An automated, self-contained miniature factory, developed by the Universities of Birmingham and Loughborough in partnership with the Manufacturing Technology Centre, is set to help SMEs access the next generation of manufacturing techniques.

Called Factory in a Box (FIAB), the initiative provides intelligent factories that can be distributed, linked and centrally controlled. Contained within a unit the size of a shipping container, the factories are quickly deployable, flexible to use and can be rapidly scaled. They are fully digital and can be linked to a central control centre with remote monitoring and predictive maintenance capability.

FIAB is part of a new Smart Manufacturing Accelerator, set up by the partnership to bring smart, digitally-driven manufacturing within the grasp of SMEs. Known as the fourth industrial revolution, or Industry 4.0, these methods have the potential to revolutionise the way manufacturing is done, providing state-of-the-art manufacturing, but also connecting intelligently to the supply chain and customer to optimise production.

The Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) together with partners University of Birmingham and Loughborough University have taken this principle to create the FIAB manufacturing approach. This is a project supported through the Energy Research Accelerator project, funded by Innovate-UK. This project has potentially significant impact within the Midlands region in terms of delivering jobs, growth and productivity.

Speaking about the Factory in a Box (FIAB) initiative, the University of Birmingham’s Professor Martin Freer, who is Director of the Birmingham Energy Institute and the Energy Research Accelerator said: “Factory in a Box is a ground-breaking initiative which an exciting opportunity for small companies to rapidly transition from technology developer to providing a product stream to market. It supports small companies developing step change energy technologies in having a real impact in terms of the global transition to a low carbon energy generation.”

Industry thought-leaders, academia, partners and stakeholders will come together on Wednesday 13 March 2019 for the official launch of the SMA and FIAB Box demonstration.

Hosted by the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) in Ansty Park, Coventry, the one-day event is designed to encourage collaboration, networking and learning. Delegates will receive a unique opportunity to experience the innovative implementation of industrial digital technologies.  

Attendees will be given a live tour and demonstration of the FIAB, discover how industrial digital technologies can change the way businesses operate, as well as access interactive workshops and high-level presentations.

Research from the University of Birmingham has been applied by the MTC and Energy Research Accelerator (ERA) to deliver the SMA and FIAB which has been funded by Innovate UK.     The SMA supports those at the forefront of adopting digital manufacturing within their organisations.

How to register

The event is free to attend but with limited spaces available, registration is essential. Please visit

Once you’ve registered, you will be sent an e-mail to the address provided approximately six weeks before the event, where you will be able to book your preferred workshop(s) and an exclusive tour of the Factory in a Box.


For further information please contact Beck Lockwood, Press Office, University of Birmingham, tel 0121 414 2772