Successful Innovation in Manufacturing Using the Internet of Things: event summary


On 19th May the Pitch-In programme hosted the fourth session in its series of online mini-events: Successful innovation in manufacturing using the Internet of Things.

The event showcased a selection of findings from the Pitch-In programme’s manufacturing projects. These demonstrated how digitalisation and the adoption of IoT can transform efficiencies, and in particular how low-cost automation, collaborative analytics, and strategic digitalisation processes can be implemented in small, medium and large manufacturing companies.

The manufacturing theme sponsored 18 mini-projects with collaborations across the universities of Cambridge, Oxford and Sheffield and a number of industry partners. These have included Rolls Royce, Federal Mogul, VCL, Fetch, Siemens, James and James, Sowka, Warren Services, Beko, PCML, BTL, Tinsley Bridge, Schlumberger, Mapp, UKWA and the AMRC.

Projects have covered themes such as the manufacturing processes, technology and innovation management, automation and control engineering, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, supply chain and logistics and business strategy.

The Pitch-In programme has sought to encourage and facilitate Knowledge Exchange (KE) around IoT innovation and adoption. The universities’ KE activities allow them to engage with the wider world to make a contribution to the economy and society, and, in return, receive inspiration and practical guidance to channel their research efforts.

The key KE lessons coming out of the manufacturing projects include

  • Creating and sharing demonstrators has made academia focus on solving real world industry problems that show the benefits of the research in an accessible way.

  • Listening to industry to make sure technology fits business needs, which in turn helps improve take-up of new tech developments. For example, mapping out visually how data sharing in real-time can improve decision making and efficiencies in the supply chain.

  • HEIs and industry collaboration via hackathons (where industry and students work together to solve a clearly defined problem) and internships will inspire the next generation and encourage greater collaboration between research projects

  • Accessing and utilising data from multiple stakeholders and sharing it in real-time has huge potential to demonstrate how data can be shared securely and enable industry efficiencies.

  • Recognising the importance of continuing education across broader groups, keeping non-technical managers informed about technological opportunities and providing entry level introduction to the IoT will encourage the incorporation of IoT into new business solutions.

  • Cross-lab collaboration across research groups broadens the scope of the research and enables the research to reach bigger external audiences, and leads to follow on projects. Learning can be shared across domains, for example: manufacturing with construction and healthcare.

Nearly 140 participants joined us on the day. Many thanks to the chair and theme lead, Dr Alexandra Brintrup and speakers Professor Duncan McFarlane, Dr Frank Tietze, Dr Florian Urmetzer from the University of Cambridge and Dr Boyang Song and Professor John Clark from the University of Sheffield.

If you missed the presentations, you can watch a recording of the event below:

  • 00:00:00 – Dr Alexandra Brintrup, Institute for Manufacturing, University of Cambridge – Welcome and introduction

  • 00:08:30 – Professor Duncan McFarlane, Institute for Manufacturing, University of Cambridge – Demonstration of Low Cost Automation Solutions for SME Adoption of Digital Manufacturing Dr Boyang Song, University of Sheffield

  • 00:18:00 – Dr Frank Tietze, Institute for Manufacturing, University of Cambridge – Automated Licensing Payment Systems

  • 00:27:44 – Dr Alexandra Brintrup, Institute for Manufacturing, University of Cambridge – IoT for Supply Chain Integration

  • 00:38:33 – Dr Boyang Song, University of Sheffield – IIoT and Predictive Maintenance for Legacy Manufacturing System

  • 00:48:05 – Dr Florian Urmetzer, Institute for Manufacturing, University of Cambridge – Executive Education

  • 01:00:35 – Professor John Clark, University of Sheffield – Wider Challenges and Future Prospects

Successful innovation in manufacturing using IoT is part of the Pitch-In event series, marking the end of the three-year collaboration between the Universities of Sheffield, Cambridge, Oxford and Newcastle. Pitch-In is funded by Research England’s Connecting Capability Fund (CCF).