Our long standing capability in manufacturing systems has led to numerous research and development projects and vibrant masters degree programmes. Our aim is to develop sustainable solutions to real-world industry problems. We do this by adopting a systems approach to identifying and tackling root causes in an evidence-based manner.

We use our capability in manufacturing systems to address a broad range of business problems in competitive manufacturing operations and services within Aerospace, Transport and Manufacturing.

We work in a wide-range of industry sectors including leisure, food and motorsport, as well as our traditional areas of expertise in automotive and aerospace manufacturing. 

Past clients have included Woburn Safari Park, Lola Composites and Renishaw. We regularly carry out significant projects with Airbus, BAE Systems and Ford.

About our research

The manufacturing systems capability is focused on improving the practice of competitive manufacture leading to improved business performance. This exploits Cranfield’s distinctive position in the university sector as being ‘close to practice’.

The work is tuned in to relevant business issues which underpin our research and provide a clear indication of the relevancy of the work. The focus is to build on those synergies that exist between the academic, industrial and policy contexts to develop market leading practices.

Our academics pride themselves on leading and partnering on exciting research with organisations such as the UK’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and Technology Strategy Board (TSB) as well as engaging in EU and direct industry funded programmes.

Working with us

We have a passion for impact on practice. Our staff are research leaders with a pride in the relevance of our activities. These values are shared by the research and taught students that we recruit. Between staff and students we tackle industrial problems to provide solutions as well as feed into current and future research programmes.

We engage with businesses in a variety of ways. This can start with simple and fast mechanisms such as individual staff providing consultancy on a per diem basis. Students on our taught modules can be used to rapidly solve specific live problems. At the other end of the spectrum are long-term research partnerships to bring early research challenges to pre-production state.

Short engagement includes company staff presenting their expertise to our students as well as setting problems at the beginning of the week of a taught module by web conference and receiving a presentation at the end of the week of outcomes of their analysis of the problem. We also run short courses which maybe bespoke or more general.

Medium term engagements include contracting individual four month student projects and three month team projects to address significant strategic challenges. Our students develop significantly during these periods and our collaborating companies gain rapid development of projects using our students supported by our academic experts.

Longer term we regularly partner with industry on development of processes, technology and people. We work with companies to gain funding through UK and EU government funding to address changes on production system design to through to process technology development.

Examples are six-36 month Knowledge Transfer Partnership programmes (KTPs), Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) fundamental research and Technology Strategy Board (TSB) technology transfer programmes or fully industry funded research fellows. The agenda is set in partnership between Cranfield and the company (companies) and will be determined by the financial commitment and the technology readiness level.

Many of our research students are registered part-time whilst maintaining the employment in the partner companies. This enables long-term development of staff as well as embedding new capabilities within our partner companies.

Clients and partners

Our manufacturing systems activities are informed by challenges and opportunities in practice leading to research, technology transfer, teaching, consultancy and short course activities. We partner with leading companies as well as universities and non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

Our industry partners have included primes/OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) in:

• Aerospace (Airbus Operations, Rolls-Royce)
• Automotive (Ford, Nissan, Toyota)
• Food and drink (Weetabix)
• Innovative SMEs (Duraweld, Marshall Amps)
• Large industrial sector leaders (Edwards, J&J Depuy)
• Software developers (Lanner, IES). 

The programme at Cranfield complemented my undergraduate education in that it bridged the gap between academia and industry. This enabled me to transition smoothly and successfully into a professional setting.

Jose Rippoll, Manufacturing Engineer, Rolls-Royce