Fresh ideas in manufacturing is what keeps this industry vibrant and moving towards the future – and at ‘Innovation Alley’ at the Smart Factory Expo in Liverpool, there’s no shortage of new and exciting businesses trying to stand out from the crowd.
It’s a densely-packed networking space in the main hall of the Exhibition Centre in Liverpool during SFE, the largest digital manufacturing show in Europe running throughout Digital Manufacturing Week.
Entrepreneurs pitch their innovations direct to Smart Factory Expo attendees from ‘micro booths’ in a concentrated dose of ideas, energy and opportunity.
“It is also a great platform for Innovate UK to highlight the support we can provide to companies who may not have heard of us or realised the opportunities available”
This Innovate UK-sponsored event serves as the backbone for SFE, quite literally running through the centre of eight key Visitor Zones concerned with Industrial Automation, Digital Transformation, Supply Chain & Logistics, Industrial Data and Smart Factory.
Here, tech start-ups are given a free platform to pitch their ideas and build partnerships with digitally-minded manufacturers.
“It provides a showcase for some of the most innovative manufacturing entrepreneurs and SMEs, several of whom we have helped, who are seeing the commercial potential in new technologies and turning them into new products and services,” said manufacturing and materials director at Innovate UK, Simon Edmonds, who praised The Manufacturer for taking the partnership on.
“Innovation Alley highlights the strength of UK innovation in manufacturing. It is also a great platform for Innovate UK to highlight the support we can provide to companies and reach out to new businesses who may not have heard of us or realised the opportunities available,” he added.
Innovation Alley at Smart Factory Expo 2017 – image courtesy of The Manufacturer
One such enterprise benefitting from the exposure afforded by Innovation Alley is Make Thread, a Liverpool-based “fashion movement” who provide an online social marketplace for designers hoping to break into the industry without the requirement of upfront money and manufacturing capabilities.
Designers are encouraged to create an online presence via social media content and brand-forward thinking, then campaign for greater exposure using Make Thread’s fashion community who in turn manufacture products based on the response.
. The all-female co-director duo said this formula “drastically cuts down on production wastage”.
RealSpace Ltd, another addition to the Innovation Alley exhibition, are a relatively small team of pragmatic immersive technologists who founded the start-up in 2016 by venturing into the world of SingleReality™ technologies.
Their compact, light-weight devise allows for an immersive experience without the requirement of head movement, controllers or complex SingleReality™ and it can be applied to almost any household media devise, from a television and game, to a laptop and mobile phone, delivering “deeper, sharper and crisper imaging”.
The start-up said they were pleased to be able to represent their technology at the Smart Factory Expo in an industry that is rife with competition and they hoped that the experience would secure the extra funding they require to develop their technology further.
Courtesy of RealSpace Ltd
iLockerz Ltd put on a good show with their range of secure equipment storage, device charging and asset management technologies.
The Smart locker systems digitally track the status, location and condition of any and all tools across a multitude of industries via sophisticated RFID tagging and computer software, which iLockerz will install, service and train personnel in the use of.
Business development manager, Ryan Slaney, said their customer base ranges from construction workers through to the defence sector and in addition to regular updates on the status of a company’s inventory improving productivity and overall efficiency, every aspect of the technology is designed and manufactured here in the UK.
DAJO Solutions marketed themselves well at Innovation Alley this year and certainly gave other industry leaders in automation technology a run for their money.
Sales manager, Mark Whitehead, told The Manufacturer that DAJO was involved in the development and exploitation of machine intelligence for industry purposes and that the company had recently won Eaton’s Lean Solution Partner of the year award for their endeavours.
DAJO routinely implements new hardware or smart device technologies for its customers, “delivering practical automation solutions from theoretical possibilities”.
Industries they work with include defence, construction, automotive, off highway, manufacturing, food production and storage – with remits covering cost reduction, quality management, safety enhancement, efficiency increase and fail-safe systems.
Whitehead said with the imminence of Industry 4.0 it was an exciting time to be in the business of automation and that he was happy to have a chance for representing DAJO at Innovation Alley this year.