Industry-Academia Collaborations to Improve the Economy and Environment in Wales
The term ‘Cross-Cutting Themes’ is widely used within European Funded Operations; it enables operations such as ASTUTE 2020 and manufacturing businesses to consider not only the central goal of the project but also its wider impact on the community and environment. Within the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) operations, these refer specifically to issues that touch general principles of equality, sustainability and societies.
To increase value within the academia-industrial collaborative projects that ASTUTE 2020 undertake with the Welsh manufacturing industry, we focus on trying to incorporate, implement and embed equal opportunities and gender mainstreaming, sustainable development and tackling poverty along with social inclusion. In this article, we take a look at the benefits of the Cross-Cutting Themes within the ASTUTE 2020 partnership and our industrial projects.
Promoting Equal Opportunities, Gender Mainstreaming and the Welsh Language
Equal opportunities and gender mainstreaming aim to reduce injustice and promote social cohesion. Encompassing the general principles of promoting equality and non-discrimination, effectively tackling age, disability, gender, ethnicity, religion and belief.
As a partnership of five Welsh Higher Education Institutions (Swansea, Cardiff, Aberystwyth Universities, the University of South Wales and University of Wales Trinity Saint David), we strive to provide equal opportunities and equality between women and men and are extremely proud to have an array of exceptionally talented academics, engineers, technical experts and management team members addressing the different implications for people of different genders across the partnership and within the manufacturing sector. Annual celebrations at ASTUTE 2020 are International Women’s Day (8th March) and International Women in Engineering Day (23rd June), promoting and elevating the profile of women engineers we have working with us, the research that they conduct and their career journeys, encouraging engineering as a profession for all. You can read the latest article here.
ASTUTE 2020 supports the use of the medium of Welsh, promoting and implementing the Welsh language within its culture and working practices. We continue to make a conscious effort to incorporate a bilingual service, where applicable, in the following:
- Communications – social media posts and the astutewales.com website
- Marketing material – information flyers, case studies, press notices
- Events/meetings can be made available in Welsh upon request
ASTUTE 2020 continues to ensure that the public has the choice to communicate with us using either English or Welsh and to receive a service in their chosen language.
Embedding Environmental Sustainability into the Welsh Manufacturing Industry
The theme of sustainable development aims to meet social, economic and environmental objectives for those who live and work in Wales. ASTUTE 2020 is committed to integrating new and improved systems to strive towards sustainable products and processes within the manufacturing industry across Wales.
ASTUTE 2020 collaborations inspire manufacturing companies to improve and streamline their manufacturing processes, manufactured products and supply chain, generating sustainable, higher-value goods and services. A number of our collaborators are promoting the benefits of introducing such sustainable technologies into their businesses.
ASTUTE 2020 has supported two of Wales’ renewable energy businesses; one focused on wave energy investigating the components of a wave energy converter at Marine Power Systems Ltd. and the latter on wind energy, specifically on the performance of a vertical axis wind turbine at Crossflow Energy Ltd.
ASTUTE 2020’s project with Marine Power Systems has provided the company with confidence that their wave energy convertor (WaveSub) is capable of handling the external forces experienced under operating conditions (storms). The WaveSub technology has huge potential to contribute to energy security targets (wave power generating 10% of the world's electricity by 2050) and could reduce reliance on unpredictable and non-renewable energy sources. View the full Marine Power Systems Case study here.
Waste management and sustainability as a whole is incredibly important. Through our collaborations with the Welsh manufacturing industry, we encourage businesses to manage the impact on the environment to reduce waste effectively. Below are three examples of businesses who have had a reduction in their waste management as a result of their projects:
Affresol Limited is a green technology business committed to reducing their environmental impact through a range of innovative concrete products for structural building units (storage bins, sheds etc.) and are made from a high percentage of recycled materials, delivering long-term savings with a low carbon footprint. Affresol manufactures a range of products using a new type of composite materials called Thermo Poly Rock (TPR®). TPR® is a non-cementitious concrete, produced from a cold manufacturing process, that uses size reduced recycled plastic waste products and minerals. It has superior mechanical properties and a reduced environmental impact: 70% of TPR® content is plastic waste, over four tonnes have been diverted from landfill and the use of TPR® reduces the production of concrete and associated CO2 The collaboration has resulted in a more efficient production process. View Affresol’s case study here.
