Magnomatics, a magnetic gear manufacturer, has won funding from a key offshore wind supply chain support programme to help solve the challenge of robotic placement of large rotor magnets on wind turbines.

They will be working alongside a Sheffield-based university spin-out, a group of engineers from the Integrated Manufacturing Group at the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, to deliver the ambitious ROBOMAG project.

Magnomatics is one of seven UK companies awarded grant funding from the Offshore Wind Growth Partnership (OWGP) to carry out supply chain improvement projects for offshore wind power.

Dr Lloyd Tinkler, senior project engineer at IMG, said: “This project is a fantastic opportunity to support Magnomatics in increasing production rates to capitalise on demand for offshore wind generation, by automating the task of manipulating high-strength permanent magnets. A clear benefit of this would be the elimination of any potential trapping hazard when manually placing the magnets as they snap into position.

“It also links in with the AMRC’s activities within the EPSRC Future Electrical Machines Manufacturing Hub to address challenges in the production for high-integrity, high-value electrical machines in order to secure the UK as a leader in this area.”

Matt Bacon, AMRC project manager for SMEs, added: “This is a tremendous opportunity for the AMRC to work with a globally recognised SME to help realise and de-risk automated processes for magnetic hub placement to facilitate the growth of wind turbine manufacture.”

The UK is the world leader in offshore wind, with more installed capacity than any other country. Already, offshore wind powers the equivalent of 4.5 million homes annually and is set to power more than 30 percent of British electricity by 2030.

Magnomatics develops and manufactures products for a range of industries, from hybrid and electric vehicles to marine propulsion, aerospace, rail, and oil and gas. David Latimer, CEO, said: “We are delighted with the funding from the OWGP. Magnomatics has secured strong commercial interest in our technology for offshore wind. This project is all about developing the processes and methods to help anchor the manufacturing in Sheffield City Region and the UK.”

Offshore Wind Growth Partnership

The Offshore Wind Growth Partnership is a key part of the joint government-industry Offshore Wind Sector Deal announced in 2018, funded by the Offshore Wind Industry Council (OWIC).

Andrew Macdonald, offshore wind growth partnership programme director, said: “This was a very competitive process and we received a high number of quality applications, totalling almost £2m in project costs, demonstrating the huge opportunities to maximise the economic benefits of our world-leading position in offshore wind. The OWGP is committed to delivering increased productivity and competitiveness that will drive increased UK content into offshore windfarms in the rapidly growing global market, as well as in the UK.”

Halfdan Brustad, Offshore Wind Industry Council sponsor for the partnership, said: “On behalf of OWIC, I am delighted to see these contracts awarded by the OWGP. Utilising the funding provided by OWIC members, the OWGP has been able to identify an exciting range of projects from UK companies which merit support and investment. Activities undertaken by the OWGP, such as through these Pilot Calls, are important opportunities to support the growth of the UK supply chain and to help us deliver on our ambitions under the Offshore Wind Sector Deal. I look forward to seeing the outputs from all seven companies.”

Click here to read more about the other funding winners.

The projects are due to begin in February 2020.

Image caption: The Reconfigurable Factory Demonstrator cell which shows the robot proposed for the project on the AMRC’s custom reconfigurable floor to which the rotary table and fixture will be mounted.