Creating a competitive advantage through R&D
A Sheffield Forgemasters International case study

Page 1: Introduction

The origins of Sheffield Forgemasters can be traced back to 1805. In that year, Edward Vickers, a traditional miller, made the largest steel ingot of its time. He manufactured (cast) steel bells, which were exported around the world. Over 200 years later, Sheffield Forgemasters International Ltd (SFIL) is the largest independently owned Forgemaster and one of the oldest steel businesses in the...
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Page 2: The purpose of innovation, research and development

In an engineering business, innovation is a core activity. It is important for its survival and can help the business remain competitive in changing markets. Innovation can take many forms. It does not simply cover new product development. Innovation can be applied to product renewal or the design of new processing technologies. It is important to understand the difference between invention and...
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Page 3: Research

Research is a detailed study of a subject. It can lead to new ideas, new information and new understanding that can be used to solve a problem. One part of RD26 Ltd is RD Testing, a commercial facility that provides mechanical and metallographic testing and analysis services. Specialising in the testing and analysis of steels, its customers include steel foundries, forges, rolling mills and...
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Page 4: Development

Development involves turning ideas generated from research into a commercial product or process. The research stage might generate numerous ideas and a business then needs to select the appropriate ones to develop commercially. RD26 Ltd has a track record of turning ideas into commercial solutions, products and processes. ‘We have created new processes for manufacture in civil nuclear, such...
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Page 5: Challenges and benefits of R&D

R&D is not without its challenges. These include the risks associated with the costs, the timescales and technical issues in each project. For the oil platform project, SFIL faced several technical challenges. Its R&D team needed to understand the dimensional changes that would occur in a casting of extreme size and shape. Heat treatment also presented challenges. The structure was the...
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Page 6: Conclusion

R&D is a core business activity particularly in the engineering and manufacturing sectors. It helps UK organisations compete globally, through the development of innovative manufacturing and technological products, processes and materials. It helps UK engineering companies expand and contributes to UK economic growth.R&D is embedded within SFIL’s culture. It drives the innovation...
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