Heriot-Watt University and Caledonian Alloys were presented with the Knowledge Transfer Partnership Engineering Excellence Award supported by the Academy. This award was in addition to the best Scottish Knowledge Transfer Partnership award earlier this year. The Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) is a national programme sponsored by the Technology Strategy Board.

Professor Jim Ritchie (Innovative Manufacturing Research Centre) and Professor Neil Towers (Logistics Research Centre) represented Heriot-Watt while Andreas Holter represented Caledonian Alloys. Andreas Holter was the Supply Chain Manager at Caledonian Alloys until recently when he joined Heriot-Watt while completing his PhD.

Caledonian Alloys recycles specialist alloys used in the aerospace and gas turbine industries. At the start of the project the company was in a period of rapid growth developing a global supply chain. Existing logistics processes were no longer adequate and were limiting further growth, particularly the expansion into a new market, the US.The challenge for this KTP was to relieve this bottleneck and create a logistics management system to facilitate further expansion. The project sought to optimise logistics processes, integrate logistics with customers and derive cost savings and strategic benefits. Net profit increase was expected to be £145k during the project and £2150k during the three years following completion of the project.

The outcomes greatly exceeded the expectations of the project. The KTP project contributed to making Caledonian the world leader of superalloy recycling services. A bespoke web-based transport management system was developed to provide supply chain visibility, manage transport performance and reduce cost. In the area of deep-sea containerised transport management, this system has been found to outperform leading blue-chip companies. Caledonian’s largest market is the US where they compete with local alternatives. Timely delivery is essential in this commodity market, but difficult to achieve in global supply chains with transit times exceeding four weeks. The KTP revolutionised delivery reliability, eliminating the competitive disadvantage Caledonian suffered from compared to the local US competition. In addition to creating substantial cost savings, the KTP contributed to winning new large contracts.

The project has far exceeded the original expectation. The original net profit increase was £145k during the KTP project, while the outcome was £2100k. Post KTP net profit increase was expected to be £2150k, current projections suggest £3900k, a total of £6000k. Having invested only £100k, Caledonian enjoyed a 60:1 payback ratio.This project had a wide range of benefits for Heriot-Watt and the two departments involved, the Logistics Research Centre and the Innovative Manufacturing Research Centre. Both centres’ profiles were raised through a number of conferences and publications. HW gained 7 publications and 5 student projects. New teaching material was developed adding to the quality of under- and postgraduate teaching. Caledonian Alloys and Heriot-Watt are considering to collaborate further on future KTP projects. Andreas Holter managed the KTP project whilst undertaking a PhD in logistics with HW and is expected to complete it this year. For further information see: www.ktponline.org.uk/awards_2010/Engineering.aspx