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Chinese engineering group sets up European innovation centre
Published:  15 August, 2011

Chongqing Machinery and Electric (CQME), the Chinese industrial group which owns the Rochdale-based Precision Technologies Group (PTG), is setting up a European Innovation Centre in partnership with Manchester and Huddersfield Universities. The aim is to drive innovation and to develop technologies for new markets, and to establish targeted research and student training programmes at the universities.

When CQME bought the PTG businesses – including Holroyd, Binns & Berry and Crawford Swift – for £20m last year, it said it wanted to take advantage of their precision engineering expertise to accelerate the pace of product and market development as part of its aim of becoming a major global player.

To date, CQME has focused on boosting the specialist skills and knowledge base in the UK businesses and expanding its intellectual property portfolio with targeted development of specific technologies for new markets. This expertise will be used not only to extend the activities of the UK businesses, but also to open up new product and market opportunities for CQME’s Chinese companies.
 
The company is now establishing three centres with related aims, but with specialised skills and strengths:
•  the CQME European Innovation Centre, in partnership with Manchester University’s Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences;
•  the CHMTI PTG European R&D Centre, focusing on advanced machine tools and manufacturing technologies, in partnership with Huddersfield University’s Centre for Precision Technologies; and
•  the CHMTI European Marketing Centre, providing a Europe-wide distribution and customer service for CQME’s export products.

Initially, the innovation centre will consist of up to 25 people, including employees from PTG, CHMTI and CQME, along with experts from academia and other institutions acting as consultants. Its key activities will include:
•  recruiting and sponsoring research students to MSc and PhD level;
•  supporting the  continuous development of Holroyd’s advanced  rotor, gear and screw manufacturing systems;
•  supporting the penetration of new markets and technologies;
•  supporting the development of efficient manufacturing systems’
•  developing process control systems and manufacturing platforms for friction stir welding technologies; and
•  supporting r&d into CQME’s wider strategic products and markets, including power generation, aerospace manufacturing,  electronics and electrical distribution.

“The overriding objective is to build a global profile for this centre of expertise in our core technical and commercial elements of manufacturing and process technologies, while bringing research students though a programme of targeted and funded projects,” explains PTG CEO, Tony Bannan. “The centre will also provide a pool of consultants and specialists who can be called on as a panel of experts to consult and bring their expertise to PTG and CQME’s ongoing projects and strategies.
 
“Manchester [University] is the perfect partner for CQME because it has large, multi-disciplinary research facilities and is strong in key technologies such as electrical generation and distribution, materials science, and many of the areas of interest to the wider CQME group businesses,” Bannan adds. “Huddersfield, as a leading UK university in advanced manufacturing technologies, precision engineering and machine tools, offers valuable synergy for developing the CHMTI-PTG European R&D Centre.”

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