The University of Derby’s Rail Research and Innovation Centre (RRIC), at Lonsdale House, opened its doors to representatives of the UK’s rail supply chain industry at the showcase event on Tuesday (25 June).
The centre was developed thanks to a £902,600 grant from the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership’s Local Growth Fund.
The funding has allowed for the purchase of three technology ‘demonstrators’ to help improve innovation and productivity within the rail industry around:
- Advanced Rail Composite Design and Manufacture – resin transfer moulding machine, hot press, impact tester and associated CAE licences for developing ideas and prototypes for new components and structures.
- Rail Data Analytics and Artificial Intelligence – Data analytics laboratory and scalable cloud data warehouse to support building AI (Artificial Intelligence) and data science enabled prototypes, and developing ideas for extracting and intelligently visualising value from various data sources and Internet of Things (IoT) streams.
- Future Rail Propulsion – Simulation, data acquisition and configurable hardware for laboratory-scale hardware in the loop for projects exploring traction control and energy recovery e.g. regenerative braking, energy sources, systems integration and performance.
It is hoped that the RRIC will enhance the skills of 80 or more rail sector employees, while also supporting around 80 supply chain businesses, 15 new collaborative research projects and shepherding 20 companies through innovation funding applications, by 2022.
Professor Warren Manning, Pro Vice-Chancellor Dean of the University of Derby’s College of Engineering and Technology, said: “We are grateful to D2N2’s Local Growth Fund for the support it has given the University of Derby to develop this superb facility.
“The Rail Research and Innovation Centre will provide expertise and technology with the capacity to transform the development of rail transport, allowing organisations to get the best value out of data and find better ways of decarbonising the railways.
“Secondly, it will provide opportunities for small and medium-sized enterprises in the rail supply chain and associated industries to collaborate with us in innovative and exciting ways. This will help to put them at the cutting edge of the industry, unlocking opportunities for them not just regionally and nationally, but potentially across the world too.”
Tom Goshawk, D2N2 LEP Capital Projects Manager said of the opening: “The Rail Research and Innovation Centre project has provided an excellent opportunity for D2N2 LEP to invest in the important rail industry in Derby.
“Transport Equipment Manufacturing is a sector of great importance to the D2N2 area and this investment enables greater efficiencies and enhances the inward investment offer to rail supply chain businesses in the region.”