AMRC to host new Smart Factory Innovation Hub

13 November 2020

The University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) has been chosen to jointly host the Smart Factory Innovation Hub 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 Hub pilot. It will see the HVM Catapult 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 Hub presents 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 service quick-fire feasibility projects for manufacturers and give manufacturing technology providers a chance 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 testbeds 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 facilities, both on the Advanced Manufacturing Park in South Yorkshire, will host the Legacy Systems Innovation testbed. 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 testbed.

Additionally, the AMRC will lead the HVM Catapult work on the Cybersecurity for Manufacturing testbed.

Ryan Diver, Head of the AMRC’s Factory 2050, said: “This is such a fantastic programme and comes at a crucial time for UK manufacturing. The Connected Factory and Legacy Systems Innovation testbeds 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 environment here at the AMRC.”

All 16 testbeds will offer manufacturing and technology providers the following benefits:

For manufacturers:

  • An environment to innovate, develop and de-risk rapidly configurable projects and industrial digital technologies before investing within their own businesses;
  • An opportunity to experience new, integrated technology solutions on real-industry use cases and with expert HVM Catapult support;

For technology providers:

  • An opportunity to test, develop and showcase new technology solutions on real industry example and source feedback to improve their technology offering for the sector.

The Innovation Hub 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 of Made Smarter, said: “As businesses fight their way through this third lockdown, speeding up the uptake and development of new ground-breaking digital technologies has never been more important.

“The new Made Smarter Smart Factory Innovation Hub 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.”

The pilot programme will inform the wider roll-out of the Made Smarter Digital Innovation Hub scheme.

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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