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New Aston Martin Virage

New Aston Martin VirageDuring a jointly hosted Automobile Division and Northern Area of the IMechE Yorkshire Region Event on 22nd March 2011, Aston Martin Lagonda's Director of Product Development, Ian Minards, unveiled the all new Aston Martin Virage fresh from the Geneva Motor Show.

The evening started with a presentation made on the behalf of students from King James School to the IMechE Yorkshire Automotive Division as thanks for the Division’s support in their Greenpower Goblin electric kit car project. Greenpower is an initiative which promotes and advances engineering and technology to young people while also focusing on sustainability, teamwork and the community.  King James’ reached the National Final in October 2010!

This Aston Martin Event was an opportunity for the students to see how engineering could be developed into a possible career through Ian Minard's Technical Lecture. The evening was a great success with 150 people (80 members and 75 non-members) turning up to listen to Ian in what was his third consecutive annual IMechE technical lecture at the JTC600 Brooklands Aston Martin Dealership in Leeds.

His technical lectures have always been enthralling with great technical content.  In this latest lecture, Ian described in detail the virtual verification tools and processes Aston Martin use to engineer new cars, mentioning many new product launches currently in progress.

Using the unique surroundings of the JCT600 Aston Martin Dealership and the various Aston Martin vehicles on New Aston Martin Viragedisplay, as well as the brand new Virage model, Ian demonstrated the unique challenges and engineering solutions involved in developing an Aston Martin.  As always, Ian was open to questions and his enthusiasm of the product, vast knowledge of the engineering process and Aston Martin’s heritage was clear for the audience to see through his responses.  I will never look at windscreen wipers without fascination again as the result of one such answer!

The successful evening was rounded off with a raffle to raise funds for the Bloodhound SSC programme of activities being run in schools around the country, culminating in a world land speed record attempt by the Bloodhound Super Sonic Car.  The Institute of Mechanical Engineers is a major sponsor of the Bloodhound SSC programme.  The total raised from the event and matched by the IMechE was a total of £200. 


A 4-door Aston Martin!

Continuing his support for the Yorkshire Centre Ian Minards from Aston Martin Lagonda returned for the second year to JCT600 Brooklands and this time presented the 4-door Rapide, with plenty of opportunity for members to have a look and even try it our for size.

Modern Truck Technology

In March 2010 Volvo Trucks presented a lecture outlining the needs of a modern trucker and discussed how manufacturers are addressing these. A tractor unit was also on show for members to explore.

Bio-fuels - where do they come from?

In March 2010 members were treated to a tour of the University of Leeds Thermofluids labs in addition to a talk from the National Non-Food Crop Centre on the manufacture of today's bio-fuels.

What Has Formula One Ever Done for Us?

The Automobile Division's National Chairman presented his address to Yorkshire members in February discussing how F1 techniques have been applied to speed development, encourage innovation, deliver complex projects on time and make a profit.

December 2009

AD Members learn more about Bloodhound SSC, Huddersfield

Members and guests attended a presentation by Prof Dave Crolla, Vehicle Dynamics Consultant, on the Bloodhound SSC project at the University of Huddersfield. Dave, the former Professor of Automotive Engineering at the University of Leeds, originally became involved in the current World Land Speed Record Vehicle, Richard Noble's Thrust SSC supporting the development of the rear wheel steering system, and has since been recruited to support the new 1000mph Land Speed Record attempt, working on all aspects of the vehicle's dynamics, stability and control.

Dave presented an insight into the project's mind-boggling exploration of the boundaries of the laws of physics and engineering as we know them today. With forces of 50,000g at the wheel rim and the measured mile being covered in 3.5 seconds, the complexity of the engineering and potential project achievements becomes apparent.

Although there is a huge mountain to climb, and fantastic progress has been made, the team is keen to promote this latest project as an 'Engineering Adventure' where the primary aim is not to develop the fastest land vehicle the world has ever seen, but to 'inspire, prepare and motivate the next generation, who will be building and living in the Low-Carbon World', the by-product of which will be the fastest vehicle in the world.