Camplas Limited based in Bridgend, is an award-winning company manufacturing bulk storage tanks, specialising in manufacturing glass-reinforced plastic (GRP) tanks that can be used above or underground. The project was a unique collaboration between ASTUTE 2020, Camplas and Marine Power Systems on the manufacture of the WaveSub. The collaboration reduced the weight of a component, resulting in the reduction of raw material required for manufacture, providing savings in energy, follow-on processing and fuel costs. The collaboration has helped to support two local companies to collaborate on the manufacture of a novel energy harvesting device, maintaining and strengthening local supply chains.
Styrene Systems Ltd. designs, manufactures and sells machines that compact waste plastic foam packaging such as polystyrene. The project highlighted that there is a clear environmental and sustainable benefit of recycling foam material through the process developed by Styrene. The enhancement of this technology with the potential of 98% volume reduction could easily be introduced within the circular economy. View Styrene’s case study here.
Besides the obvious and significant reason for saving money, there are some great advantages for businesses when they become more energy-efficient. Through ASTUTE 2020 collaborations we inspire manufacturing companies to consider sustainable technologies which can help in reducing running costs.
Team Precision Pipe Assemblies Ltd. manufacture a range of complex precision pipework assemblies for heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems and other fluid handling components for the automotive industry. Benefits arising from the collaboration included reductions in scrappage rates, energy outputs and energy consumption. View Team Precision’s full case study here.
As a result of ASTUTE 2020’s industrial collaborations, the Welsh manufacturing industry has invested over £14.4 million to embed advanced and sustainable technologies to implement improvements into their manufacturing processes, contributing to positive steps for the economy and environment in Wales.
Building resilience, prosperity and a better environment for businesses and future generations in Wales is paramount. ASTUTE 2020 signposts companies to the Welsh Government’s future-proofing toolkit. The toolkit allows businesses to see how prepared they are for the future based on sustainability and equality performance. The toolkit then produces a report and a proposed action plan, with the additional opportunity to get further assistance to implement change.
Creating Progression Opportunities for the People, Communities and Industries Across Wales
Tackling poverty and social exclusion focuses on actions to create employment and progression opportunities and enable people to access those opportunities. ASTUTE 2020’s focus is providing research, development and innovation (RD&I) support within the manufacturing industry across Wales. The support provided promotes economic growth by creating and safeguarding jobs within the manufacturing industry. Currently, over 370 Welsh enterprises have benefited from working with us, including Lyte Ladders & Towers Ltd, Weartech International Ltd, Kautex Textron CVS Ltd, British Rototherm Company Ltd, and Markes International Ltd, creating or safeguarding over 270 jobs, contributing significantly to the Welsh economy.
We work closely with the European Social Fund (ESF) operations who provides training opportunities in the areas of materials and manufacturing:
The METaL project which provide work-based learning focusing on technical training modules to address skill shortages and provide the industry with the skills required to thrive in a knowledge-led sector. The METaL project is currently offering online training courses free of charge to businesses in Wales. ‘Corrosion & Coatings Technology’ is currently live and ready for enrolment and ‘Manufacturing Technology’ will be launching shortly. You can get in touch or register your interest here.
The Materials and Manufacturing Academy (M2A) provide industry-led postgraduate research training,
Knowledge Economy Skills Scholarships (KESS2) supports collaborative research projects and higher-level skills training in partnership with employers, and
ION Leadership, designed to develop and enhance the leadership skills of owners, managers and key decision-makers of businesses.
Collaborative research with ASTUTE 2020 plays a critical role in companies meeting their future growth targets through enhancing the resilience of their manufacturing systems and supply chains.