The Proving Factory is now officially open for business, following the formal opening yesterday at the assembly facility in Coventry, with guest of honour Business Secretary Dr Vince Cable.
A £22 million manufacturing initiative in the UK, The Proving Factory takes low-carbon vehicle technologies developed by small high-tech British companies and university research departments, industrialises them then produces them at ‘proving volumes’ of 10,000-20,000 units a year. Once a product is adopted by a car maker, The Proving Factory puts it into production, and ultimately supports the process of handing it on to higher production volumes in the main stream automotive supply chain.
The EU has made a commitment to improving air quality and reducing emissions, and with 12 percent of total EU emissions coming from cars alone, vehicle manufacturers are under huge pressure to create cleaner products. New solutions are needed to support this goal, creating an attractive market for the innovative technologies being developed in the UK and made by The Proving Factory.
The Proving Factory initiative was launched by Dr Cable exactly two years ago, in February 2013, after receiving funding from the Advanced Manufacturing Supply Chain Initiative (AMSCI). The Proving Factory business is a strategic alliance between Productiv and Tata Steel. Since the launch the partners have been busy building the team and facilities needed to develop and manufacture the first technologies. The Proving Factory now has a 6,000m2 site in Coventry where the engineering and systems assembly operations are located, and a 1,000m2 component manufacturing facility in South Yorkshire, housing state-of-the-art machine tools. 50 people have been recruited so far, with this number set to increase to 250 over the next four years.
The Proving Factory was established to manage the gap in the UK supply chain, between small technology developers designing innovative low-carbon automotive technologies and vehicle manufacturers’ need for a route to volume production, to integrate new technologies into their vehicles. Nine technologies have now gone through the development stages, with two due to start production this quarter. The range of products being handled by The Proving Factory reflects the fact that there isn’t just one solution to the challenge of developing new low-carbon powertrain technologies, rather a whole suite of options are needed to address different duty cycles and applications.
Business Secretary Vince Cable said: “When I visited this site two years ago I was standing in an empty shed, talking about a great idea. Now with £13 million support from government that idea has been transformed into state-of-the-art machines, new jobs and a host of technologies that will help produce the next generation of low-carbon vehicles.
“The government’s industrial strategy is backing the automotive sector as it goes from strength to strength, giving business the confidence to invest over the long term and helping to develop cutting-edge technology that will create high-skilled jobs.”
Richard Bruges, chief executive of Productiv, said: “The whole team, from our engineers to our technology developers, has worked tirelessly over the last two years to make The Proving Factory vision a reality. I would like to thank everyone involved for their hard work and thank the Minister and the Department for Business for their support so far.
“With tight emissions regulations levied on both the UK and the EU, vehicle manufacturers are under increasing pressure to make their products cleaner and more eco efficient than ever before. But we know that there is no one solution to this challenge. We have a team of experts in place who can make an informed decision on which technologies might form a part of a greener automotive industry and the facilities and skills to turn them into products.”
Henrik Adam, chief operating officer at Tata Steel, said: “The Proving Factory, as well as supporting the development of new technologies for the automotive industry, is setting a bench mark for more efficient production processes as well as leading to the design of novel materials.
“As an organisation we pride ourselves on working closely with the automotive industry and its associated supply chain, both in the UK and further afield, to provide the support and services they need to create the vehicles the consumer wants. The Proving Factory is a brilliant example of this response to market needs and we are proud to be a part of it.”