The reality and the potential of digital fabrication for the UK economy will be examined in a new research project by the Centre for Technology Management's Technology Enterprise Group, funded by the ESRC and EPSRC.
Dr Simon Ford, from IfM's Centre for Technology Management, explains why we need to take a clear-eyed view of this much hyped technology if it is to realise its potential.
Governments around the world have high hopes for Additive Manufacturing (AM) also widely referred to as 3D printing. But if it is to have the economic impact they are looking for, there needs to be a better understanding of both the huge opportunities AM presents as well as the barriers that may prevent it realising its potential.
Method can produce strong, lightweight materials with specific surface properties.
Today, we commence a month-long focus on research on advanced materials. To begin, materials scientist Professor Mark Blamire and engineer Professor Bill O'Neill discuss how research in Cambridge is helping to advance the material world.
Head of NanoManufacturing at the IfM, Dr Michael de Volder explains why manufacturing carbon nanotubes is so difficult and so important.
Are you happy with your smartphone? Bill O'Neill, Professor of Laser Engineering and Director of the IfM's Centre for Industrial Photonics isn't.
Professor Bill O’Neill, Head of the Centre for Industrial Photonics, discusses the current role that precision industrial lasers and other technologies are playing in increasing capability and productivity in manufacturing.
From wind farms to data storage, from deodorants to floor tiles, tribology is involved in many aspects of modern life yet most people have never heard of the word, let alone know what it means.
Dr Ronan Daly, from the IfM?s Inkjet Research Centre and founder of the new Fluids in Advanced Manufacturing Group, explains why taking a cross-disciplinary approach to advanced manufacturing research has the potential to deliver solutions to some of the world?s most pressing problems.
Friction is immensely important to us ? without it, for example, we could not walk or even crawl yet it is only 50 years since a special word tribology was first coined to describe its study. Professor Ian Hutchings who leads the Inkjet Research Centre at the IfM has recently had a paper published on Leonardo da Vinci and his studies of Friction.
Understanding fluids and their behaviour is key to developing new manufacturing processes and a wide range of applications.
Printing electronics into ceramic building materials could offer a functional and aesthetic way to bring solar energy into structures, and encourage the adoption of environmental sensors in buildings.
How can manufacturers develop sophisticated customisable products at scale, which are affordable both for the manufacturer and for the consumer? IfM researchers have been collaborating with NSG Pilkington on late-stage customisation for large curved glass surfaces.
Michael De Volder tells us how a Friday afternoon experiment led to research on a new low-cost battery design that can be charged directly by light without a separate solar cell or power converter.
Where will we make things in the future and how will the concept of a factory evolve? IfM's Professor Duncan McFarlane says that how we answer these questions is changing and is affecting our priorities for automation.
Interaction between robots and humans will become an important feature of the industrial workplace of the future. But what sort of impact will this have on society — and what will that mean for how the technology evolves? The IfM’s Cyber-Human Lab takes a look.
Big Data and the new analytics
Big data has been touted as the 'new oil for business', representing incredible potential financial rewards. How should they go about using it, asks Professor Andy Neely.
The internet, social media, cloud computing and mobile devices have created previously unimaginable quantities of data. People talk about 'data being the new oil', a natural resource that companies need to exploit and refine. But is this really true or are we in the realm of hype?
Aircraft that work together to solve complicated mathematical problems and airports with more flexibly used runways could be the future of flying, according to studies by University of Cambridge engineers and their industrial and academic partners.
Failing to jump aboard the Big Data train will leave businesses in the dust of newer, smarter start-ups, says Andy Neely in a blog article in The Telegraph.
Dr Mohamed Zaki discusses the pitfalls of relying on simplistic numerical values to measure customer loyalty.
The Distributed Information and Automation Laboratory (DIAL) at the IfM are working with companies such as Boeing, Exxon, Electrolux and Laing O'Rourke to develop smart ways of using data to improve performance and increase resilience.
