Case study – The Virtual Engineering Centre
The Virtual Engineering Centre (VEC), a University of Liverpool initiative based at Sci Tech Daresbury, is the UK’s leading centre of Virtual Engineering technology integration for industrial and commercial applications.
The VEC’s virtual design and manufacture capabilities use the latest specialist 3D immersive visualisation, advanced physics-based simulation and the intelligent use of manufacturing informatics to enable organisations to explore their designs and optimise manufacturing and maintenance processes in a highly interactive and intuitive way.
The VEC works closely with a wide range of SME’s, providing expertise and facilities, to support new product development and provide a platform for SME’s to demonstrate their capability to larger companies. An example of the VEC’s approach is the collaborative R&D project, known as STRIVE (Simulation Tools for Rapid Innovation in Vehicle Engineering).
The VEC worked with Bentley Motors, in conjunction with the Northern Automotive Alliance and three local tech SME’s from Liverpool City Region to look at developing new digital tools which would help Bentley reduce their product development time. Sharing engineering data on their flagship model the Mulsanne, Bentley Motors and the VEC developed a unique framework to evaluate the assessment, verification and integration of the new digital tool sets.
The result was a significant reduction in Bentley’s development timescale and the creation of new highly-skilled roles at their factory to support their ongoing digitalisation process.
Mark Harding, Manufacturing Project Leader for Continental & Flying Spur at Bentley Motors said: “The positive impact on the business gained from the deployment of the new toolsets at the Bentley site has been a direct result of this innovative collaboration between us, the University’s Virtual Engineering Centre and agile North West based SMEs”
The VEC are currently the technical lead for a £8.7 m part European funded project LCR4.0 which will support over 300 local SME’s adopt new digital 4IR technologies to improve productivity and enhance competitiveness.