MTC supports Warwick tunnel boring team in global competition

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Experts at the Coventry-based Manufacturing Technology Centre are supporting and sponsoring a team of University of Warwick students in their bid to build the fastest and most accurate tunnelling machine.

With the MTC’s help the team has made the final 12 out of 500 entrants and will compete in the final in Las Vegas later this month. The challenge is to create a 30-metre test tunnel as fast as possible with the highest accuracy.

The Warwick Boring Team is supported by the MTC and fellow High Value Manufacturing Catapult centre, WMG. MTC engineers have supported the team in developing and building their Tunnel Boring Machine prototype from the early design stages.

MTC experts helped with the novel cutting head design, while supporting the remaining design, using design for manufacture and assembly techniques, ensuring that the cost of manufacture and assembly is low while achieving the highest performance for the harsh underground environment.

The MTC team also assisted with the design of the control and navigation systems, developing an innovative navigation system using state-of-the-art mobile robotics and control systems. Finally, the MTC team introduced the team to technology providers and an accompanying supply chain.

Associate director at the MTC, Danny McGee said, “Despite the very short timescale of the project and multiple technical and supply chain challenges associated with the Covid-19 pandemic, the Warwick Boring Team have excelled having managed to secure all system components needed for the assembly and test the prototype boring machine”

Their machine was successfully tested at Constructionarium in Norfolk, and is being further developed for other competitions in the USA and Europe subject to funding being secured.

The machine has been developed with an “easy to assemble” approach and is capable of boring continuously without stopping every few feet, thanks to an innovative tunnel lining system. It is expected to be capable of digging 80 per cent faster than standard machines, while keeping production and operating costs low.

The MTC was founded by the University of Birmingham, Loughborough University, the University of Nottingham and TWI Ltd. The MTC’s industrial members include some of the UK’s major global manufacturers.

Part of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, supported by Innovate UK, the MTC aims to provide a competitive environment to bridge the gap between university-based research and the development of innovative manufacturing solutions.

Pictured: The Warwick Boring Team tunnelling machine developed with the help of the MTC

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