Proving Factory is being developed by a consortium set-up to allow UK low-carbon technology companies to benefit from shared development and manufacturing resources. These include a new component manufacturing facility in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, officially dedicated during a recent visit by Dr Vince Cable, secretary of state for business, innovation and skills, as well as to a new assembly facility that will be based in the West Midlands.
“Many of our customers are experienced in high-volume manufacture and the procurement of prototypes but struggle with intermediate volumes of a few thousand units,” explained DSD’s managing director, Mark Findlay. “The Proving Factory will allow us to offer a highly effective solution that is also secure and robust.”
The biggest concern of OEM customers seeking low volume supply is the long-term stability of the supply source. With lead partners Productiv, Tata Steel, MIRA and the Manufacturing Technology Centre, and support from Jaguar Land Rover and Schaeffler, the consortium has been established on a strong technical and financial basis. DSD will also have access to Tata Steel’s considerable materials expertise to help optimize the durability, weight and other characteristics of its products. Additional funding comes from the Advanced Manufacturing Supply Chain Initiative.
“For some of our customers, we will manage the complete design-and-supply service; for others, we will just contribute the design and introduce them to the manufacturing team,” said Findlay. “Whichever route is chosen, our membership will bring greater understanding of the manufacturing challenges early in the design process, leading to improved design quality.”
By providing access to the support and experience of major UK manufacturers, the initiative will also allow DSD to progress faster from the initial prototype and pilot stage through to volume production. The first DSD project to pass through the Proving Factory scheme is likely to be a novel 3-speed transmission for electric vehicles which DSD has designed, developed and is integrating into a customer vehicle for launch in 2016.