The MTC are part of the Smart Factory Innovation Hub that enables businesses to test the latest digital manufacturing solutions in a broad range of applications, before investment.
The Made Smarter offering, delivered by the HVM Catapult, is open to all manufacturing sectors from food & drink, to pharmaceuticals or aerospace and uses the HVM Catapult’s world-class equipment and facilities. With open access to expertise from technology centres and innovative tech providers from across the UK, selected companies will get all the support they need to address live business challenges and move key projects forward. Funded by UKRI’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, there is no cost to businesses participating in this pilot.
If selected, businesses can use the Innovation Hub to test digital applications and early-stage technologies in a safe, industry-like environment with expert support. This cuts the risk of deploying digital technologies on your production line.
This initiative is funded by:
The DigiProp testbed was developed via a collaboration between Dowty Propellers, GE Aviation, MTC, AMRC and NCC. The project focused on proving-out new product designs and smart factory technologies using a digital infrastructure that flows through design, manufacture, service and repair.
A structured methodology was applied to identify the most relevant Industry 4.0 technologies and develop them into compelling demonstrators. This process has helped create a number of reusable tools, assets, reference material and methodologies that are now being leveraged in subsequent projects.
The Smart Manufacturing Accelerator (SMA) is a framework for delivering integrated manufacturing and supply chain solutions enabled by the application of industrial digital technologies. The MTC can deliver Factory in a Box manufacturing system solutions, or elements of the industrial digital technologies therein, through the SMA for new customers and applications.
A Factory in a Box is a rapidly deployable, remotely managed, modular manufacturing supply chain network enabled by industrial digital technologies. It was built by the MTC, in collaboration with partners in industry and academia, to showcase how the industrial digital technologies will transform your manufacturing and supply chain in the future.
Factory in a Box manufacture is a rapid route to market for products, with a faster ROI on its manufacturing innovation and new disruptive business models for the supply chain. The framework can assess and evaluate your manufacturing and supply chain needs. Utilising the expertise of the MTC and working with leading industrial technology providers, the SMA helps plan, design and implement innovative manufacturing and supply chain solutions.
Factory in a Box 2 is a Mixed Reality demonstrator (MR FIAB) which combines a unique set of cutting-edge systems to deliver first fully functioning simulation of production process visualised as a hologram. It presents a batch production concept of a chemical compound: Phase Change Material (PCM), which is a substance that releases or absorbs sufficient energy at phase transition to provide useful heat or coolness. Users can enjoy a high-quality Mixed Reality experience delivered by Microsoft HoloLens which enables full monitoring of assets and process parameters in real time.
MR FIAB demonstrates the concept of virtual commissioning of any kind of production process. It can simulate and validate potential production lines, enabling users to visualise and perform interactive non-expert analysis of variability and "what-if" scenarios. Embedded dynamic testing utilises physics modelling techniques which enable better sensor feedback and response as well as an adaptive learning process and quality control.
Full production process simulation performed by Siemens PlantSim is supported by Siemens PLCSIM Advanced controlling virtual equipment. A production operator has full control over the production processes using the Siemens WinCC SCADA system. The utilisation of Siemens Sematic IT Manufacturing Execution System enables full traceability, stock management and trends analysis for better decision making. Integration of these systems on one platform creates a truly portable demo presentation unit, capable to deliver breath-taking virtual experience.
Specialists in IIoT and Industry 4.0 at the Manufacturing Technology Centre have developed the first stage of Europe's first smart factory demonstrator for the manufacture of electronic assemblies, helping electronics manufacturers “go digital”, transforming their businesses, and meeting the demands of an increasingly challenging market.
To power the smart factory demonstrator, MTC is using IPC Connected Factory Exchange (CFX). This is a standard developed by the IPC Connected Factory Initiative Subcommittee, which enables industrial machines to communicate with other machines and systems, across manufacturing facilities including the supply chain, using standardised machine communication message sets. IPC CFX provides the baseline powering the development of the MTC demonstrator test bed for electronics manufacturing. Any electronics manufacturing business is now able to experience and trial digital technologies in a risk-free environment, without disrupting day-to-day production.
The project is supported by OEM and technology supplier members of the MTC from a variety of industrial sectors, ensuring the project has industry steer as well as the latest in technology, integrated and proven within the demonstrator. This includes technology such as augmented reality (AR).
The National Centre for Additive Manufacturing (NCAM) accelerates the uptake of Additive Manufacturing (AM) by developing the technology and systems required to address the key challenges within the AM value chain. As part of the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC), NCAM is also proud to be home to The European Space Agency (ESA) AM Benchmarking Centre (AMBC).
Our facilities provide a fantastic environment for the development and demonstration of additive manufacturing solutions on an industrial scale, offering flexibility to our growing membership, research partners and clients. With initial funding from the Aerospace Technology Institute and Innovate UK, the NCAM supports the effective exploitation of all AM processes, by bridging the gap between market requirements and process reality.
The centre provides a unique facility enabling companies to assess and develop the end-to-end capability of AM processes, from powder production to fully finished high integrity components, in a risk free, independent environment. NCAM’s vision is to develop a robust UK AM supply chain, develop best in class AM process chain technology, and to improve the uptake of AM by UK plc.
The Small Component Assembly Loop (SCALP) demonstrator at the MTC is a reconfigurable automated manufacturing cell, designed to demonstrate how automated manufacturing systems can be rapidly reconfigured and repurposed. The cell is contained in a simple to relocate “box”, facilitating rapid reconfiguration of workshop facilities and larger production systems.
The current capabilities of SCALP are intended to support and accelerate the uptake of automation in assembly and inspection processes through process and technology development. It is an exemplar of a flexible solution with larger potential for innovation and resilience in the production of small to mid-size components. To date, it has been demonstrated in applications for the electronics and automotive industries, e.g., gearbox assembly, through-hole component assembly/soldering, and machine vision-based assembly inspection.
SCALP is a moderately successful, but complex-to-programme, standalone cell and is planned, in the future, to enable more agile reconfigurability through simulation, off-line programming and remote monitoring and control. The hardware and software platform of SCALP make a superb platform to support the UK’s technology supply chain with fast-track testing and development of smart end-effectors, vision systems for process and quality inspection, connectivity, control and robot programming technologies to offer wider industry more resilient and future-proof production solutions.
The Virtual Rapidly Reconfigurable Factory Environment (RRFE) is a virtual demonstrator developed within the Digital Manufacturing Accelerator (DMA) programme. The DMA is a new initiative, in partnership with the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, aimed to support organisations by accelerating the adoption and commercialisation of digital manufacturing solutions to make make viable small batch and reconfigurable processes able to respond faster to demand needs, and deliver better products.
The demonstrator, focused on process engineering, provides a platform where organisations can reduce the development timescales and costs of new equipment and production lines. Based on coupled physics simulations, virtual controls and simplified user interfaces, users can predict the effect of upstream changes on the process time and variables of one or more particular processes, allowing an in-depth analysis of system uncertainty and impact of process adaptations on the overall system. Future applications will allow the user to incorporate complex physical processes and parameter optimisation to further reduce times and costs associated with physical trial stages.
Whether you’re developing a new production technique, want to upgrade your existing kit or would like to understand how data can better inform your decision-making, the Smart Factory Innovation Hub could be for you.
For more information, and to register your interest, please visit: hvm.catapult.org.uk/smart-factory-innovation-hub.
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