What are the UK’s biggest digital manufacturing challenges?

Posted on 15 Mar 2017 by Jonny Williamson

Digital Catapult and Innovate UK have announced an ‘Industry 4.0, Hack & Pitch’, an initiative asking SMEs to identify innovative solutions that will positively disrupt UK manufacturing and help combat some of the industry’s biggest challenges.

The Industry 4.0 Hack & Pitch aims to enhance collaboration between industry and innovative SMEs, fostering new ideas to improve productivity and the creation of new solutions regarding the UK’s biggest digital manufacturing challenges.

Manufacturing currently contributes more than £6.7tn to the global economy, but, as Chancellor Philip Hammond reiterated in his Spring Budget speech last week, it’s apparent that low levels of labour productivity in the UK have been and continue to be a key challenge.

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The process of design, the production procedure and the life cycle of products have been identified by Digital Catapult as the main areas that could benefit from digital transformation and help towards combatting productivity issues.

Working with corporate sponsors to address specific digital manufacturing challenges in the industry, SMEs will be working with experts in the field to address specific areas of focus, including: Digital Twins, and remote condition monitoring.

The Digital Engineering and Test Centre will look to challenge participating SMEs to focus on what can be done to better exploit the potential of Digital Twins. Tata Steel will encourage SMEs to come up with solutions to better utilise test results to inform the manufacturing process for high-value steel products; while Siemens will challenge participants to explore how manufacturers can monitor the condition of hard-to-reach and hard-to-sense parts of their machines, to improve productivity.

Digital Catapult is interested to hear from SMEs operating in this space. As well as access to industry leaders, Industry 4.0 Hack & Pitch will provide SMEs with access to technologists and challenge specialists from within the international manufacturing industry.

Meanwhile, manufacturers will have the ability to work with, and have a better understanding of, the potential in the application of new and existing digital manufacturing technologies. The competition is a platform for both parties to not only work with the best in their field, but also have a strong presence with those affiliated with Industry 4.0.

Selected participants that make the final will have the opportunity to raise their profile at a prominent industry event by taking to the stage at the Industry 4.0 Summit in Manchester.

The open call for SMEs and manufacturers to sign up for the Industry 4.0 Hack & Pitch is now live. The deadline for applications closes on Monday 20 March at 12 noon.