Innovative Manufacturing Working Group – 28th September 2021

28 September 2021

This event brought together manufacturers, academic partners, funding bodies and others together, focusing on capturing and using data in manufacturing.

After a welcome from Jason Aldridge, the group Chair, Rob McGrail from Armac Martin kicked the session off with their experience of introducing data capture from both the machines, through directing monitoring of the current to the coolant pump spindle, and the operators, through a barcode scanning system. He explained how this gave them a good insight into what was happening in the factory and some of the challenges they had faced along the way. The final thought he left us with was that Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)/Industry 4.0 is not beyond SMEs.

Iain Collis from Metal Assemblies then shared his ongoing experience of using a Knowledge Transfer Partnership to bring understanding into the business of how they could capture and use data. He explained that one of the important aspects was that someone in the company was now focused on how they could move this project forward, so it does not fall to one side as production demands increase.

Keeping the group linked to the wider innovation area Pam Waddell gave us an update on what was happening in the Innovation Alliance for the West Midlands before we heard about three specific opportunities. Al-Amin Dabo explained the DIGi-RAIL project and how it could help companies get into the rail industry. Jeremy Whittingham told us what we could expect to see at the Advanced Engineering show this year. Finally Mark Crowne from Nexer Insights UK explained about the work that they do with data and the opportunity to apply for Microsoft funding to support projects.

We finished up the event with a set of discussion groups focusing on data connectivity in manufacturers. From the feedback we learned that the terminology that is used can put people off from looking more deeply into the topic. It is important that the reasons for investing in data capture and other digital technologies is clear to the business. Some that were suggested include gaining insights about processes in terms of efficiency and quality. Another key reason highlighted was the role in providing evidence for investment priorities. Finally it’s important not to overlook the people side when bringing in the technology. Employees need to know what is happening and be engaged in how it is to be used. In many cases there is also the opportunity to upskill.

Next session is scheduled for 13 December 2021 and is being hosted with our sister, Innovative Zero Carbon Working Group. You can register for the event shortly.

Access the full event slides below…

Contact Liz McArdle on for information and to request to join the group mailing list.