Dr Alexandra Brintrup shares key learnings from recent practical examples demonstrating how AI and data analytics can be used in supply chains to reduce disruption and improve efficiency.
Leading experts advise how businesses can best prepare for the months and years ahead, and any future disruption that may come.
Manufacturing firms have had a rocky 2020, yet some have not only survived but thrived, re-organising and experimenting with their operations during the pandemic. Jag Srai explains how businesses can learn from the 'survival of the fittest firms'.
Business model innovation
Dr Doroteya Vladimirova from the Centre for Industrial Sustainability contends that manufacturers need to start doing business differently if they are to create value for themselves and for society as a whole ? even if that means working with some of their competitors.
The Cambridge Value Mapping Tool has been developed and refined over the last five years. It uses a structured and visual approach to identify 'value uncaptured' in the form of failed value exchanges: value missed, destroyed, surplus, and absence.
Dr Chander Velu, head of the IfM's Business Model Innovation research programme, explains why the time has come to put business model innovation under the microscope.
New digital technologies are supposed to bring us unprecedented efficiencies and new opportunities for value creation. So why has the productivity of major economies been slowing down over the past 10 years?
As people across the UK gradually return to offices, a widely available, low-cost technology can help business protect their employees and ensure a COVID-safe workplace, write Dr Veronica Martinez and Dr Mahsa Honary.
New business models are essential to unlocking the economic growth potential of digital technologies, and offer a way out of rising debt-to-GDP ratios.
Dr Chander Velu considers how the next wave of digital technologies will impact businesses, and shares a framework for targeting the potential value including innovating business models.
Business strategy & performance
Small firms with big ideas are a critical component in driving the nation towards a knowledge economy – but SMEs are often left out of the innovation system. Dr Nicky Athanassopoulou discusses how universities can work with small businesses to boost innovation.
Dr Imoh Ilevbare, Product Manager for IfM Education and Consultancy Services, describes the IfM's approach to developing business tools and processes from cutting-edge research.
IfM in-house facilitators Dr Imoh Ilevbare and Dr Diana Khripko share their experience and insights on how they design online workshops that achieve the desired outcomes for our partners.
Dr Clive Kerr and Dr Rob Phaal from the IfM's Centre for Technology Management (CTM) are looking at better ways to design and use management tools and toolkits.
Design for transformation
James Moultrie looks for universal appeal when beauty in is the eye of the beholder.
Additive manufacturing (AM) technologies have resulted in significant changes to the way we design complex components. But the uptake beyond prototyping and small scale production remains slow.
Dr James Moultrie considers how manufacturers could be using these new additive manufacturing technologies more effectively for series production of components.
Find out how IfM’s Executive & Professional Development (EPD) team, in partnership with Atos and Paderborn University, has developed an award-winning programme to develop technology experts as business leaders.
New digital technologies are radically changing the ways firms manufacture products, the business models they adopt, and even how they innovate. At a national level, digital technologies promise to reshape national manufacturing systems and redefine sources of competitive advantage.
Professor Andy Neely, Head of the IfM and the Cambridge Service Alliance, on how industry leaders should focus on five key areas if they want to survive the journey to a digital future.
Most of you have probably heard the Internet of Things, or the IoT, mentioned but have you ever wondered what it means and where it all began?
The speed at which technologies are now evolving and computational power is increasing means that digital manufacturing is now coming of age and with it widespread innovation and disruption.
Dr Jag Srai, Head of the IfM's Centre for International Manufacturing (CIM), and his team have developed a new way to help companies embrace the challenges and opportunities of digitalising the extended supply chain.
As part of the Pitch-In project, we are creating a platform that allows systems to 'talk' autonomously through the use of IoT and agent technology.
In this article, Professor Duncan McFarlane introduces a new research project into low-cost digital solutions for manufacturing SMEs.
Professor Duncan McFarlane provides an update on the progress of this high-profile project, developing low-cost digital solutions for SME manufacturers, with examples of some of the components developed so far.
