The Coventry-based Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) has worked in partnership with the University of Birmingham, Loughborough University and a team of industrial partners to develop the Factory in a Box, an industrial scale demonstrator, showcasing how advanced industrial digital technologies can benefit manufacturers and their supply chains.
The launch event brought together industry thought-leaders, academia and the MTC's Smart Manufacturing Accelerator team, which delivers integrated manufacturing and supply chain improvements based on industrial digital technologies. Delegates saw the Factory in a Box demonstrator working on complex pipe-work manufacture and assembly for the thermal energy industry, but the principles are applicable to a wide range of manufacturing sectors.
The Smart Manufacturing Accelerator process helps companies design, develop and operate a remote Factory in a Box and provides tools to adopt advanced manufacturing technology in a traditional manufacturing facility.
The Factory in a Box demonstrator - which is part of the £60 million Innovate UK-funded Energy Research Accelerator (ERA) programme - was formally launched at the MTC in front of an audience of nearly 300 manufacturing leaders. Presentations demonstrated how their businesses could benefit from the adoption of a smarter, more digital approach. The Factory in a Box demonstrates a number of industrial digital technologies in an autonomous, rapidly deployable, remote controlled, modular unit.
Dr Hannah Edmonds, technology specialist at the MTC said, "A Factory in a Box provides for a disruptive supply chain solution for manufacturing enabled by the latest digital technologies. It can provide a rapid route to market for manufacturing innovations, while quality, product variation and maintenance can be controlled remotely."
She added, "Our Smart Manufacturing Accelerator team can assess manufacturing businesses and their supply chains to plan, design and implement innovative manufacturing solutions, either in the Factory in a Box scenario or a more traditional factory setting."
Professor Martin Freer, Director of the ERA and Director of the Birmingham Energy Institute at the University of Birmingham, said that after several years of research and development, the MTC had delivered the manufacturing dimensions of the project to optimise a manufacturing supply chain.
"This is a great opportunity for British manufacturers to grow their businesses by using technology across the spectrum," he said.
The MTC was founded by the University of Birmingham, Loughborough University, the University of Nottingham and TWI Ltd. The MTC’s industrial members include some of the UK’s major global manufacturers.
The MTC aims to provide a competitive environment to bridge the gap between university-based research and the development of innovative manufacturing solutions, in line with the Government’s manufacturing strategy. The MTC is part the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, supported by Innovate UK.