New deal to better commercialise digitalisation of manufacturing

Posted on 21 Sep 2017 by Jonny Williamson

Siemens and the University of Sheffield have joined forces to accelerate digitalisation, boost digital skills, and promote technology and knowledge exchange to meet the needs of an increasingly-digitalised industry.

Digitalisation of Manufacturing - As the factory’s digital twin absorbs more information, it develops a much clearer picture of what maximum efficiency looks like than any skilled operative could achieve, no matter how long their service.
The MindSphere Innovation Network (MINe) acts as a living lab to help equip graduates with the future skills they will need considering the digitalisation of manufacturing. – image courtesy of Siemens.

The agreement marks the first collaboration for a new UK-wide digitalisation of manufacturing network to link universities with the Internet of Things (IoT).

It comes as the widespread adoption of digitalisation, the technology behind Industry 4.0 or the Fourth Industrial Revolution, such as that being tested at the University of Sheffield’s Factory 2050, is seen as crucial to UK competitiveness and productivity.

The partnership is based on the MindSphere Innovation Network (MINe) developed by Siemens to connect a university’s estate and research assets into its innovative IoT platform, MindSphere.

It then makes this data available to improve teaching and research collaborations between academics and industry partners, to uncover new business models and create commercial opportunities through digitalisation.

It also acts as a living lab to help equip graduates with the future skills they will need considering the digitalisation of manufacturing.

The University of Sheffield and Siemens have also invested in a bespoke space for collaboration and learning between students, local businesses and other partners.

The ‘MindSphere Lounge’ is located in The Diamond building – the University’s largest ever investment in learning and teaching. Students, academics, industry partners and Siemens experts can use the area to access MindSphere to harness the value of the data produced from the University and the various projects connected to the cloud-based platform.

CEO of Siemens UK and leader of the government’s Industrial Digitalisation Review, Juergen Maier explained: “Using digital technologies to transform business operations is key for the UK to drive competitiveness, improve national productivity and take advantage of the commercial opportunities offered by an increasingly digitalised industry.”

The launch of the MindSphere Innovation Network, starting in Sheffield, will allow universities to translate their research into real world impact by harnessing the power of digitalisation.

The aim is to help develop the skills needed for the future, build the UK’s world class capabilities in data science across universities, enable the development of new business models and create opportunities to grow new start-up businesses locally.

Teams from Siemens will be based on campus to help projects and engage communities by enabling Sheffield and other universities to become hubs for collaborating with local businesses.