Last week saw thousands of manufacturers, industry leaders and technology providers descend upon Exhibition Centre in Liverpool for Digital Manufacturing Week 2021.
The event gave the Digital Manufacturing on a Shoestring project a chance to showcase its low-cost digital solutions and receive direct feedback from a variety of industry players.
Produced by The Manufacturer magazine, Digital Manufacturing Week (DMW) is a national festival of advanced manufacturing. A packed schedule of masterclasses, keynotes, roundtable discussions and live demonstrations help delegates unpick the key business challenges of today. The Institute for Manufacturing (IfM) plays a key part in the event – gathering information on the latest industry trends and sharing outcomes from new research projects, including Shoestring.
Smart Factory Expo
Alongside other exhibitors showcasing the latest technology, process and thinking behind Industry 4.0, Digital Manufacturing on a Shoestring set up a mock-factory production line at DMW’s Smart Factory Expo.
The Smart Factory Expo brings together different types of technologies enabling the digital manufacturing revolution.
Over two days, the Shoestring team – Dr Greg Hawkridge, Anandarup Mukherjee and Kate Price Thomas – carried out live demos showing how low-cost digital solutions could help improve efficiencies on a simulated gearbox production line.
Three Shoestring solutions were demonstrated: Job tracking (giving real-time visibility on the status of all the jobs in production); Automated parts completeness checking (ensuring all the right parts are collated before being sent to be assembled); and Equipment monitoring solution (monitoring the use of a screwdriver used to assemble the products).
Full details on how this live factory demonstrator was put together can be found here.
The Shoestring team spoke with over 100 manufacturers who were keen to find out how to add low-cost technologies to their existing production lines. The team also met with technology providers keen to make their low-cost kit compatible with Shoestring, as well as regional business innovation teams who were excited to see how Shoestring could help facilitate, quickly and easily, more digitalisation in small- and medium-sized companies in their regions.
Dr Greg Hawkridge says the live demos have helped companies, particularly small- and medium-sized enterprises, realise that small digital changes can make a big difference:
“It’s been really great to see how many small companies have been inspired to try something different. Thanks to Digital Manufacturing on a Shoestring, we have been able to demonstrate that digitalisation doesn’t need to be that complicated and that there are some simple things that SMEs can do to start the process.”
Greg also delivered a keynote at the SME Growth Summit about Shoestring and how SME manufacturers can tap into the benefits of digitalisation without the costs and risks inherent in large-scale solutions.
He was joined by Craig Mayoh, Operations Director of Kemdent, a Shoestring partner that manufacturers dental products, who described the impact of Shoestring on Kemdent’s processes:
Kemdent piloted a Shoestring temperature monitoring solution on a production line. It was deployed with fantastic support from the IfM. For any company thinking about trying out a digital solution – Shoestring is a good place to start. It has made Kemdent more confident in our approach to digital manufacturing.
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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