Tier One partnership with technology giant
AFRC chairman Keith Ridgway and Siemens Digital Factory managing director Brian Holliday
AFRC and Siemens get connected to accelerate the rise of smart factories across Scotland
The University of Strathclyde’s Advanced Forming Research Centre (AFRC) has agreed a Tier One Partnership with global technology giant Siemens, aiming to stimulate the uptake of digital technologies within the manufacturing industry and support the factories of the future across Scotland.
Combining advanced manufacturing and digital expertise, the two organisations will work together to increase the adoption of industry 4.0 within the UK supply chain, encouraging firms of all sizes to embrace digital manufacturing to boost efficiency and productivity.
Smart factories are highly digitalised and connected production facilities that use a constant stream of data to adapt to new demands. This brings enormous opportunity for improvement across all stages of manufacture along with back office and supply chain management.
A global leader in technology for industrial automation and digitalisation, Siemens will provide the world leading research centre, located next to Glasgow Airport, with support in kind to the value of £200k per year.
The company will supply innovative software and hardware, in addition to consultancy and access to research, unlocking smart usage of data to improve manufacturing processes. It will collaborate with the AFRC’s digital manufacturing team, sharing expertise and acting as a testbed for de-risking innovation as firms seek to adopt new technologies.
Siemens technology is already in use across the AFRC’s collaborative research and development projects, including the creation of a digital twin for the whisky cask filling process and a platform offering an industry 4.0 based solution for machinery.
Both Siemens and the AFRC are also collaborating with AFRC Tier One Partner Virtalis. Together they are engaging with firms across Scotland and using a virtual reality environment to help firms enhance their decision making and plan for the future using digital technology.
Michael Ward, technical director at the AFRC, says: “As our digital activities have grown, we’ve continued to expand our use of the extensive suite of Siemens software and we’re extremely excited about the new capabilities that this partnership will open up.
“As the manufacturing sector shifts towards a more data-led approach, it’s crucial that we’re working with industry and supporting companies to use digital technology on shop floors to enhance the factories of the future.
“Working with both Siemens and Virtalis, and other relevant AFRC Members and Partners, we are increasingly using innovative technologies within research projects across a range of sectors, while advancing the development of smart factories.”
Alan Norbury, chief technologist at Siemens, says: “We’re thrilled to come on board as a Tier One Partner at the AFRC, providing support from software to training, enhancing innovation and cross-sector relationship building across Scotland.
“The early stages of adopting industry 4.0 technology are often where companies hit hurdles. Working in partnership with the AFRC, we’re aiming to help customers accelerate investment cycles with enhanced access to skills, technology, processes and research that will reduce risks associated with investment in smart factories.
“As the partnership evolves, we’re keen to share best practice across sectors, engage with small to medium sized businesses to develop fully connected supply chains, and further invest in software, hardware and training to create a strong infrastructure that will maximise benefits of the technology to accelerate digital manufacturing.”
Employing around 170 staff and working with over 350 manufacturing businesses, the University of Strathclyde’s Advanced Forming Research Centre (AFRC) is a globally recognised centre of excellence in innovative manufacturing technologies R&D, and metal forming and forging research. Part of the UK Government’s High Value Manufacturing Catapult, it is the only centre of its kind in Scotland.
OPEN MIND becomes Tier One partner at the AFRC
OPEN MIND Technologies has become a Tier one partner at the University of Strathclyde’s Advanced Forming Research Centre (AFRC) less than one year after securing Tier two membership.
The leading CAM developer joined the centre in August 2017, at the same time installing one licence of its hyperMILL CAM solution, backed by technical expertise from OPEN MIND engineers.
Its upgraded membership will see the firm play a stronger strategic role at the world-leading research centre, joining other prestigious Tier one partners, such as DMG Mori and Virtalis. Commenting upon its developing relationship with the centre, OPEN MIND Technologies’ sales manager, Matt Coulson, says: “We originally provided the AFRC with hyperMILL for R&D projects. After successful implementation, we’ve now installed additional licences to cater for AFRC growth and special project requirements.”
Part of this growth was recently announced with the AFRC securing £16.5million to establish FutureForge, a major new advanced engineering facility that aims to transform one of the manufacturing sector’s most traditional and important supply chains.
Meanwhile, significantly enhancing the centres additive manufacturing and machining capabilities, OPEN MIND Technologies’ software is increasingly used across AFRC’s development projects. Used to increase the productivity of processes, where specialised 5-axis machining is required, the AFRC also plans to introduce the software’s additive manufacturing module into its newly acquired laser metal deposition (LMD) Hybrid machine.
Stephen Fitzpatrick, machining and additive manufacturing team lead at the AFRC, says: “Both machining and additive manufacturing are growth areas within the centre. This means that we can help more companies in new ways to overcome manufacturing challenges and better compete. We’re delighted to be working more closely with OPEN MIND as we focus on building complex features and geometries on our LMD Hybrid Machine, subsequently developing new methods of manufacture for components.”
Speaking about the cutting-edge work taking place at the AFRC, Matt Coulson concludes: “The AFRC is undertaking truly ground-breaking research. OPEN MIND applying its additive manufacturing module to one of the first facilities in the UK demonstrates the level of innovation we’re seeing there.”