We invest heavily in our people in order that R&D can support some of the finest minds in the industry. Yet innovation is more than just creative thinking. It relies on a deep understanding of our customers’ businesses and the marketplaces they operate within. We recognise that market demands mean that our customers’ needs are constantly evolving, so we work with them closely, in order to fully understand their complex requirements. We invest in sustainable collaborative business relationships. Our innovative steel products and solutions allow them to fully exploit design and application possibilities, supported by competent and accessible technical experts.
No challenge is too great. Using state-of-the-art technology we can respond creatively and proactively to the challenges our clients face, driving continual improvements to the quality, performance and range of our steel solutions. Twenty-first century ‘metal solutions’ demand twenty-first century infrastructure, so we continually upgrade our manufacturing processes and use the very latest methods in process analysis and design, product design, modelling/simulation, and prototyping and application development. Our large-scale test facilities allow new products to be tested on an industrial scale, whether that is packaging manufacture, the production of blanks for car parts, welding of components, or corrosion testing of structures.
Our commitment to Research and Development is evidenced in our workforce: we employ almost 1,000 researchers across Britain, the Netherlands and India and work in close collaboration with universities and research institutes across the globe.
Our innovation funnel benefits from encouraging the in-flow of a wide range of ideas with staff being allocated time to develop these for potential inclusion in the main R&D programme. This approach recognises the creative imperative of innovation and allows our people to trial a variety of ideas in order to find the perfect synergy between inventiveness and strategy that leads to true advancement. Not all ideas will be successful – but that is part of the research challenge and allows our researchers the space to continually demonstrate their expertise.
At Tata Steel, we are proactively building the future of steel – and more. With an eye always at least 10 years ahead, we anticipate the challenges our industry – and our supply chains – will face so we are uniquely placed to ensure that our products are future-fit and responsive to change.
We promote a culture that is open, inclusive and inspirational. Our goal is to deliver tangible commercial benefits that are measurable and applicable in real-life situations. The work we do creates genuine commercial advantage for our clients and for ourselves; and the diversity inherent to the role means that it is uniquely satisfying.
Our Research & Development activity relates to every stage of the production process, from the preparation of raw materials to the processing of the final product by Tata Steel customers. Our specialised areas of research expand across the full spectrum of metal processing and production, including steelmaking and casting, rolling, coating, welding and applications research, in sectors such as automotive, construction, aerospace and packaging, offering our people an enormous portfolio of projects.
We are heavily focused on process improvements and new product development and our success in these areas is dependent on our in-depth understanding the raw materials we use and how they are processed. We invest in research into the way that steel interfaces, bonds and reacts in diverse situations and this commitment to the fine detail ensures we work on the right projects in pursuit of customer satisfaction and product added value.
We have a team working on completely new steelmaking processes. This breakthrough technology is a £multi-million and multi-partner European programme called HIsarna and will reduce CO2 emissions by up to 25% in our steel plants of the future.
Recent commercial successes have included the development of advanced side door-impact beams for the automotive industry. Our innovations have improved shock absorption and crash performance for a variety of clients and, most importantly, enhanced the safety of millions of drivers and passengers around the world. We have also developed fire resistant steel products for use in the building trade. Effective up to temperatures of 600⁰C, this product meets structural fire resistant requirements in large engineering structures such as airports, stadia and railway stations.
Tata Steel Research & Development operates from centres in three countries, providing a top class capability for world-wide manufacturing and commercial operations. In NL we have the IJmuiden Technology Centre on the site of our integrated steelworks, in India there is the integrated Research & Development and Scientific Services group and in the UK we are consolidating our historic R&D activities onto the University of Warwick campus.
The relocation to the University of Warwick is expected to be completed by 2018 and will bring together the research excellence and expertise of both Tata Steel and the University, in brand new, state-of-the-art facilities. This partnership will ensure that the UK remains at the forefront of the international iron and steel research agenda and provide exhilarating career opportunities for our people.
The University of Warwick are separately establishing a £20m Advanced Steel Research Centre to be led by Professor Sridhar Seetharaman, who serves as the Tata Steel Royal Academy of Engineering Chair in Low Carbon Materials. The new Centre will feature cutting-edge research facilities, including advanced characterisation facilities and will allow Tata Steel, in partnership with the University, to continue to innovate and develop sustainable products that drive competitive advantage for their clients and partners.
The Centre’s research will span the disciplines of materials science, physics, chemistry, mechanical and chemical engineering, manufacturing, mathematics, statistics and computer science to address challenges across the full range of steel application sectors, including automotive, construction, energy & power, engineering and lifting & excavating.
The University campus also plays host to significant Tata Group presence from Jaguar Land Rover, Tata Motors European Technical Centre, and the nearby Tata Technologies, providing great opportunity for group research collaborations.
It is expected that there will be a need to fill around 90 vacancies during the relocation period, in sectors including coatings, application (including CAD), and heavy welding (construction).