Symposium on low-cost digitalisation for manufacturing SMEs

Hear the latest research and discussions on how low-cost technologies can open up digitalisation to SMEs at this free online workshop on 23 February 2022

Post updated 17/02/2022 **PLEASE NOTE Full agenda released, speakers updated**

This academic workshop on low-cost digitalisation for smaller manufacturing companies (SMEs) brings together a group of thought leaders on the subject to discuss how existing and future approaches can stimulate more SMEs to start digitalisation. 

The workshop on 23 February will feature a panel discussion, chaired by the programme’s leader, Professor Duncan McFarlane, and a series of talks by invited speakers, who will update on the latest research in the area and provide insights on gaps that still need to be filled and avenues for future work.

Open to all, the workshop will appeal to academics working in this area, students and apprentices keen to help SMEs to digitalise, SMEs, trade associations and low-cost solution providers interested in hearing about the latest research.

Organised by the Digital Manufacturing on a Shoestring (Digital Shoestring) programme, the workshop reflects the programme’s aim to increase the digital capabilities of manufacturing SMEs via a series of low-cost solutions. By using off-the-shelf (possibly non-industrial) components and software to address a company’s solution needs, Digital Shoestring’s approach advocates adding capabilities one step at a time with minimal previous digital knowledge or infrastructure required.

The Digital Shoestring programme has developed industry trials, case studies, white papers and publications whilst creating a community of partners that span from Higher Education Institutes, national and regional associations, manufacturers and technology suppliers and solution providers.

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Topics will include

Approaches to digital readiness and needs assessment of smaller manufacturing businesses (SMEs)

Approaches to developing affordable digital solutions for SMEs using low-cost and off-the-shelf technologies

Lessons learnt from developing and trialling graphical environments that support low-cost solution design

Business models behind national SME digitalisation programmes


Speakers include:  

Duncan McFarlane – Professor of Industrial Information Engineering, University of Cambridge, UK (Principal Investigator, Digital Manufacturing on a Shoestring)

Andrew Starr – Professor of Maintenance Systems, Cranfield University, UK

Thomas Kurfess – Professor in Fluid Power and Motion Control, Georgia Institute of Technology, USA

Dympna O’Sullivan – Senior Lecturer in Computer Science, Technological University Dublin, Ireland

Thorsten Wuest – Associate Professor for Smart Manufacturing, West Virginia University, USA

Lau Chee Dai, Assistant Director, Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), Singapore

Benjamin Schönfuß, Initiatives Specialist for Advanced Manufacturing and Value Chains, World Economic Forum, Switzerland

Dimitrios Kyritsis, Professor of ICT for Sustainable Manufacturing, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL), Switzerland

Bhupesh Kumar Lad, Professor in Mechanical Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology Indore, India

Who should attend?

Academics doing research on topics related to the digitalisation of (manufacturing or other) SMEs

Students & apprentices interested in facilitating the adoption of digital capabilities in SMEs

SME manufacturers, trade associations, low cost solution providers, etc., interested in the latest research on such efforts


9:00 – 9:10 (GMT) 






Opening Session (Duncan McFarlane)

Session 1 (Chair: Prof Svetan Ratchev)

09:10-09:30: Helping Singapore SMEs Digitalise in the Manufacturing Space (Lau Chee Dai

09:30-09:50: Digitalisation for SME Manufacturers: A Framework and a Low-cost Approach (Duncan McFarlane)

09:50-10:10: Digital solutions and tools to demonstrate the feasibility low-cost solutions for (manufacturing and other) SMEs : Case studies from IIT Indore (Bhupesh Kumar Lad)

10:10-10:30: Visualisation on a Shoestring: A Low-Cost Approach for Building Visualisation Components of Industrial Digital Solutions (Giovanna Martinez-Arellano)




Session 2 (Chair: Dr German Terrazas)

11:00-11:20 The Emergence of Cognitive Digital Twin: Vision, Challenges and Opportunities (Dimitrios Kyritsis)

11:20-11:40: A Catalogue of Digital Solution Areas for Prioritising the Needs of Manufacturing SMEs (Benjamin Schönfuß)

11:40-12:00: IoT for Manufacturing (Thomas Kurfess)

12:00-12:20: Smart Manufacturing in SMEs: The Struggle & Pathways Towards Success (Thorsten Wuest)



Short Break

Panel Discussion (Duncan McFarlane, Thomas Kurfess, Andrew Starr) 




Session 3 (Chair: Dr Giovanna Arellano)

14:10-14:30: Monitoring Activities of Daily living for Persons with Dementia using Small Retrofitted Low-cost Devices (Dympna O’Sullivan)

14:30-14:50: Monitoring on a Shoestring: Low-cost Health Assessment (Andrew Starr)

14:50-15:10: Designing Shoestring Solutions: An Approach for Designing Low-cost Digital Solutions for Manufacturing (Greg Hawkridge)

15:10-15:30: A Graphical Environment to Support the Development of Affordable Digital Manufacturing Solutions (Lavindra de Silva)


Closing Session (Duncan McFarlane)

To download Agenda, click here>>

Further information

If you have any queries, please email Lavindra de Silva –

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