• Welcome to Digital Manufacturing on a Shoestring

    Making digital manufacturing work for SMEs
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    How can SME manufacturers benefit from digitalisation without excessive cost and risk? Researchers at the University of Cambridge and University of Nottingham are collaborating with SME manufacturers across the UK to explore and develop low-cost digital manufacturing solutions to meet small-scale manufacturing needs. This is a 3-year, EPSRC-funded project, actively seeking input and views from SMEs – we welcome your comments, feedback and suggestions - please reply to me here on the Make UK Community.
    Find out more about the project at www.digitalshoestring.net
    Follow us on Twitter @dmshoestring
    4
  • Making digital manufacturing work for SMEs
    Name:  Header-image-2-1500x500.jpg
Views: 89
Size:  374.4 KB
    How can SME manufacturers benefit from digitalisation without excessive cost and risk? Researchers at the University of Cambridge and University of Nottingham are collaborating with SME manufacturers across the UK to explore and develop low-cost digital manufacturing solutions to meet small-scale manufacturing needs. This is a 3-year, EPSRC-funded project, actively seeking input and views from SMEs – we welcome your comments, feedback and suggestions - please reply to me here on the Make UK Community.
    Find out more about the project at www.digitalshoestring.net
    Follow us on Twitter @dmshoestring
  • Hello,

    Great initiative ! I can give our perspective that may help.

    I guess in part it depends on what you are aiming for with Digital Manufacturing and how big your shoestring is.

    There are plenty of definitions of what a Production Intelligence Journey should look like, at Trelleborg we have defined 5 major steps, Connected, Visible, Predictive, Adaptive and Intelligent. We have different plants at different places on this journey ( most at the beginning ), however, the stated goal is just to get all plants connected and visible over the next 18-24 months ( complete step 2 ).

    Although the Plant I am based at is reasonably well positioned ( we have had SCADA connected systems for 10 years ) we are looking at a low cost way to get other plants to the connected and visible level ( displaying OEE from automatically collected machine signals for example ).

    To that end we are trialling IOT Devices from Advantech ( there are others available ) for +/- £150 you can buy a device with 12 inputs - in its simplest form this will give us a "Machine in Production" and "Cycle Completed" signal from 6 machines - £25 per machine.

    If you are on a shoestring you might not have an IT Expert ( very capable post Grad students are available for around £27k per year in Leicester - or use students still studying as we have done from Nottingham University ) or an account with Microsoft / Google / Amazon clouds - however, these Advantech devices can connect directly to Azure ( we use Microsoft ) and from there you can use something like Power BI to display the results.

    We are currently moving from our SCADA system to Kepware KepserverEX - which is not too expensive ( free equivalent available from Advantech !) ... that will act as the interface to all our connected devices and PLC's and then to which ever software we choose to use.

    Once you've connected your devices to your machines, there are lots of software vendors willing to take those signals ( if you don't have the time / resource to do it yourself ) and turn them into valuable information. Some companies offer free proof of concepts ( Visual Factories for example ) and most will do a SaaS ( Software as a Service ) contract - so no up front costs. This is ideal as the benefits of simply visualising and increasing OEE should far out weight any costs for software.

    I would suggest whatever you do, keep control / access to your data, as you've no doubt heard many times, data is the new oil / gold and it is yours, keep hold of it ! Don't set your sights too high, maybe a good start is to simply say that you will connect to machines and display what you can as we have done (there is a lot going on in this space - maybe start slow and see what happens and for sure whatever happens needs connections to machines so starting there is always a good place ). After that for £150 for a single device, a free proof of concept from a software vendor and you could be actively displaying OEE from 6 machines within 2 weeks ( full OEE needs some operator input as well ) for a Shoestring. In one of our factories we had a proof of concept up and running in 10 days from almost scratch.

    Just to say that although Trelleborg is a large company, it operates in a very decentralised manner ( which has its good and bad points ) so we are effectively made up of many SME's.
    1
  • Hello,

    Great initiative ! I can give our perspective that may help.

    I guess in part it depends on what you are aiming for with Digital Manufacturing and how big your shoestring is.

    There are plenty of definitions of what a Production Intelligence Journey should look like, at Trelleborg we have defined 5 major steps, Connected, Visible, Predictive, Adaptive and Intelligent. We have different plants at different places on this journey ( most at the beginning ), however, the stated goal is just to get all plants connected and visible over the next 18-24 months ( complete step 2 ).

    Although the Plant I am based at is reasonably well positioned ( we have had SCADA connected systems for 10 years ) we are looking at a low cost way to get other plants to the connected and visible level ( displaying OEE from automatically collected machine signals for example ).

    To that end we are trialling IOT Devices from Advantech ( there are others available ) for +/- £150 you can buy a device with 12 inputs - in its simplest form this will give us a "Machine in Production" and "Cycle Completed" signal from 6 machines - £25 per machine.

    If you are on a shoestring you might not have an IT Expert ( very capable post Grad students are available for around £27k per year in Leicester - or use students still studying as we have done from Nottingham University ) or an account with Microsoft / Google / Amazon clouds - however, these Advantech devices can connect directly to Azure ( we use Microsoft ) and from there you can use something like Power BI to display the results.

    We are currently moving from our SCADA system to Kepware KepserverEX - which is not too expensive ( free equivalent available from Advantech !) ... that will act as the interface to all our connected devices and PLC's and then to which ever software we choose to use.

    Once you've connected your devices to your machines, there are lots of software vendors willing to take those signals ( if you don't have the time / resource to do it yourself ) and turn them into valuable information. Some companies offer free proof of concepts ( Visual Factories for example ) and most will do a SaaS ( Software as a Service ) contract - so no up front costs. This is ideal as the benefits of simply visualising and increasing OEE should far out weight any costs for software.

    I would suggest whatever you do, keep control / access to your data, as you've no doubt heard many times, data is the new oil / gold and it is yours, keep hold of it ! Don't set your sights too high, maybe a good start is to simply say that you will connect to machines and display what you can as we have done (there is a lot going on in this space - maybe start slow and see what happens and for sure whatever happens needs connections to machines so starting there is always a good place ). After that for £150 for a single device, a free proof of concept from a software vendor and you could be actively displaying OEE from 6 machines within 2 weeks ( full OEE needs some operator input as well ) for a Shoestring. In one of our factories we had a proof of concept up and running in 10 days from almost scratch.

    Just to say that although Trelleborg is a large company, it operates in a very decentralised manner ( which has its good and bad points ) so we are effectively made up of many SME's.
  • Great to see that there is further progression on the whole issue of 4IR for SMEs - this is a major gap of knowledge and accessibility that needs to be developed, so excellent to understand their are further specific plans. For our part and as the national Advantage Partner of Make UK, Jonathan Lee has teamed with Autodesk to support their programme Future of British Manufacturing Initiative. This has a number of facets and includes an online assessment to aid SMEs in particular understand where they are on the digital and wider 4IR journey. Please connect to the assessment via the link in the following: https://www.jonlee.co.uk/blog/2018/1...itiative-fobmi to take the assessment and understand more of how we can all take part.
    2
  • Great to see that there is further progression on the whole issue of 4IR for SMEs - this is a major gap of knowledge and accessibility that needs to be developed, so excellent to understand their are further specific plans. For our part and as the national Advantage Partner of Make UK, Jonathan Lee has teamed with Autodesk to support their programme Future of British Manufacturing Initiative. This has a number of facets and includes an online assessment to aid SMEs in particular understand where they are on the digital and wider 4IR journey. Please connect to the assessment via the link in the following: https://www.jonlee.co.uk/blog/2018/1...itiative-fobmi to take the assessment and understand more of how we can all take part.
  • It is great to see other initiatives and support in this area - which is fundamental in ensuring the UK manufacturing remains competitive. At Made Smarter we have found a number of barriers are preventing digitalisation, cost is just one of them.

    SMEs often report issues around not having the correct skills or workforce, not having the time to dedicate to the project and not understanding which specific technology is for them.

    We provide North West SMEs with up to 50% grant funding, advice, linewalks and expertise to try and overcome these barriers. We also help place students in their business to support with the project and our Leadership Development course helps leaders ensure their business succeeds throughout this change. This holistic approach and wide range of support can be more helpful to businesses than just the funding element.

    At Made Smarter we are always looking for ways to encourage businesses to adopt digital technology - as half the problem is confusing and intimidating press around Industry 4.0 - the knowledge and skills gap must be addressed.
    3
  • It is great to see other initiatives and support in this area - which is fundamental in ensuring the UK manufacturing remains competitive. At Made Smarter we have found a number of barriers are preventing digitalisation, cost is just one of them.

    SMEs often report issues around not having the correct skills or workforce, not having the time to dedicate to the project and not understanding which specific technology is for them.

    We provide North West SMEs with up to 50% grant funding, advice, linewalks and expertise to try and overcome these barriers. We also help place students in their business to support with the project and our Leadership Development course helps leaders ensure their business succeeds throughout this change. This holistic approach and wide range of support can be more helpful to businesses than just the funding element.

    At Made Smarter we are always looking for ways to encourage businesses to adopt digital technology - as half the problem is confusing and intimidating press around Industry 4.0 - the knowledge and skills gap must be addressed.
  • Hi @Paul Race @David Woakes and @Robyn Brown

    Many thanks for your contributions to this thread - by working in collaboration through the Community we hope that we can help SMEs achieve greater productivity by leveraging the power of new technologies. All of the advice you have shared is fantastic and really does help others make the right choices.

    Pleas keep on sharing your thoughts and experiences with the Community.

    Best regards,

    Daniel.
    Head of Community
    Need help? Ask me your questions about the Community here
    1
  • Hi @Paul Race @David Woakes and @Robyn Brown

    Many thanks for your contributions to this thread - by working in collaboration through the Community we hope that we can help SMEs achieve greater productivity by leveraging the power of new technologies. All of the advice you have shared is fantastic and really does help others make the right choices.

    Pleas keep on sharing your thoughts and experiences with the Community.

    Best regards,

    Daniel.
    Head of Community
    Need help? Ask me your questions about the Community here
  • Hi Paul

    I am one of the researchers working on the Digital Manufacturing on a Shoestring project. Thanks for sharing your experience. One of the difficulties facing digital manufacturing is that the return on investment is not always that easy to identify, so having companies who have embarked on different digital manufacturing projects share their experience will go a long way towards encouraging other companies that are more uncertain.

    As part of the project, we will be focussing on a range of differently priced solutions, ranging from systems that a manufacturer could develop in-house to low-cost systems from solution providers. I should also mention that we are not only focussing on digital improvements in the shop floor environment but also areas within the back office and logistics environments.
    2
  • Hi Paul

    I am one of the researchers working on the Digital Manufacturing on a Shoestring project. Thanks for sharing your experience. One of the difficulties facing digital manufacturing is that the return on investment is not always that easy to identify, so having companies who have embarked on different digital manufacturing projects share their experience will go a long way towards encouraging other companies that are more uncertain.

    As part of the project, we will be focussing on a range of differently priced solutions, ranging from systems that a manufacturer could develop in-house to low-cost systems from solution providers. I should also mention that we are not only focussing on digital improvements in the shop floor environment but also areas within the back office and logistics environments.