The AMRC Integrated Manufacturing Group (IMG), based at Factory 2050, is unveiling a new opportunity for SME’s to more easily conduct research into machining and assembly technologies in a safe and cost-effective environment.
Factory 2050 was built for IMG to conduct collaborative research with industrial and academic partners into reconfigurable robotic, digitally assisted assembly and part inspection technologies.
The facility is capable of rapidly switching production between different high-value components and one-off parts.
With the introduction of a reconfigurable factory demonstrator, SMEs will have access to a generic research and development cell, where they can work with IMG engineers on manufacturing projects designed to take the risk out of trialling new technologies and processes before putting them into production.
Chris Greaves, operations manager for IMG, explained: “The cell will be able to be reconfigured to the specific requirements of an SME with a shorter lead time. This will allow easier, quicker and more affordable engagement for SMEs.
“Our aim is to create more effective engagement and greater open access for SMEs; businesses who may not have the resources to join the AMRC as a member, but still want to take advantage of our state of the art capabilities and world-class research to improve their processes and outputs.”
As a member of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, the AMRC is open to work with any business, big or small. IMG want small businesses to think of the AMRC as a sandpit, where they can prove-out automation or robotics, or new manufacturing processes at low-cost and with low-risk.
Greaves added: “Projects don’t have to be long running or expensive to make big changes in short amounts of time. Even small projects requiring a short-lead time can be cost-effective and contribute to the improving productivity of a company.
“We recently helped a small manufacturer test a new robotic drilling system. This allowed them to trial the system, so they didn’t have to introduce an unknown technology straight into production on their factory floor, without knowing if it would work or be of benefit. That’s the kind of work we can also do, de-risking research and development for small businesses.”
IMG want to challenge the perception that robotics, automation and the introduction of digital manufacturing technologies aligned with the “4th industrial revolution” are just for big businesses with deep pockets.