Nicky Athanassopoulou, Head of Solution Development at IfM Education and Consultancy Services, offers insights into how companies can make the most out of new and emerging technologies.
Cost-effective, off-the-shelf technologies are helping manufacturing SMEs to transform into highly efficient, digitally enabled businesses.
Georgina (George) Rose graduated with an MEng in Manufacturing Engineering in 2010.
In 2003 Richard Joseph set up Joseph Joseph, the innovative kitchenware company, with his twin brother Anthony. It now has a turnover of ?40 million, sells its products in 104 countries and has 80 employees.
Jonathan Duck took the Production Engineering Tripos (PET) 1981-1983, when it was only in its third year. It was renamed the Manufacturing Engineering Tripos (MET) soon after.
Two MET graduates, Susan Long and Abi Bush, are changing the face of humanitarian aid using innovative manufacturing engineering solutions to help people around the world that are affected by disaster or war through their work with non-profit organisation Field Ready.
Two key aspects of developing industry readiness are preparing graduates to solve real, rather than academic problems, and giving them experience of a range of industrial working environments.
Tom Ridgman explores the history of engineering education and how we should be educating the engineers of the future to effectively harness the rapid technological changes driving the next production revolution.
To acquire and develop a skill, we first need to unpick and describe what it involves more closely. But describing a skill is more challenging that we might expect. Dr Judith Shawcross from the IfM explains some insights from her research into this.
Graduate student Ben Proyer has been part of an IfM research team testing the effectiveness of wearable technologies for industrial skills development. He shares his perspective on the project.
Student industry projects in host companies are a central component of the IfM's education programmes. Dr Judith Shawcross explains how and why these projects provide such strong skills development.
Global supply chains
The Centre for International Manufacturing (CIM) is leading the research programme in REMEDIES, a £23m sector-wide initiative to understand how pharmaceutical supply chains in the UK are set to change.
In this age of rapid and escalating change, what can businesses do to flourish? Take a look at their supply chains, say researchers in the Centre for International Manufacturing, part of the IfM, based on their research in the UK and India.
The globalization of manufacturing has radically transformed how supply chains are built. As a result, tomorrow's supply networks will need to be more strategic, resilient, sustainable, and customer-focused.
Revolutionising pharmaceutical supply chains - from how a pill is made to the moment it is swallowed by the patient.
Dr Mukesh Kumar leads research in supply chain resilience at the IfM. He describes how his work is helping to tackle one of this century’s most important challenges: food safety.
Professor Geoff Parker, a keynote speaker at the CIM Symposium 2019 and a leading thinker on digital platforms, shares his perspectives on how new digital models are fundamentally changing the economy and the operating environment, and how firms need to adapt to survive and prosper.
Dr Jag Srai explains how ReMediES, a 23-million funded, 4-year project has forged a new model for cross-sector collaboration in UK medicines manufacturing. As the project concludes, he describes some of the innovations it has delivered.
E-commerce has completely changed the way we shop. But how sustainable is it? We interviewed Dr Jag Srai to find out more about the impact of online food shopping.
Dr Jag Srai and Dr Paul Christodoulou provide insights into the Digital Supply Chains Consortium's work, including developing decision criteria for incremental or radical transformations.
Supply chain transparency and traceability is becoming essential in the food sector, but how can companies create value from this necessity? Dr Mukesh Kumar and Rob Glew share a case study on a transformative initiative by AMT Fresh.
When crisis hits and critical products are in short supply, the risk of recalls rises as corners are cut in production. But when these products are needed to save lives, recall isn’t the best option.
Artificial intelligence offers huge potential for supply chains, but there are a lack of practical examples to demonstrate how data-driven approaches can be implemented effectively. Alexandra Brintrup explains how her research addresses this gap, and reveals valuable lessons for organisations.
