Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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National Engineering Laboratory

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National Engineering Laboratory (NEL) of East Kilbride

1948 The Mechanical Engineering Research Laboratory (MERL) was established at Thorntonhall, near East Kilbride, Glasgow, Scotland. The new laboratory focussed on mechanical engineering research, complementing the work of the CEGB's laboratories in electrical engineering.

The name was changed to the National Engineering Laboratory (NEL); it was moved to a large, purpose-built site in East Kilbride itself. It was part of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

NEL was organised into a number of subject-based divisions, including:

  • Creep Division, an important part of the UK effort to catalogue wear characteristics of materials
  • Control Systems Division
  • Manufacturing Services Division
  • Fluid Power Division
  • Design Analysis Division, which was in the forefront of the use of the emerging technology of Finite Element Analysis (FEA) (the growing need for quality-assurance in FEA led to the foundation of the National Agency for Finite Element Methods and Standards - NAFEMS).

1995 As result of government policy moving many of the state-run laboratories out of direct state control, NEL became part of the German-owned TÜV SÜD group in 1995. NEL now has a mixed portfolio of work from both government and private sectors. NEL holds the national standard for flow measurement.

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