US$12.76mn digital project to transform UK metal industry
With the potential to ‘transform UK industry’, the Materials Processing Institute has announced that it will be playing a leading role in a new US$13mn digitisation project.
Materials Processing Institute will be working alongside Liberty Steel Group’s Hartlepool Pipes mill, Liberty Speciality Steels, Shiftec and TSC Simulation, at its Teesside based research and innovation centre. The project will look to create digital twins of the plants to demonstrate the huge potential that can be achieved in the production process.
The overall aim of the project is to highlight the benefits of introducing industrial digital technologies (IDT) into the steel industry as well as sectors serving strategic manufacturing and construction supply chains.
In addition to Liberty Steel Group’s Hartlepool Pipes mill, Liberty Speciality Steels, Shiftec and TSC Simulation, the two year project - worth US$2.55mn to the institute - is receiving funding from Innovate UK via its Manufacturing Made Smarter Challenge - part of the government's larger Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.
“The Fourth Industrial revolution, also known as Industry 4.0, utilises IDT to enable the recording and analysis of data across machines for continuous improvement, creating a more cost-effective, efficient, flexible and faster process,” commented the Materials Processing Institute in a company statement.
Using its Normanton Steel Plant the Materials Processing Institute will undertake an initial pilot project which will assess and improve the IDT prior to being implemented in the production process for Liberty Steel Group.
“The real challenge in adopting smart technology is how it can be retro-fitted to improve the performance of existing plants. Whilst this project is centred on the metals sector, it can easily be applied to any process where digital imaging can be linked to machine learning and intelligent process control,” commented Chris Oswin, who leads the Institute’s Digital Technologies Group.
“The three sites involved will act as demonstrators for IDT – enabling the lessons learned to be shared across other foundation industries, including energy, oil and gas, pharmaceuticals, chemicals and the process industries.”
Liberty Steel Group
Via this project, Liberty Steel GRoup is seeking to make a significant improvement to its productivity and product performance by working with the Institute, Shiftec and TSC.
The project will look to harness cameras and imaging technologies, alongside intelligent processing and machine learning in order to increase accuracy via process characterisation, the creation of digital twins and intelligent interactive process models.
“This is a hugely exciting and prestigious project which places the Institute at the forefront of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. I'm confident this project will show how the latest digital technologies can be adopted by small businesses and successfully applied to foundation industry factories. We will enable companies to tackle the difficult, but all too common problems of brownfield sites, legacy systems, lack of connectivity and ageing equipment,” added Chris McDonald, Chief Executive of the Materials Processing Institute.
“Many of these technologies have been developed here at the Institute and we are confident they will optimise production facilities – providing far-reaching opportunities to develop the future UK economy,” concluded McDonald.
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Lion Electric to Construct US EV Manufacturing Facility
Who is Lion Electric?
Founded in 2008, is an innovative manufacturer of all-electric, zero-emissions, medium and heavy-duty urban vehicles. Lion Electric designs, manufactures, and assembles all components for its vehicles that have unique features specifically adapted to the users and their needs. “We believe that transitioning to all-electric vehicles will lead to major improvements in our society, environment and overall quality of life,” believes Lion Electric.
Lion Electric’s new Illinois Manufacturing Facility
Just two months after announcing plans to construct a battery manufacturing plant and innovation centre in Quebec, Lion Electric is expanding its locations further, selecting Joliet, Illinois for its new manufacturing facility in the US.
The new facility is said to “represent the largest dedicated production site for zero-emission medium and heavy-duty vehicles in the US,” as well as being the company’s biggest footprint in the market. The new facility will give Lion Electric the capacity to meet increasing demand for ‘Made in America’ zero-emission vehicles and bring production closer to customers.
It is expected that the first vehicles off the production line will be in the second half of 2022.
“Lion’s historic investment to bring its largest production facility to Illinois represents not only a win for our communities, but a strong step forward in our work to expand clean energy alternatives and the jobs they bring to our communities,” said Gov. J.B. Pritzker.
“The new Joliet facility will put Illinois at the forefront of a national movement to transition to zero-emission vehicle use, advancing our own goals of putting one million of these cars on the road by 2030. In Illinois, we know that a clean energy economy is about more than just vehicles – it’s about healthier communities and jobs for those who live there. We are excited to welcome Lion to the Land of Lincoln and look forward to their future success here.”
Lion Electric’s Agreement with the Government of Illinois
Over the next three years, Lion Electric will invest a minimum of US$70mn into Illinois. The new facility - totalling 900,000 square feet - is expected to create a minimum of 745 clean energy direct jobs in the next three years, and have an annual production capacity of up to 20,000 all electric buses and trucks.
Scaling electric bus production and decarbonising freight and transportation
As the US moves to electrifying its school buses, the additional production capacity at the facility will help Lion Electric to scale its electric bus production, as well as produce an increased volume of heavy-duty zero-emission trucks to help governments and operators in the US further the decarbonisation of freight and transportation fleets.
“Lion is the leader in electric school buses and has always been dedicated to the U.S. market, and our commitment to be close to our customers is one of the core values we have as a company. This significant expansion into the U.S. market will not only allow us to drastically increase our overall manufacturing capacity of electric trucks and buses but to also better serve our customers, while adding critical clean manufacturing jobs that will form the backbone of the green economy,” said Marc Bedard, CEO and Founder of Lion.
“I also want to acknowledge the crucial role that P33 and Intersect Illinois, civic groups committed to developing developing a long-term roadmap for the local tech industry, played in connecting Lion with the Chicago area’s business and civic community to help further commercial traction, as well as engagement with key workforce and supplier partners.”