The Future of British Manufacturing Initiative: Roadshow – London

Posted on 28 Apr 2016 by Jonny Williamson

Launched by Autodesk and The Manufacturer – and supported by key partners, the Future of British Manufacturing Initiative takes a hands-on approach to enabling British design and manufacturing companies to respond to the challenges of trends the likes of Industry 4.0 and the Internet of Things.

Aimed at galvanising how the nation’s designers and manufacturers respond to Industry 4.0, and the many opportunities it offers, the Future of British Manufacturing Initiative aims to see British manufacturing once again become a driving force in this fourth industrial revolution.

It’s goal is to enable British manufacturers to design, make and sell great British products everywhere by embracing new, disruptive technologies to boost productivity, innovation and deliver repetitive advantage.

The first in this series of events, title the Future of Making Things (FoMT) took place today at the Digital Catapult Centre in London. Some of the key moments, directly from those that presented at the event, are listed below.

If you are interesting in gaining a firmer grasp of the trends that are shaping design and manufacturing, and how other companies are already responding to them, attend one of the next three regional FoMT events that are taking place around the country on the following dates:

  • May 25, The MTC – Coventry
  • June 15, AMRC, Rotherham
  • September 21, AFRC, Renfrew

More information about FOBMI can be found at:


The Future of Making Things – London

Asif Moghal, manufacturing industry manager, Autodesk.
Asif Moghal, manufacturing industry manager, Autodesk.

Asif Moghal – manufacturing industry manager, Autodesk:

“Unless you engage with us and tell us what’s wrong, nothing is going to change; the answers to the challenges you face aren’t as out of reach as many people think.”

“We want to enable British designers and manufacturers to become more productive, innovative, and attain competitive advantage.”

“The new tradition is one of disruption. The new trends are, unsurprisingly, centred around the emergence of cloud which has fundamentally changed the way we do things; the way we push and pull information from the cloud has also changed as we become a far more transient, mobile workforce, alongside an evolution in the way we communicate.”

“Future generations will not have a concept of what it means to be ‘offline’. We are increasingly seeing our personal values evolve, such as the importance consumers place on sustainability.”

“We want personalisation, products made solely for us – markets of one. Yet at the same time, we want our products to get better over time. Take Tesla’s cars for example, the performance of the product actually increases over its lifetime. The car sat on your driveway in 10 years time will be better than the one you originally bought.”

“In the UK alone, we spend an average of eight hours a day online. Around 57% of the information we get before investing in a product or physically picking up a brochure or speaking to a representative, comes from research online.”

“That’s why how we design a product is changing; product design is becoming far more collaborative as companies gradually relax their attitudes around intellectual property. We are seeing a companies iterate far more before reaching the final product design.”

“There are three different types of innovation – incremental, adjacent and transformative. The risk associated with those types of innovation goes from low for incremental, medium for adjacent and high for transformative; yet the potential profit gain is the same – low for incremental, medium for adjacent and high for transformative.”

“We are making products which are connected and smarter. Sensors are being embedded in almost every product you can think of, but connectivity isn’t enough on its own, you also need a smart user-interface alongside that.”

“If you want to have a business which is serving markets of one, collaborating with consumers and its supply chain, and manufacturing smart, connected products, then you have no choice but to engage with the future of making things, embrace advanced technologies and respond to the current market disruptions.”

“If your business model operates around producing fixed end products, the value of those products is only ever going to decrease. We want companies to add flexible manufacturing processes and technologies into their businesses, but at the areas where they would add the most value.”

“Let’s start working together immediately, not sometime in the future, because getting results isn’t as difficult as many people think.”

Case study: Vantage Power

Alex Schey – CEO and co-founder, Vantage Power:

“We are a five-year company that designs and manufactures and retrofits complete hybrid powertrains for buses already on the road, to reduce their fuel consumption and emissions at a fraction of the cost of purchasing new hybrid buses.”

“By designing the whole hybrid system – everything between the fuel tank and the wheels – optimal performance of every component is ensured, resulting in higher fuel economy, lower emissions, and greater reliability than other systems.”

“The thing about great ideas is that they are simple to understand and everyone gets it. That’s true for our hybrid powertrains. When we discuss our business we don’t have to cover complex physics and technical details, it’s very simple and we’ve been met with a really enthusiastic reception so far.”

“Any form of engineering, your first prototype is very different from your next iteration. For us, we learnt a great deal about fuel consumption, for example, alongside component choices and materials. New technologies, such as additive manufacturing for example allowed us to iterate so much faster than with traditional methods.”

“What really excites me is the way in which we will be able to engage and communicate with our customers and supply chain in the future through the cloud.”

“Tools like HoloLens have the power to make design and engineering far ‘cooler’ and ‘sexier’ than ever before. That could prove vital in the way we promote careers in industry and engage with the designers and engineers of the future.”

“The future of energy efficient public transport is only going to be made possible through the effective use of data. Using the latest cloud-based IT architecture, we are obtaining, analysing and presenting vehicle data in a way that has not been done before.”

“Our ‘VP Vision’ combines advanced energy management firmware with an online platform allowing real-time diagnostics and a suite of technologies not yet seen in the bus industry. It’s the Internet of Things for buses.”
Today, VP Vision is in the early stages of an exciting and ground breaking product roadmap; we’ve laid the foundations to deliver more new features in the months and years to come.”

Connect to the future – today

Demir Ali – Northern Europe technical sales, Autodesk:

“How we do allow the customers of businesses help to create bespoke products configured to their individual needs?”

“Most of the companies we talk to are still relying on email and traditional design tools, which don’t allow for the dynamic interaction or flexibility necessary to have customers engaged in that process, with the minimum amount of fuss.”

“Liverpool-based bespoke sportscar manufacturer, BAC doesn’t have the luxury of having 100 or so cars in its showroom to show customers what various colours and configurations will look like. Instead, it has a one-to-one digital powerwall, allowing customers to choose from a huge variety of possible combinations to create a truly customised car and see what it looks like via a virtual representation.”

“A lot of organisations want lightweight products, particularly automotive and aerospace manufacturers. So much manufacturing is done purely because that’s the accepted method, or it’s being constrained by traditional technologies, processes or aesthetics. Wouldn’t it be great if that wasn’t the case.”

“What would happen if we could replace a traditional solid metal component and replace it with a lattice-like structure, for example? But obviously before you put that into practice, you need to see and understand whether or not that design change would negatively impact the overall performance of that component. That’s where digital, real-time simulation and testing comes.”

“All of this is geared towards enabling designers to make better, up-front design decisions using accurate, real-time, quantified data.”

“We are working with organisations to help them optimise their production lines. How? By using process analysis to optimise their layout leveraging the power and advantages of 3D modelling.”

Future technologies and education

Ashley Hall PhD – Professor of design innovation, Royal College of Art:

“What’s happening in design? ‘Classic’ industrial design has been offshored and has less interest to the current and next generation of designers. However, new design processes are fueling future makers.”

“Digital technologies have lowered the barrier to design new making processes. Modern designers want to create and own their own making process.”

“Digital tools are helping to change people’s perceptions of design, engineering and manufacturing processes.”

“One of the big challenges with additive or digital manufacturing is around sources of energy.”