University of Sheffield helps Oman create innovative manufacturing research hub

Representatives of Sohar University meeting with AMRC executive director, John Baragwanath OBE and AMRC major projects development manager, Emma Hutton at AMRC Factory of the Future.

Moves to create a state-of-the-art engineering research facility in Oman have taken a major step forward thanks to input from experts at a leading UK university.

A team from the University of Sheffield's Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) have spent the past two years working with colleagues from Sohar University in Oman, with the aim of establishing a manufacturing research centre of excellence.

According to His Excellency Engineer Ahmed Al-Dheeb, the Undersecretary of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry in Oman, the project will help drive industrial innovation and allow the sultanate to move towards a more diversified economy.

AMRC Oman, known in-country as Intaj-Suhar, will focus on advanced machining, specialist assembly, material development, optimised design, rapid prototyping and engineering testing, making it the first facility of its kind in the Gulf when it opens in 2018. The overall aim is to support strategic development in the supply chains of the aluminium, steel, composites and polymer industries.

Phase one of the project will focus on advanced manufacturing to support industrial innovations, along with manufacturing tools to support small and medium-sized enterprises. Phase two will involve private sector investments and create a new industrial hub in the region. AMRC Oman will offer advanced apprentice training and act as a centre for the delivery of improved manufacturing engineering training programmes up to PhD level.

It's hoped AMRC Oman will also help to attract foreign direct investment by international manufacturers and support the downstream development of high-technology, small and medium enterprises that produce high-value products under the Designed and Made in Oman brand.

Professor Barry Winn, vice-chancellor at Sohar University and chairman of the new Oman AMRC steering committee, said: "Our vision is to support the development of the manufacturing sector and enable provision of technology capability in advanced manufacturing through world-class facilities in design, machining, prototyping and proving pre-production."

John Baragwanath, AMRC executive director, added: "It has been a privilege to work with Oman in this remarkable venture. As the originators of the AMRC model, we have been able to show them how world class research can help manufacturers of any size add value to their business by introducing advanced techniques, technologies and processes.

"What we are doing chimes perfectly with their vision of helping Oman become ‘a knowledge nation'."