With hundreds of schools and universities already involved in the project, there is certainly a momentum of interest that has the potential to positively affect how the next generation view engineering as a profession.

For full details of the Adventure visit the Bloodhound SSC website.

150 Years of Engineering at David Browns

David BrownsOn Tuesday 12 October 2010 about 40 IMechE Regional and Automobile Division members and visitors, including some former employees, gathered at the Park works of David Brown Gear Systems' history and future.

The evening began with a walk down the conference suite picture gallery charting the company from 1860 to 1990, leading to a refreshment buffet in the Exhibition room. Members and guests were then treated to a rerun of the film made for the company's centenary in 1960 showing film of all the major products, some Aston Martin adverts and a historical reminder of how British manufacturing looked and worked at the time.

The formal part of the evening began with a welcome from Western Area Chairman, Daniel Iddon, who introduced Graham Penning OBE, the Group Technical Director. Graham began by showing aerial photographs of the company's Yorkshire factories and explaining how there had been 10,000 employees in 1960 of which 4,000 were at the Park works. Even then the products were impressive in scale and precision with gears over 4-5m in diameter but true to 30 microns over a 1-2m length. Sir David Brown, grandson of the founder, sold the company to its management in 1990 and in 1998 the company was bought by Textron, which ran it for the next 10 years. In 2008, the DB businesses were bought by Jim McColl's Clyde Bowers Group (Jim began his career as an apprentice with Weir Pumps) and there are now plants and offices in 13 countries with 1,200 employees including 450 in Huddersfield.

David Brown makes gear systems for the main battle tank, power generation, oil and gas, mining and marine, up to 14m diameter gears being manufactured in the South African facility. Major developments are happening in the Far East and India with an exciting new JV, Shinri David Brown, in China.

After the review of history and global presences, Graham looked into the future and explained how alternative energy is driving the need for new and more transmissions. Wind turbines offer a technically extreme environment for gearboxes and some have to work faultlessly 40m underwater without having been tested in those conditions during manufacture. The rate of new product development is unrelenting with the pace of change in China driving 'design to delivery' times down to just a few months. The solar energy side of the business requires, typically, 50,000 synchronised gear systems controlling mirrors that harness the sun's energy in a single array, while new rail systems in China and India offer much new business but with increasing technical rigour such as 348 km/h trains.

Guests learned that David Browns is responding to this rapid change with investment in research and education. Mr Penning described the David Brown "Gear Academy" founded jointly with the University of Huddersfield that will launch 8 or more Masters graduates each year from now on, under the banner "changing the world by changing minds". There are already foundation courses and specialised modules that are delivered in DB and to partner organisations, with 88 courses already taught and 1355 attendees so far.

The lecture concluded with a look at some of the highly technical and confidential research projects into materials, treatments, pitting and finishing before Graham took a Q&A session from the floor. After the formal part of the evening, guests were taken on a tour of the factory, some areas working 2 and 3 shifts, to see an impressive amount of gear production, testing, measurement and tooling.

October 2009

Formula Student in Yorkshire, Huddersfield

Formula Student - YorkshireThe two local Formula Student teams presented to members on their performance to date and plans for the coming years. The teams have very different plans with Leeds planning to compete with their 2009 car in California in 2010 and also begin the design of a new car for 2011, whilst Huddersfield are 'starting with a clean sheet' to avoid repeating errors from the 2009 car and using the slogan 'Keep It Simple Stupid' to remind them not to over-complicate. Members were impressed by the skills these young engineers are developing by being involved in the competition including planning and financial skills as well as engineering. In addition both of the 2009 cars were in the building got members to view. 

September 2009

Turbochargers. The answer to power, economy, emissions and more!

Huddersfield Members of the Yorkshire Centre and the Yorkshire Region Northern Area were given an entertaining talk by Pierre French and Nick Sharp of Cummins Turbo Technologies Ltd. They covered the history of turbocharger development before explaining Variable Geometry Turbochargers.

May 2009

Summer Outing to Kelham Island Museum, Sheffield

Members were treated to a guided tour of the newly refurbished museum by the Director and also a talk on the history of car manufacture in Sheffield.

April 2009

AD members share UK debut of Aston Martin DBS Volante 

DBS VolanteYorkshire Automobile Division members and guests had an exclusive preview of the Aston Martin DBS Volante in April when Ian Minards, Aston Martin Director of Product Development and newly elected Fellow, brought a car only previously seen at the Geneva Motor show, and presented recent developments at the company to a meeting of the AD Centre.  Over 80 members and guests, including the Yorkshire region of the Aston Martin Owners Club, gathered at JCT600 Brooklands Aston Martin dealership in Leeds where the showroom had been converted into a lecture theatre for the evening.

JCT600 Brooklands is one of 119 Aston Martin dealers worldwide and has the largest showroom area of all of them, making it an ideal venue for a technical lecture surrounded by every current Aston Martin model in the range for the members to examine.  JCT600 Brooklands generously sponsored the event and provided refreshments for everyone before and after the lecture.

Ian Minards presented the heritage of Aston Martin and described the development of the current range of vehicles including detailed examples of the use of innovative design, validated CAE and new materials engineering that make the Aston Martin range, with its VH construction, so special.  He gave members tantalising previews of a forthcoming model and in the wide-ranging Q&A, talked candidly about Aston Martin’s achievements in CO2 reduction, global sourcing and its racing programme; this includes a challenge to win Le Mans outright in 2009 and emulate the last works victory exactly 50 years ago.

Commenting on the evening, Yorkshire AD Centre Chairman, Stuart Allan, said “this was a most informative evening, full of technical information as well as some excellent video and simulation clips”.  Ian Minards complemented the centre on a well-organised meeting and said “it was a really enjoyable evening with a great mix of people”.

The Centre is already planning a return visit for Mr Minards to talk to members again next year about the new Rapide model which is currently at the prototype stage.

April 2009 (postponed from February)

Engineering the Future in a Changing Climate, University of Huddersfield

The National Chairman of the Institution's Automobile Division discussed macro scale energy alternatives and looked at automotive solutions which will be employed in future car and commercial vehicle designs.

March 2009

Viscount Weir Award

Viscount WeirThe hosts for the 2009 competition were Weir Valves & Controls and the judging panel awarded a prize of £200 to Arun Vijayakumar. Arun is a graduate engineer at Cummins Turbo Technologies in Huddersfield and his presentation was 'Variable Inertia Rotor System for a Turbocharger'. Arun also received a trophy from the Centre Chairman Stuart Allan. The trophy was given to the Centre for presentation to the competition winner by the Centre Chairman in 1989.

The competition, for Young Members of the Institution, will next be held in June 2011.

March 2009

Bio-fuels for Automotive Applications, University of Huddersfield

A talk on the increasing use of bio-fuels and the technical challenges they pose.

November 2008

Design Consideration for Motorcycle Chassis Performance, University of Huddersfield

In addition to a very informative talk from Triumph Motorcycles on the specialised design requirements of motorcycles a local dealership bought along some of the machines for members to view.

October 2008

Visit to Ginetta Cars, Leeds

A group of 35 members were welcomed into the Ginetta Cars factory in Garforth, Leeds and as well as seeing the design areas were allowed full access to look around the new for 2008 G50 race car and others. A return visit for those who missed out has been arranged for November 2009 so make sure you register early to avoid disappointment.

October 2008

Developments in Full Toroidal Traction Drive Technology, University of Huddersfield

A technical lecture from a UK based technology company who focus solely on the design and development of full-toroidal traction drive transmission systems for a wide variety of market segments.

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