Data cloud and data science academy to unlock a ‘new wave of industrial innovation’

16 December 2021

Technology entrepreneur David Richards is to chair a new commission for the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) to accelerate the adoption of digital technologies such as robotics, sensors, 3D printing and augmented reality within UK industry.

The Digital Meet Manufacturing Commission’s work is expected to increase labour and resource productivity, enhance asset utilisation, and create more accurate forecasting, coupled with reduced maintenance and inventory costs and shorter time to market.

The commission will oversee the development of a new digital infrastructure – the AMRC Data Cloud – to give manufacturers access to “bleeding-edge” data tools and technologies to boost productivity, make informed decisions on carbon output, and drive economic and employment growth. The commission will also oversee the launch of a new data science academy to equip engineers with the latest methodologies to create ‘bilingual’ talent in the workforce: people who understand both data science and the inner workings of manufacturing. 

The AMRC Data Cloud will enable manufacturers to take advantage of the data they generate from their operations and gain new insights with the potential to transform industrial processes, companies and industries. The cloud infrastructure will be created with support from world-leading software vendors including Databricks, Microsoft and WANdisco and will be ready for launch in the first half of the next financial year.

With backing from the AMRC and the Local Enterprise Partnership, training provider EyUp Skills will deliver an intensive new data science programme to teach individuals about the latest machine learning and artificial intelligence techniques using the AMRC Data Cloud. These individuals will be able to help their employers exploit the power of data and digital within their factories. The part-funded course will be available via day release or evening classes.

David Richards, CEO of WANdisco, is chairing the Digital Meet Manufacturing Commission.

David Richards, chairman of the Digital Meet Manufacturing Commission, said: “South Yorkshire was at the heart of the first industrial revolution with the scaling up of steel making. We believe that South Yorkshire can be at the heart of the next industrial revolution by up-skilling manufacturers with bleeding-edge data tools and technologies from leading cloud vendors. The AMRC Data Cloud will open up access to the most powerful computing capabilities in the world and unlock a new wave of industrial innovation in our factories.”

Professor Rab Scott, director of industrial digitalisation at the AMRC, said: “The establishment of the AMRC Data Cloud, hosting IP-unrestricted data and other companies’ data, will create a unique asset to help illustrate to manufacturers and the future workforce the value of data. By also upskilling manufacturing engineers through the data science academy, utilising the AMRC Data Cloud, this ground-breaking collaboration will make manufacturers, large and small, ready to compete in today’s ever-evolving digital landscape.”

Professor Koen Lamberts, president and vice chancellor of the University of Sheffield, said: “We are delighted to be working with David Richards and the new Digital Meet Manufacturing Commission. We believe the work of this new commission can help accelerate the adoption of machine learning and artificial intelligence in the sector and develop a long-term competitive advantage for UK manufacturing. The UK is one of the largest manufacturing nations in the world and has a strong opportunity to take on a leading role in the fourth industrial revolution.”

The commission includes Professor Rab Scott of the AMRC, Richard Wylie, EMEA director of cloud data specialist Azure Databricks, Tracey Johnson, general manager of Barnsley Digital Media Centre, Philippa Glover, managing director of robotics integrator CNC Robotics, Sam Chapman, chief innovation officer and co-founder of telematics data management provider The Floow, Mandy Ridyard, finance director and co-owner of precision engineer Produmax, Chris Dymond, co-founder and director of industry association Sheffield Digital, Helen Kemp, director of business and skills at South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority, and Stuart Green, CEO of media globalisation specialist Zoo Digital.

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