Supply chain collaboration at local and international levels will be crucial in the months ahead, but ultimately COVID-19 will result in a rethinking of our reliance on global supply chains, in favour of more resilient and more local production.
With the advent of new technologies, a changing geopolitical context and ever more pressing concerns about sustainability, are we seeing the emergence of a new form of globalisation? Dr Jagjit Singh Srai examines the current state of globalisation in this article for The Manufacturer.
Jag Srai explores the biggest global supply chain challenges as we look toward vaccinating the world — and riding out the peaks and troughs of supply and demand as economies reopen.
As the annual Cambridge International Manufacturing Symposium marks its twentieth year Dr Tomas Harrington, Dr Jag Srai and Paul Christodoulou from the IfM's Centre for International Manufacturing (CIM) reflect on the new supply chain thinking that is emerging from companies such as Cisco, Coca-Cola, Jaguar Land Rover, Johnson Matthey, Cambridge University Press and Schneider Electric.
IfM researchers have demonstrated – for the first time – the digital inkjet printing and self-organisation of microdroplets on fluid surfaces to create structures of functional materials.
Innovation and IP management
Frank Tietze knows more than most about IP and hopes to help Cambridge and the UK do a lot better in the global IP charts.
As manufacturers transition into digitally driven business models, there are significant implications for intellectual property (IP). Dr Frank Tietze considers five key challenges, and some strategies to address them.
In 2021, IfM Education and Consulting Services will be collaborating with Lean Scaleup to support corporate innovation in a new peer group. In this article, peer group leads Rob Munro and Frank Mattes discuss some of the approaches they teach and how companies can use ecosystem thinking to successfully start and scale up new corporate ventures.
Intellectual property (IP) is a major asset for most companies, from entrepreneurial ventures through to multinationals. Dr Frank Tietze unpicks IP strategy development for start-ups and growing companies.
Dr Mukesh Kumar from the Centre for International Manufacturing suggests that multinational manufacturers are taking unnecessary risks with their industrial investments and he offers a solution.
Technology, regulation and a culture of safety all have a role to play as part of a joined-up approach, says Lili Jia.
Manufacturing a better world
Dr Maria Holgado from the IfM?s Centre for Industrial Sustainability (CIS) has been researching maintenance and particularly how it can make a vital contribution to a company?s long-term sustainability.
Earthquakes, tsunamis, floods and droughts: when a natural disaster strikes, relief organisations react by providing medical treatment, food, water and shelter. However, in these difficult and chaotic circumstances supply networks often prove to be insufficiently resilient.
IfM research is helping to contribute to global industrial sustainability - economic, environmental and societal - by addressing global "Grand Challenges".
The IfM?s NanoManufacturing group is developing nanotechnologies to supply clean water for developing nations and build better batteries for renewable energy.
Engineers and scientists from Fluids in Advanced Manufacturing and Cambridge Analytical Biotechnology groups have joined forces to develop an on-the-spot low-cost tool for the rapid diagnosis of infectious diseases.
Dr Mukesh Kumar leads research in supply chain resilience at the IfM. He describes how his work is helping to tackle one of this century's most important challenges: food safety.
IfM's Centre for Industrial Sustainability is focused on increasing our understanding of how to transform industrial behaviour to develop more sustainable environments, economies and societies.
The availability of 3D printers, laser cutters and other digital fabrication tools has led to the rise of the Maker Movement, a growing community with a DIY approach to design and production. As the COVID-19 crisis hit the UK, these ‘makers’ sprang into action. Their response has revealed the potential for innovation among the general public — but also the limitations of an informal network and a lack of standardisation.
Tim Minshall, head of the IfM, looks at the many challenges of matching offers of support from the manufacturing community with the dynamic and uncertain needs of the healthcare system.
As COVID-19 battered Britain’s economy and threatened to overwhelm the NHS, many small- and medium-sized manufacturing firms regrouped, repurposed and provided the vital materials the country needed. How did they do it, and when a new crisis arises, could they do it again?
