Industry 4.0 tech helps Cheshire manufacturer accelerate growth

The adoption of Industry 4.0 technology has played a significant role in the growth of Widnes-based manufacturer of thermal engineering products, Genlab.

Genlab specialise in the design and manufacture of thermal engineering products such as industrial ovens, incubators and drying cabinets.
Genlab specialises in the design and manufacture of thermal engineering products such as industrial ovens, incubators and drying cabinets.

“Whether it be reduced operational costs, increased efficiency, or validated decision-making – the advantages for manufacturers are staggering. Industry 4.0 will continue to drive the industry, and those that don’t adjust have a high chance of falling behind.”

So, warns Phil Crompton, Genlab’s finance director.

Founded in 1963, Genlab specialises in the design and manufacture of thermal engineering products such as industrial ovens, incubators and drying cabinets. Over the years, Genlab has supplied products to almost every country in the world, fast becoming one of the leading businesses in its field.

Since opening, Genlab has dedicated itself to staying one step ahead of its competition by keeping up with the latest innovations and embracing new technologies.

As digitalisation increasingly transforms the manufacturing world, Genlab saw an opportunity to embrace it, but lacked the knowledge on how to implement it into its business model to lead to greater efficiency and new innovation.

Earlier this year, Genlab approached LCR 4.0, a part-funded European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) business support programme that helps manufacturers explore the challenges and opportunities of Industry 4.0 technologies.

The project enabled Genlab to work with the Virtual Engineering Centre (VEC) to create a virtual reality simulation of its factory floor which resulted in a 20% uplift in the company’s productivity.

Since then, Genlab has gone on to design a first-of-its-kind touch-screen controller that enables users to view and modify the settings of industrial appliances.

Industry 4.0 Manufaturing Innovation - The team at LCR 4.0, which is a part of the Liverpool City Region Local Growth Hub – image courtesy of LCR 4.0.Interested in learning how Industry.40 technologies can accelerate your business growth?

LCR 4.0 is exhibiting at Smart Factory Expo – Europe’s largest digital manufacturing showcase, which takes place on 14-15 November. 

Their team of experts will be on-hand and you can find them on Stand A3.

Powered by Internet of Things (IoT) technology, the controller works on a wide range of the company’s products and allows users to configure settings – such as the temperature and timer of an appliance – and view a digital edition of the appliance’s user-manual to offer better convenience.

The controller alerts users when the appliance is due to be serviced, and when its warranty is about to expire. Through LCR 4.0, Genlab has also built a QR code functionality into the controller, meaning users can view the digital appliance manual instantly on their smartphone.

Genlab’s Phil Crompton commented: “Most industrial appliances still come with paper manuals which a lot of people tend to lose, so we wanted to create a practical, easy to use device that works with a range of applications. This will give the customer far greater accuracy, flexibility, along with much more functionality.

“The adoption of Industry 4.0 technology has played a significant role in the growth of Genlab. Many traditional manufacturers are reluctant to deploy new technology, but a big reason might be because they lack the specialist knowledge to explore what it can do for their business.”

Genlab has also made strides to minimise the environmental impact of its products by creating an energy efficient, sustainable solution to glassware drying.

The new units – which are traditionally used in labs and schools for drying beakers and test tubes – are fully insulated and equipped with a seven-day timer so they can automatically switch on and off to save electricity.

The new units have a significantly less lower energy consumption than traditional drying cabinets and have already been installed in the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge.