Fife College joins Digital Manufacturing on a Shoestring

Fife College has been named partners of the Digital Manufacturing on a Shoestring programme.

The link-up is part of the College’s drive to increase STEM skills, ensuring the digital needs of the Fife region, and Scotland more widely, are met.

The first activity aligned with the project took place on Tuesday 22 June when the College hosted an online event supported by SMAS (Scottish Manufacturing Advisory Service) and ESP (Energy Skills Partnership).

Delegates heard from Will Bridgeman, the Chairman of Warren Services, who began the virtual event by explaining what the Shoestring Project is and how it aligns with his company’s vision and values.

Buchanan Orthotics, a SMAS client who has just deployed a live job tracking Shoestring solution, shared how the company has benefited; and Rachel Tulloch, Engineering Programme Manager at ESP, and Stephen Ayton, Academic Head of Engineering, Science, Mathematics and STEM at Fife College introduced how Fife College plan to support with implementation and upskilling.

The Shoestring project presents a huge opportunity for companies and local colleges to work together to advance digitalisation in industry. Colleges can both showcase the potential of low-cost digital solutions in manufacturing, and help deploy these in companies, in the process upskilling employees. In addition, students benefit from the effective project-based learning opportunities which in turn inspire the next generation to follow a career in manufacturing.

Stephen Ayton the Academic Head for Engineering, Science, Mathematics and STEM at Fife College said:

We are delighted to partner with such a prestigious education institute on this innovative and timely project. The University of Cambridge’s Digital Manufacturing on a Shoestring Programme is perfectly aligned to our own ambitions to drive an increase in STEM skills, both here in Fife and across Scotland. As a training provider for Scotland, we enjoyed hosting our first online event as part of the programme this month. The online workshop was a great first chance for SME manufacturers to see example solutions and engage with our team who will be on hand to support with implementation and upskilling.

Delivered by the University of Cambridge’s Institute for Manufacturing (IfM), the Digital Manufacturing on a Shoestring programme is developing design guidelines, standards, and interactive software which will help enable small manufacturers to develop low-cost digital solutions from a catalogue of “Shoestring-ready” hardware and software technologies.

Professor Duncan McFarlane, Shoestring Programme Lead, said:

Two of the key plans for the Shoestring programme are regional adoption and training development. The proposed relationship with Fife College is helping us on the road to both of these.

Alex Campbell, Scottish Manufacturing Advisory Service’s lead for the project, said:

I believe the Shoestring approach is a breath of fresh air. It offers relatable solutions to SMEs whilst providing the opportunity to work closely with our fantastic college network. This will give the win-win situation of improving productivity and skills within industry whilst inspiring the next generation into a career in manufacturing.

Scottish Manufacturing Advisory Service Practitioner, Gerry Borge, has started working with businesses in the area on the project. He added:

Digital Manufacturing on a Shoestring is an outstanding project that supports SMEs in the use of readily available digital technologies. Improvements are then implemented on a low-cost basis and will support growth and productivity. This is a vital step in supporting SMEs to enjoy the benefits of advanced manufacturing and encouraging people to get involved during this very exciting time for manufacturing.

In the autumn, Fife College will invite companies to attend an on-site showcase of Shoestring demonstrations, with the aim to follow up with a rollout of Shoestring solutions in industry. Attendees at the event will be encouraged to support the initiative and help shape the future of further events with other colleges across the country.

If you are interested in finding out how your company or organisation can get involved in the Shoestring programme, or would like to know more, we would love to hear from you!

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