Newswise — Until now, smaller manufacturing companies have missed out on the productivity benefits of digital technologies and data-driven solutions. Too many manufacturers don’t know where to start, and lack the skills required to deploy and use digital solutions. The costs are perceived to be high and the return on investment is unclear.
A consortium, including WMG at the University of Warwick, has been awarded funding through the Government’s Manufacturing Made Smarter Challenge to tackle this problem by developing a Smart InforMation PLatform and Ecosystem for Manufacturing (SIMPLE).
Project SIMPLE will bring the benefits of digitalisation to manufacturers for whom the technology, skills, and business benefits are currently inaccessible. The project will deliver a platform that is fast to deploy, easy to use, cost-effective, and versatile. And it will be supported by an ecosystem that addresses skills and training requirements.
The consortium includes a wide range of end-user, academic, and technology partners to provide the necessary breadth of expertise:
- Innovare Systems (construction) is representative of SMEs seeking to improve their operations through the deployment of digital capabilities, but have a low skill level in the domain, bare bones IT capabilities and low levels of automation
- Lear Corporation (automotive) is representative of global organisations challenged by their operational complexity, the diversity of technologies deployed in production, fragmented software landscape and data repositories
- The UK Battery Industrialisation Centre is seeking a vendor independent solution that can support their short-term objectives and scale up rapidly to support multiple production campaigns in the future
- WMG, University of Warwick is a world leading research and education group, transforming organisations and driving innovation through a unique combination of collaborative research and development, and pioneering education programmes
- The Science and Technology Facilities Council is a government agency that carries out research in science and engineering. The focus for project SIMPLE is on knowledge representations and knowledge models relevant to manufacturing
- Fully Distributed Systems (FDS), AI Idea Factory and 4thWall Virtual develop engineering tools, industrial software components and supply related services.
The benefits of SIMPLE will be validated via deployment of the platform at the end-user partners’ facilities - demonstrating the value in three different use cases. The deployment of a skills training system at WMG, University of Warwick, will validate the skills and training proposition.
Project SIMPLE is co-funded by the businesses in the consortium and the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK, through the Manufacturing Made Smarter Competition. The Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) Manufacturing Made Smarter Round 1 Competition offers grant funding investment in projects that focus on the use of industrial digital technologies (IDTs) to transform the productivity and agility of UK manufacturing. Of 34 applications submitted, project SIMPLE is one of 14 projects approved following independent assessment and expert review.
Dr Daniel Vera, from WMG at the University of Warwick comments:“At WMG, we will be focussing on making sure that manufacturers become fluent in deploying and using digital systems. Our training platform will mean that manufacturers can confidently use data-driven methods and digital solutions to optimise their processes, which in turn can speed up their project delivery and significantly improve their business operations.”
Jason Powell of Innovare Systems adds:“The technology is important as it offers greater operational transparency, which allows greater scrutiny of performance whilst maintaining the production activities’ live information. Additionally, this system can also be used as a tool to drive production efficiency through optimising performance which will increase capacity. We are expecting this technology to boost productivity by 10% even from the early deployment.”
Matt Patching of the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre said:
“The SIMPLE toolset will help us deliver battery technologies and processes to industry at a rapid rate. The flexible design will be compatible with our range of manufacturing processes, ranging from electrode and cell assembly, to module and pack, and to consistently present the relevant information. The scalable nature means that new promising technologies in the battery field can be implemented into our digital systems as quickly as it can be installed at our site.”
The project will engage the wider manufacturing community to ensure the SIMPLE platform and methodology addresses the widest set of manufacturers’ needs.
About WMG, University of Warwick
WMG is a world leading research and education group, transforming organisations and driving innovation through a unique combination of collaborative research and development, and pioneering education programmes.As an international role model for successful partnerships between academia and the private and public sectors, WMG develops advancements nationally and globally, in applied science, technology and engineering, to deliver real impact to economic growth, society and the environment.WMG’s education programmes focus on lifelong learning of the brightest talent, from the WMG Academies for Young Engineers, degree apprenticeships, undergraduate and postgraduate, through to professional programmes.An academic department of the University of Warwick, and a centre for the HVM Catapult, WMG was founded by the late Professor Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya in 1980 to help reinvigorate UK manufacturing and improve competitiveness through innovation and skills development.
About Innovare Systems
As the only provider to have complete design to delivery capability in-house, Innovare Systems is uniquely placed to simplify the offsite construction process to help clients manage time, cost and risk more effectively. Innovare Systems’ aim is to make it easy for clients to achieve the time and cost saving benefits of offsite construction and make full use of the greater flexibility offered through a joined-up design, manufacture and installation solution with its i-SIP panel system.
About Lear Corporation
Lear, a global automotive technology leader in Seating and E-Systems, enables superior in-vehicle experiences for consumers around the world. Lear’s diverse team of talented employees in 39 countries is driven by a commitment to innovation, operational excellence, and sustainability. Lear is Making every drive better™ by providing the technology for safer, smarter, and more comfortable journeys.
The £130 million UK Battery Industrialisation Centre (UKBIC) is a pioneering concept in the race to develop battery technology for the transition to a greener future. The unique facility provides the missing link between battery technology, which has proved promising at laboratory or prototype scale, and successful mass production. Based in Coventry, the publicly-funded battery product development facility welcomes manufacturers, entrepreneurs, researchers and educators, and can be accessed by any organisation with existing or new battery technology – if that technology will bring green jobs and prosperity to the UK.
In addition to funding from the Faraday Battery Challenge through UK Research and Innovation and the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, UKBIC is also part-funded through the West Midlands Combined Authority. The project has been delivered through a consortium of Coventry City Council, Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership and WMG, at the University of Warwick. UKBIC was created in 2018 following a competition led by the Advanced Propulsion Centre with support from Innovate UK
About Fully Distributed Systems
FDS specialises in the development and integration of control and software solutions for manufacturing industries. In the last 5 years, FDS has developed expertise in the development and deployment of Industrial IoT integration platforms and common manufacturing and production data models, in line with the requirements of Industry 4.0 and digital manufacturing solution development.