Wednesday 21st January 2009 by C. Freeman
A team of Sixth Formers came up with a solution to an engineering problem during a three-day workshop at the University of Northampton. The students have to reduce the amount of metal currently wasted during the tube-making process at Corus as part of their project for the Engineering Education Scheme.
The nationwide scheme aims to get students working on real life problems faced by industries and come up with effective ways of solving them. They have to do a presentation to a panel of professionals in the spring.
The Brooke Weston team, comprising James Doherty, Ilse Lee, Diana Gormley and Edward Lockwood, have visited Corus where steel tubes are formed and welded on a continuous production line. The welded seam is automatically trimmed using a tungsten carbide blade which breaks periodically and needs replacing.
James said: 'The tube probably moves about five metres a second and the blade can break about every hour. It usually only take a minute to change, but with the speed of the tube moving through quite a lot of tube is wasted. The untrimmed tube then has to be scrapped. The task is either to basically minimise the loss of the steel or reduce how often the blade breaks … basically anything that will save Corus as much steel as possible.'
During the three-day residential the students came up with an effective solution, a rotary tool which holds three cutting blades, allowing a new one to be turned into position every time one breaks. The students have now spent about 50 hours each on the project. During their time at the University they also got to see how other groups from the region were tackling their tasks and had lectures on project writing which will stand them in good stead when formulating their presentation.
Their work is overseen by teacher Nigel Barrett and Peter Lindner, an engineer from Corus. Mr Barrett said: 'The group have made really good progress and Peter thought it was a good and effective design.'