2015 is an important year for the IfM. This October sees the 50th annual intake of students on its MPhil in Industrial Systems, Manufacture and Management.
In a sector characterised by the need to reduce time to market and find new ideas to generate new products, firms are constantly searching for ideas and innovations that will give them a competitive edge. Open innovation (OI) can facilitate this process.
The companies most likely to thrive in the complexity, speed and uncertainty of today’s global business environment are those who are able to innovate effectively. Dominic Oughton explains why Open Innovation is a compelling strategy for businesses in the FMCG sector and beyond…
IfM has been a key partner in Science2Society, a 3-year pan-European project which has focused on boosting innovation through collaborations between universities and industry.
How can major industry challenges be better addressed with astute approaches to innovation and design? Find out about a recent Forum challenge to rethink food packaging for improved sustainability.
Dr Rob Phaal gives seven ways organisations can improve their approach to roadmapping, providing an excellent foundation for planning strategic technology and innovation activities.
Strategic roadmapping provides the ideal framework for gaining clarity when future plans are uncertain.
Professor Andy Neely, Director of the Cambridge Service Alliance and the Royal Academy of Engineering Professor of Complex Services at the University of Cambridge, reflects on some of the key trends in servitization and the strategic choices facing today's manufacturers.
New research led by Prefessor Andy Neely, Director of the Cambridge Service Alliance (CSA) argues that a shift to services is vital for UK industry.
At the Cambridge Service Alliance we are exploring new service-based business models and, in particular, what the business to business (B2B) world needs to learn from consumer-focused companies.
The term innovate or die is now a mantra for business. But sometimes innovating without fully understanding your business ecosystem, or before your ecosystem is ready, can be a massive blunder. Dr Florian Urmetzer from the Cambridge Service Alliance explains why.
Co-creation is a core capability for unleashing the immense resourcefulness of outsiders. Yet ten common co-creation myths prevent companies from seeing the potential to innovate better.
Dr Florian Urmetzer explains how Transport for London has used ecosystem mapping to identify relationships and value exchanges for better results in planning a large infrastructure project.
Digital technologies are transforming the ways in which companies can interact with their customers. Dr Mohamed Zaki shares insights on connecting the digital, physical and social spaces of customer experience.
How can new technologies be tested to demonstrate effectiveness? Dr Veronica Martinez explains how a pilot project at Caterpillar demonstrated the value of a solution based on blockchain to solve business problems.
Research carried out by the Cambridge Service Alliance has shown that widely used methods for measuring customer satisfaction do not really tell you what your customers are thinking. Dr Mohamed Zaki and Professor Janet McColl-Kennedy, have devised a better way of understanding the customer experience.
As the importance of digital twins grows, most companies still have work to do to fully capitalise on their use.
Strategic asset management
Dr Ajith Parlikad, Head of the IfM's Asset Management Group, explains how effective asset management can deliver significant value both for manufacturers and for infrastructure owners and operators.
The key to long-term management of infrastructure lies in futureproofing, say Duncan McFarlane and Tariq Masood.
What would it take to enable a piece of infrastructure to take care of itself, asks Duncan McFarlane of the Cambridge Centre for Smart Infrastructure?
Ajith Parlikad, head of the Asset Management research group at the IfM, tells Jason Naselli about his new research project piloting 5G applications at the port of Felixstowe, and how the potential benefits can boost the UK economy.
Dr Dai Morgan from the IfM's Centre for Industrial Sustainability (CIS) reflects on the UK government's recent Foresight report on the future of manufacturing.
Dr Doroteya Vladimirova from the IfM's Centre for Industrial Sustainability contends that manufacturers need to start doing business differently if they are to create value for themselves and for society as a whole.
Professor Steve Evans is working with manufacturers to make manufacturing more sustainable. He explains that the environment, society and manufacturers can all benefit from increasing non-labour resource efficiency, re-thinking business models and transforming industrial systems.
