UK Government grants Babcock green light for £2.1m ‘AWESIM’ manufacturing project

Babcock International Group (Babcock) has won Government backing to pioneer advanced manufacturing and sensor technologies with the potential to deliver significant savings.

The Automated Welding Equipment System Inspection and Monitoring is the first of its kind to combine machine learning, sensor development and advanced remote manufacturing processes to deliver welding, weld inspection and potentially weld certification all in near real time.

The work is being led by Babcock’s civil nuclear business, Cavendish Nuclear, along with some of the UK’s most renowned engineering and academic institutions. It’s being driven by urgent UK industry targets to achieve a 30% cost reduction in nuclear new build along with savings of 20% in nuclear decommissioning projects by the year 2030.   

BEIS’ Energy Innovation Programme will allocate £1.3m for Phase 1 of the project which will focus on technology development and last until the end of March 2021. The remainder of the funding will come from the industrial partners. Once developed, the technology will enable detection of flaws as they occur, leading to significant reductions in cost and time in manufacturing processes.

Jon Hall, Managing Director of Technology at Babcock said: “Babcock is a technology-led business driven by engineering insight. Advanced manufacturing is a core part of our offering, given the complex and critical assets we manage. We’re delighted to have secured the confidence and funding of UK Government to lead this innovative project which will add value across our customer base.”

Tony Burnett, Head of Innovation and Technology for Cavendish Nuclear said: “There has been extensive planning for several years to get to this stage, but we can now develop this ground-breaking technology with our collaboration partners across industry and academia.”

“We’ve initially developed AWESIM for the nuclear sector but any industry developing large scale critical assets involving high integrity welding processes will benefit from what it will deliver.”

A large, factory scale demonstrator to showcase the integrated technologies will be built at the University of Sheffield’s Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre later this year.

The University of Strathclyde’s Advanced Nuclear Research Centre will also develop a non-destructive examination system with Derbyshire engineering company Peak NDT as part of the project.

Cavendish Nuclear working in collaboration Doosan Babcock will provide engineering expertise to ensure the technology is industry-ready.