GAMBICA Update: Embracing the digital lifestyle

Posted on 2 Sep 2020 by The Manufacturer

In his column this month, Nikesh Mistry shares GAMBICA’s ideas and experiences in a bid to overcome the barriers to digitalisation present in manufacturing.

Throughout UK industry there’s one underlying theme that’s becoming increasingly important: digitalisation. The collection and analysis of data from industrial processes has potentially far-reaching implications for productivity.

Digitalisation offers the ability to connect not only business processes but also create networks further down the value and supply chains right through to consumer product level.

The process of digitalisation acts as a bridge which encourages a through-life approach to the way products and applications are utilised.

From design and manufacturing right through to the final recycling/disposal stage, digitalisation allows for a newer course through the product lifecycle.

Preventive maintenance allows accidents to be foreseen, but as information can be exchanged between all stages in the business cycle, the necessity for interference is being reduced.

Organisations are increasingly turning to DevOps within their development and database teams - image courtesy of Depositphotos.

Driving digitalisation forward

Previously, digitalising processes had the initiative of enhancing a level of health and safety wellbeing both at home and in the workplace.

But activists like Greta Thunberg and the Extinction Rebellion group, while arguably extreme in their methods, are instilling an awareness in society to make decisions on a larger scale and think more about the atmosphere, personal waste distribution and even personal diets and lifestyle choices.

There are various other societal drivers of digitalisation that are often overlooked. As developments in technology are made, we as consumers are becoming increasingly reliant on the variety of consumer goods available and, more so, the ability to customise them to our own requirements.

The United Nations’ list of sustainable development goals is a call to action for institutions to adopt, and insist they are essential to achieving economic growth.

Gender equality, clean energy and responsible consumption are among the goals that create a platform for digital technologies to be utilised. The technology already exists, it’s the adoption we aim to increase.

The enabling of digital processes makes repetitive, communication-based tasks run more smoothly.

It doesn’t diminish the ability of a human and most certainly doesn’t mean “robots will take our jobs”. The choices we make are still ours.

Take the Nike ID platform, for example; digitalisation means we can customise our own trainer from scratch, but the customisation is our own. New, digitally skilled jobs are being created that did not previously exist.

The adoption process

At GAMBICA, we are helping to align this digital methodology having established a special interest group which welcomes members from across all our sectors. Its underlying aim? To tackle existing barriers of adoption to digitalisation that exist within industry.

We’re hoping to utilise the extensive range of expertise already present within our membership base, working alongside prevailing initiatives like the Made Smarter programme in the North.

Our intention is to share ideas and experiences, and to try to help kick-start the journey for those who are unsure of how or where to begin by offering guidance and support.

We will be reaching out to other trade associations too who may have varying adoption techniques which could also be shared.

To find out more, please get in touch using the contact information below:

Nikesh Mistry, Sector Head, Industrial Automation, GAMBICA Nikesh Mistry, Sector Head, Industrial Automation, GAMBICA – the UK association for instrumentation, control, automation and laboratory technology.


InControl at Batten & Allen

To satisfy the needs of a new contract in the aerospace industry, Batten & Allen of Cirencester needed to produce a new automated electroplating line.

The company delivers high-quality, custom designed reel-to-reel electroplating services to the electro-technical industry.

Although it designs and manufactures its own production lines, it needed an advanced systems integrator to design and manufacture the control panel, PLC and SCADA application software to allow Batten & Allen to be able to efficiently call up plating recipes by customer product code.

The aim was for a minimal changeover time and being able to automate line speed and heights unique to each customer job.

InControl Systems Ltd of Chesterfield was selected for the project after being referred to Batten & Allen by PP Control & Automation, a contract manufacturer in the West Midlands.

InControl Systems operational at Batten & Allen, installed and commissioned during the pandemic

But with the production due to start in June, this meant that development, design and build of the system was all conducted during COVID-19 lockdown, and with install and commissioning while the two-metre social distancing guidelines are in play.

InControl Systems’ Technical Director, Jan Hemper, said: “This was a really interesting project, with multiple PID loops controlled by the PLC and speed control of the reel-to-reel feed, this was a combination of process control and automation.

“We decided that it was a ‘must’ to have remote access to the control system, especially during these times of restricted access. Our biggest challenge, however, was finding accommodation for our commission engineers!”

Batten & Allen’s Senior Plating Manager, John Bartle, concluded: “We have considerable experience of the plating process here, so it was great to find an integrator like InControl Systems to deliver a system that is part of our future Smart Factory aspirations.”

*’All images courtesy of Depositphotos