Dr Curie Park explains how recent projects in Thailand have nurtured local entrenpreneurship through the creation of innovative products made with industrial waste and ocean plastic waste.
Professor Steve Evans shares his insights into how resource efficiency can be good news for your profit margins as well as the environment.
Journalist Lewis Gordon worked with IfM's Dr Claire Barlow and colleague Dr John Durrell to unpick the carbon footprint and impact on workers of this soon-to-be-obsolete console, with eye-watering findings.
Manufacturers are already working towards strategies which can both improve their sustainability practices and deliver on business objectives. Among these leaders, there is innovative thinking about the role for digital technologies can play. But what might this look like? Professor Steve Evans shares his insights.
In the wake of the economic jolt of the coronavirus, Nazia Habib explains how policy simulation labs can help developing economies chart a path to recovery.
Dr Nazia Mintz Habib answers questions about the increasingly precarious global food supply chain in an interview with RICS.
Seven years ago, Professor Steve Evans helped to write a major report for Whitehall on the future of British manufacturing and sustainability. In the wake of COVID-19, he looks back on the predictions and what the future looks like today for policy makers and executives.
Technology and innovation policy
QUESTION: How do we get better at taking the research knowledge from our science and engineering base and turning it into technologies, industries and economic wealth?
Dr Carlos López-Gómez and Dr David Leal-Ayala from the IfM’s Policy Links Unit discuss international evidence on the opportunities and barriers to capturing value from digital technologies in manufacturing.
As manufacturing becomes more complex, distributed and interdependent, policy makers around the world are looking for new ways to ensure national competitiveness for the so-called ‘next production revolution’.
Amid the COVID-19 emergency, policy makers are calling for manufacturing firms to temporarily repurpose their production to make critical supplies such as masks, ventilators and test kits. Building on a recent study from the Policy Links Unit, this article reviews some of the challenges involved in repurposing and potential ways to mitigate them.
The COVID-19 pandemic is causing massive disruptions to flows of foreign direct investment. Jostein Hauge and Adnan Seric explain why developing countries are likely to be hit the hardest.
Carlos López-Gómez addresses the myths surrounding the weakness of UK supply chains in the coronavirus crisis, and explains what must be done for UK supply chains to emerge stronger.
How manufacturing can emerge stronger: Policies to support industrial recovery and growth after COVID-19
This briefing note examines key policy instruments aimed at supporting the recovery and future growth of manufacturing industries in the wake of COVID-19.
As the UK prepares to launch a new high-risk, high-reward research agency, Eoin O'Sullivan discusses what it can learn from the ARPA model in the US and globally, and why technology and innovation management is the key to success.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought renewed attention to the importance of manufacturing. In order to ‘emerge stronger’ from the crisis, the UK must now act more strategically and harness industrial innovation to serve ambitious agendas for the economy and the environment.
IfM briefings and case studies provide a two-page summary of management, technology and policy issues.
Innovation is key to growth but how do you manage it efficiently and how do you go about deciding what new product or process to invest in?
Dr Thomas Bohné shares insights from current research into the potential for using cyber-human technology for industrial skills training.
Rob Munro, Industrial Associate for IfM Education and Consultancy Services, shares some insights into AIR4, a government-funded initiative to bring a more structured approach to making innovation happen in the rail sector.
How can organisations take a more strategic approach to managing innovation, and why could this be beneficial? John Saiz and Dr Clemens Chaskel share their insights.
Worker assistance systems are becoming increasingly intelligent, interactive and supportive. But do they have a future on the shop floor? Mirco Möncks, Elisa Roth and Dr Thomas Bohné from the IfM's Cyber-Human Lab share insights from a recent study on stakeholders’ perspectives on assistive technology in manufacturing.
With new technologies appearing more rapidly than ever before, Dr Letizia Mortara discusses how technology intelligence could help pick the ones that will deliver competitive advantage and spot the threats.