Tinsley Bridge recognises MERI as major contributor
Thursday 05 December 2013
MERI has been recognised by the Tinsley Bridge group as a major contributor in the creation of their ultrahigh strength steel. The Sheffield vehicle suspension manufacturer is working with defence suppliers such as BAE. The new products being developed are a response to urgent requests for improvements to vehicles used in Afghanistan and Iraq by the British Army, such as the Warrior Infantry fighting vehicle.
BAE required improvements to the protection of the Warrior vehicle, as well as its overall mobility. In consequence the weight of these vehicles has significantly increased resulting in much higher loads being transmitted into the vehicle suspension. Key to ensuring good off road performance, the suspension must be strong and durable to maintain vehicle ride height.
Working with the research and innovation team at MERI, Tinsley Bridge is developing new ultrahigh strength steels that achieve the extreme performance levels required for suspension torsion bars operating in defence environments. The key innovation is to develop steels that stay ductile and do not shatter at high strength levels- therefore improving the Warriors suspension.
Mark Webber, Managing director of Tinsley Bridge was keen to explain the importance of finding a solution to this issue: 'We are working closely with Sheffield Hallam University on how you can heat-treat steel and change the micro structure right down to the nano scale manipulation of materials. You get paid for solving problems rather than producing a commodity. And with this project we were given the opportunity of saving the lives of British soldiers - and you can't put a price on that, can you?'
In the commercial vehicle markets, rising prices in fuel and new emissions regulations being brought into place by the end of 2013 are driving the need for vehicle improvements. As a result, vehicle manufacturers are looking to compensate for the extra weight of complex engine management, as well as exhaust treatment modifications needed to meet the new emission regulations. Truck manufacturers are investing in the research of weight saving alternative materials and need suppliers such as Tinsley Bridge to innovate new weight saving solutions, something that MERI has been able to contribute to.
The company - which now has 174 employees - has forged close links with the University and Mark openly acknowledges the role that university-engagement has played in finding these real world business solutions. 'A key reason we have been able to do what we have done is because we have found effective collaborations with universities. The scale of investment you need in facilities to do research is well beyond the ability of companies like ours.'
'We are finding a real appetite within universities and we are now looking forwards to a great future of making researching, designing and making products which are the best of British in every sense.'