The University of Birmingham and Loughborough University are entering into an exciting collaboration with the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) to develop the International Thermal Energy Manufacturing Research Accelerator (ITEMA); co-funded by Government, industry and the universities themselves.
ITEMA will be leveraging Industy 4.0, and other novel manufacturing approaches with aim of scaling up and modularising the production of technologies that will improve the efficiency of thermal energy systems.
What is Industry 4.0?
Industry 4.0 has been heralded as the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ and promises to transform the way we manufacture products; improving productivity and competitive advantage. It aims to leverage digital technologies to create cyber-physical systems and informatics to create ‘Smart Factories’ of the future.
Cyber physical systems sense and monitor physical processes using the ‘Internet of Things’, to create a virtual copy of the physical world and make decentralised decisions based on comparing data on manufactured output to the specifications within the virtual model. Cyber physical systems provide automation, but are also designed to work with humans where there input to the manufacturing process is required.
What is Factory in a Box?
The 'Factory in a Box' concept will allow manufacturers globally, which are missing key components from local suppliers, to soon have a British technology solution delivered to their doorstep.
The mobile factories, which can be shipped in a container, will use next generation Industry 4.0 technology, such as smart sensors, super-fast broadband and big data to measure and control production processes remotely. T-ERA and the MTC believe this will reduce the significant expense of setting up stand-alone production facilities, while also giving UK companies the opportunity to establish manufacturing footprints in new markets relatively quickly. Factory in a Box could also be the answer to increasing the UK's ability to commercialise the R&D it has developed, offering greater speed to market and flexible production opportunities.