The company's objective
The Weir Group PLC is an engineering solutions provider headquartered in Glasgow, employing more than 14,000 people across its global operations.
The business provides equipment and services in three main markets - mining, oil and gas, and power. Weir has a proud history of developing ground-breaking equipment for its served markets and innovation is a key pillar of its strategy. Technological differentiation in the minerals, oil and gas, and power markets can provide Weir with competitive advantage and enable it to continually enhance the experience of its customers.
With a strong research and development framework already in place, Weir identified collaboration with the University of Strathclyde as a critical opportunity to develop 'blue sky' technologies for all its served markets and add value to the existing innovation efforts taking place across the Group. This led to the establishment of the Weir Advanced Research Centre, where senior Weir engineers work side-by-side with leading engineering academics to develop product solutions and core technology positions which can be leveraged across the Group.
Since the centre was established in 2011, it has generated valuable, patent protected technologies.
The Weir Group had worked with the University of Strathclyde for many years on a range of consultancy and research projects, so it was natural to seek the advice of recognised experts at the University.
This partnership has resulted in significant levels of research funding and the recent formation of the Weir Advanced Research Centre (WARC). The WARC will be an integral part of the Technology and Innovation Centre (TIC) at Strathclyde which revolutionises the way researchers in academia and industry collaborate and innovate.
The collaborative research projects undertaken by the University and the Weir Group include the development of a Research Exploitation Partnership (REP). REPs are a prime mechanism of Strathclyde’s Company Escalator Programme, which is backed by a £2.6 million award under the EPSRC’s Knowledge Transfer Account (KTA) competition, EPSRC’s Pathways to Impact programme and the Scottish Funding Council’s Knowledge Transfer Grant.
REPs enable company staff and University staff to be cross-seconded for research-based, knowledge exchange (KE) projects.
Creating competitive advantage
Strathclyde academics have been working in partnership with the Weir Group on a number of R&D activities, including:
- mechanical design reviews
- manufacture process reviews
- material testing and assessment programmes
- new product mechanical/strength design projects
- structural integrity assessment
- product life optimisation
- computational fluid dynamics investigation of existing and new design concepts
Existing research and development provided by the REP and CPD have made a significant contribution to existing and new design concepts, new product design and development. This has created technical and economic advantage in highly competitive international markets.
The Weir Group is funding the WARC with an initial investment of £1.9 million over three years and continuing investment thereafter. This funding creates four PhD studentships per year, underscoring the Weir Group’s commitment to education and advancing engineering skills in the UK. The WARC broadens and extends the University’s relationship with the Weir Group by developing parallel knowledge exchange activities that are beyond the scope of our initial research agreements, further enhancing this company relationship.
The knowledge transfer on which our partnership is based, works both ways. There is the transfer of advanced research outcomes and staff skills from Strathclyde into industry design and manufacture; in return, Strathclyde staff gain invaluable insight into industry best practice.