expansion and growth in other targeted European countries, much of which is currently untapped."

Martyn is continuing to work with Ray to grow the business in other countries, particularly where there is a strong expat community – such as Gibraltar, Malta and Spain. Sales to Germany will launch in January 2013 with other European countries following during 2013/14.

The business has taken off so well that The Paperbox Ltd is set to take on a further 260 sq ft office unit within Century Business Centre after Christmas.

Martyn Benson, Business Development Co-ordinator for the Soft Landing Zone at RiDO, said: "It is fantastic to work with Ray and so exciting to see new market opportunities opening up across Europe for growing businesses like this.

"At one point we even had to scale back some of our export research and activities as The Paperbox saw unprecedented demand! We look forward to seeing this already very successful business develop and grow even further!"

Source: Rothbiz

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