AMRC to host new Smart Factory Innovation Hubs

13 November 2020

The University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) has been chosen to host two new Smart Factory Innovation Hubs as part of a pilot scheme to accelerate growth in the manufacturing sector through better use of digital technologies.

The High Value Manufacturing (HVM) Catapult and Made Smarter, the UK’s manufacturing digitalisation movement, have announced the HVM Catapult-led Made Smarter Smart Factory Innovation Hubs pilot. It will see HVM Catapult’s network, which includes the AMRC and Nuclear AMRC, offer companies the opportunity to reduce the risk of implementing new digital manufacturing solutions within their businesses.

“The Smart Factory Innovation Hubs present an exciting opportunity to apply the HVM Catapult’s deep industry knowledge and expertise to projects which require increased speed and agility,” said Dick Elsy, CEO of the HVM Catapult.

“We are uniquely positioned to offer a sandpit environment for quick-fire feasibility projects for manufacturers and a testbed for manufacturing technology providers to develop, demonstrate and test new applications. Working together with Made Smarter and businesses of all sizes, we look forward to stimulating growth through better use of digital technologies in manufacturing.”

The 16 physical and virtual Innovation Hubs will allow businesses to test quick-fire projects and early stage technologies in a safe, industry-like environment with expert support. The Made Smarter offering, delivered by the HVM Catapult, will give businesses from sectors like food and drink, pharmaceuticals or aerospace an opportunity to see how they can address live business problems using industrial digital technologies.

The AMRC's Factory 2050 is on the Advanced Manufacturing Park in South Yorkshire.

The AMRC’s Factory 2050 and Factory of the Future, both on the Advanced Manufacturing Park in South Yorkshire, will host the Legacy Systems Innovation Hub. Factory 2050, the UK’s first state-of-the-art digital factory entirely dedicated to conducting collaborative research into reconfigurable robotics, digitally-assisted assembly and machining technologies, will also be the Connected Factory Innovation Hub.

Ryan Diver, Head of the AMRC’s Factory 2050 and Integrated Manufacturing Group, said: “This is such a fantastic programme and comes at a crucial time for UK manufacturing. The Connected Factory and Legacy Systems Innovation Hubs open up many opportunities for companies to discover how digital technologies can drive their manufacturing environments forward into Industry 4.0.

“In partnership with our Digital Meets Manufacturing campaign, which introduces digital technology providers to manufacturing challenges, companies will be able to develop, de-risk and then validate solutions in the manufacturing testbed and sandpit environments here at the AMRC.”

Each Smart Factory Innovation Hub will offer:

  • Sandpit environment for businesses to innovate, develop and de-risk rapidly configurable projects and industrial digital technologies before they are deployed in their own facilities
  • Technology testbed a ‘plug and play’ space for manufacturing technology providers to test, develop and showcase their solutions on industry use cases. The technology testbed will use the HVM Catapult’s world-class equipment and facilities, and allow providers to test and iterate minimal viable products
  • Demonstrators of integrated technology solutions where businesses can experience new technologies. The Innovation Hubs will showcase real industry use-cases and facilitate live-learning in an expert environment

The Innovation Hubs pilot will come at no-cost for participating companies. The funding has been awarded by UK Research and Innovation through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.

The AMRC's Factory of the Future shop floor.

Juergen Maier, Co-Chair Made Smarter, said: “As businesses fight their way through this second lockdown, speeding up the uptake and development of new ground-breaking digital technologies has never been more important.

“These new Made Smarter Smart Factory Innovation Hubs will give smaller companies access to world class expert support to turbo-charge new digital innovation and projects. This will deliver that much needed boost to both individual businesses and the economy as a whole, as companies push forward to create the new ’must have‘ technologies of the future in order to compete in the global marketplace.”

Chris Courtney, Manufacturing Made Smarter Challenge Director, said: “Digital technologies have the power to radically transform how we manufacture and deliver the products and services of today and the future. This is more vital than ever given the current challenges of the pandemic and climate change and there are enormous opportunities to innovate across all manufacturing sectors.

“We have world leading industries, a powerful scientific and research community, a vibrant technology sector and these innovation hubs are being designed to bring that powerful coalition together.”

For more information, please visit the HVM Catapult website: www.hvm.catapult.org.uk/innovation-hubs

We are actively looking for tech providers and end users to participate in this work, please email Jon Stammers to register your interest: j.stammers@amrc.co.uk

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