Low-Cost Digital Solutions for Large-Scale Manufacturers - DIAL Newsletter Spring 2019
By Liz Salter, Industrial Assocaite, IfM ECS
On 24th April, representatives from Amazon, Babcock, Boeing, Domino Printing, Magna, Siemens, Schlumberger and Unilever took part in a workshop at IfM to explore the ways in which “low-cost and off-the-shelf” digital manufacturing solutions might be useful in their businesses.
A number of our large company contacts have expressed strong interest in DIAL’s Digital Manufacturing on a Shoestring project, which aims to support SMEs in their implementation of digital manufacturing. This workshop set out to explore whether similar approaches could be useful for these large companies, and to explore potential working models and activities for a consortium to develop relevant applications.
Duncan McFarlane gave an introduction to Low Cost Digital Developments, including an overview of the Shoestring project. Alan Thorne (with support from MET 2 student Rob Glew) presented Low Cost Technologies & Applications, reviewing the capabilities and the limitations of key “Commercial Off The Shelf” technologies in comparison with more standard industrial solutions, and including examples of recent projects in the robot lab.
Liz Salter from ECS then facilitated discussions on the large company perspectives, asking what low cost means to these businesses and where it might, or might not, be used. Potential solution areas were explored, seeking to identify the low cost digital solutions and off-the-shelf technologies of most interest.
An initial list of priority topics is now being developed whilst we consider next steps and possible demonstrator solutions for a consortium of companies. The working name is the “Digital Bootstrap Consortium”. The companies attending found the workshop useful, enjoying the opportunity to compare digital manufacturing experiences and approaches with a non-competitive peer group.
The workshop was also attended by members of DIAL’s Digital Manufacturing on Shoestring team who were interested to observe both similarities and differences in the issues raised by SMEs.