Nov 13, 2020

Testing New Tech? Made Smarter Has Got You Covered

Smart Factory
Additive Manufacturing
Sam Scane
3 min
New Smart Factory Innovation Hubs offer testing areas for revolutionary tech...

High-Value Manufacturing (HVM) Catapult has partnered with Made Smarter to provide ‘Innovation Hubs’, sandpit environments designed to allow businesses to test out digital manufacturing solutions with minimal risk, by providing ‘hubs’ that will allow them to test these new tech ideas. 

Juergen Maier, co-chair of Made Smarter, makes a note of how important having access to these innovation hubs will be for companies looking to evolve alongside the globe amidst the aftermath of the global pandemic: “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.”

The Made Smarter offering, delivered by HVM Catapult, will be made up of 16 physical and virtual hubs, giving businesses the opportunity to see how effective industrial digital technologies will be in various sectors, ranging from food and drink to pharmaceuticals. Having the ability to test projects in an industry-like environment, with access to expert support, is perfect for the evolving technologies of the manufacturing world. 

A handful of the physical and virtual spaces include:

  • Additive Manufacturing
  • Cybersecurity for Manufacturing
  • Electronics 4.0
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Digitally supported manual operations
  • Digital Automation & Logistics

The list goes on, of course, but these are just a few key hubs. Notably, those listed above may benefit the most, as prototyping for these areas can be costly and take time, but HVM Catapult and Made Smarter are offering these pilot services for free for participating companies. The funding for these hubs was awarded by UK Research and Innovation through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund. 

Dick Elsy, CEO of the HVM Catapult, goes into detail about the unique opportunities this combined effort offers for projects across many fields: “We’re pleased to work with UK businesses looking to harness innovative digital technologies to transform their performance and competitiveness. The Smart Factory Innovation Hubs present an exciting opportunity to apply HVM Catapult’s deep industry knowledge and expertise to projects which require increased speed and agility. 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.”

With this revolutionary option being available to a plethora of industrial sectors, it’s clear that technology really is the way forward, and with the potential for more out-going ideas to be thoroughly tested, this may be the first glimpse into how the world will be shaped by technology.

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May 12, 2021

Gartner: Leaders Lack Skilled Smart Manufacturing Workers

2 min
57% of manufacturing leaders feel that their organisations lack the skilled workers needed to support smart manufacturing digitalisation

With organisations rapidly adopting industry 4.0 capabilities to increase productivity, efficiency, transparency, and quality as well as reduce cost, manufacturers “are under pressure to bring their workforce into the 21st century,” says Gartner.

While more connected factory workers are leveraging digital tools and data management techniques to improve decision accuracy, increase knowledge and lessen variability, 57% of manufacturing leaders feel that their organisations lack the skilled workers needed to support their smart manufacturing digitalisation plans.

“Our survey revealed that manufacturers are currently going through a difficult phase in their digitisation journey toward smart manufacturing,” said Simon Jacobson, Vice President analyst, Gartner Supply Chain practice.

“They accept that changing from a break-fix mentality and culture to a data-driven workforce is a must. However, intuition, efficiency and engagement cannot be sacrificed. New workers might be tech-savvy but lack access to best practices and know-how — and tenured workers might have the knowledge, but not the digital skills. A truly connected factory worker in a smart manufacturing environment needs both.”

Change Management

Surveying 439 respondents from North America, Western Europe and APAC, Gartner found that “organisational complexity, integration and process reengineering are the most prevalent challenges for executing smart manufacturing initiatives.” Combined they represent “the largest change management obstacle [for manufacturers],” adds Gartner.

“It’s interesting to see that leadership commitment is frequently cited as not being a challenge. Across all respondents, 83% agree that their leadership understands and accepts the need to invest in smart manufacturing. However, it does not reflect whether or not the majority of leaders understand the magnitude of change in front of them – regarding technology, as well as talent,” added Jacobson.

Technology and People

While the value and opportunities smart manufacturing can provide an organisation is being recognised, introducing technology alone isn’t enough. Gartner emphasises the importance of evolving factory workers alongside the technology, ensuring that they are on board in order for the change to be successful.

“The most immediate action is for organisations to realize that this is more than digitisation. It requires synchronising activities for capability building, capability enablement and empowering people. Taking a ‘how to improve a day in the life’ approach will increase engagement, continuous learning and ultimately foster a pull-based approach that will attract tenured workers. They are the best points of contact to identify the best starting points for automation and the required data and digital tools for better decision-making,” said Jacobson.

Long term, “it is important to establish a data-driven culture in manufacturing operations that is rooted in governance and training - without stifling employee creativity and ingenuity,” concluded Gartner.

Discover Gartner's Five Best Practices for Post COVID-19 Innovation' in manufacturing.

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