Machine tools firms seek Japanese help

Industry association plans to customise Technology Foresight

By Adele Kimber

The machine tool industry plans an innovative programme of academic/industry partnerships to focus Technology Foresight work on its specific needs.

The Machine Tools Technologies Association plans to bring Japanese experts to the UK in May to conduct technology seminars on their current and future work. The Department of Trade and Industry backed seminars will provide impetus for the partnership programme and pinpoint the scope of future research.

The industry is recruiting a scoping panel of three or four research establishments to identify areas of academic expertise and match these to industrial partners. It will use the Japanese expertise to feed into its work.

`There is no single source of reference to monitor university research. We want to start to pair off academics and manufacturers,’ said Malcolm Taylor, president of the MTTA.

The association sees the seminars, which will focus on such technologies as high-speed spindles, linear motors for high-speed movements and hard metal cutting technologies, as an opportunity to identify key advances in Japanese technology and prompt British companies to bridge gaps.

Manufacturers including Cincinatti Milacron, Bridgeport, Asquith Butler and the 600 Group gave a presentation to the DTI last month to win its support. The programme has funding from the DTI and the EPSRC.