ATI funding for industry-defining ‘smart factory’ production line

10 February 2021

LISI Aerospace (BAI UK) and the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) have jointly secured £975,000 in funding from the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) to unlock productivity gains, new markets and reduce waste in the fastener industry through the integration of Industry 4.0 technologies.

The pilot production line for high-precision aerospace fasteners, at BAI UK’s Rugby facility, will help define the ‘smart factory’ by pioneering the use of machine learning, data analytics, indirect fault detection, and other cutting-edge digital technologies. The aim is to deliver a smart, dynamic manufacturing line that minimises waste, improves worker safety and efficiency, and sets a new benchmark for productivity in the aerospace fastener industry.

“The investment shows that BAI UK are committed to advancing the fastener industry with a unique and impactful approach; the award of ATI funding adds credibility to that ethos,” said Mark Capell, General Manager of BAI UK.

The company is part of LISI Aerospace, the third largest supplier of aerospace fasteners globally, who are searching for proactive steps they can take to lead their industry through innovation in the face of international competition, tighter margins and an ageing workforce.

LISI Aerospace are the third largest supplier of aerospace fasteners globally.

Mr Capell said there is an enormous diversity in the applicability of the investment: “The project goes far beyond the technology, it serves as an investment in the remarkable manufacturers in the UK, the fantastic workers we employ, and does so in a more environmentally sensitive way. The project will reduce wastage and operator interaction; ultimately aiming to provide an all-round better manufacturing process.”

The AMRC, part of the High Value Manufacturing (HVM) Catapult, is an internationally recognised leader in manufacturing research, with specific expertise around Industry 4.0 technologies at its flagship Factory 2050 in Sheffield, the place where digital meets manufacturing.

Gavin Hill, Project Manager at Factory 2050, said: “This project shows the value of Industry 4.0 to all levels of the UK supply chain and has the potential to break down barriers to technology adoption which can push UK manufacturing into a new era.

“Implementing these technologies is also a chance to reduce environmental impact by reducing waste and providing the data for LISI to understand where they are wasting energy and where they can get better life out of tooling and consumables in a more sustainable way.”

BAI UK and the AMRC will work closely with machine builders and tooling providers throughout the 27-month programme of work to help streamline the technology introduction process, as well as investigate how these technologies can add value to both aerospace and the wider manufacturing world.

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