UK government grants £13.7m for sustainable smart factories

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The UK government has awarded combined funding of £13.7 million to help improve the energy efficiency, productivity and sustainability of manufacturing processes, smart factory projects that include 3D printing at a record scale, using AI to make steel production more productive, and using big data to make century-old bakery machines more efficient.

The UKRI-led Sustainable Smart Factory competition funds projects that harness digital innovations, such as AI, big data and virtual reality (to name a few), to boost efficiency energy and carbon, while stimulating the growth of manufacturers. The projects that have been funded aim to optimize the use of materials, reduce and reuse waste or reduce energy consumption to increase the sustainability of production.

As part of the Made Smarter Innovation Challenge, the two 3D printing-based projects include lead factoryled by Photocentric (£1,052,168) – the first technology that will allow products to be 3D printed to scale using recycled materials, and a Network of AI 3D printing factories across the UKled by Batch.works Limited (£876,390) – integrating AI to reduce the failure rate of 3D printing and automating processes to increase the use of recycled materials.

Parts printed with Daylight resins from Photocentric

Other funded projects include Smart and sustainable manufacturing for the baking industryled by Rakusen Limited (£610,168) – using AI to improve the consistency of products made by their century-old bakery machines and helping to reduce energy consumption by 60%, WasteMapled by Topolytics (£510,410) – using machine learning to develop a visual map of useful and reusable manufacturing products that can be extracted from our waste system, Reducing Energy Consumption and Material Loss in Steel Production Using Predictive Machine Learningled by Deep.Meta (£991,026) – using machine learning to boost the sustainability of steel production by predicting where inefficiencies are before they happen, INSPIRE, lead by PragmatIC Semiconductor (£1,202,712) – tackling global semiconductor shortages using AI to optimize manufacturing productivity and efficiency, and Smart people + smart processes = smart factoryled by Raynor Foods Limited (£1,242,345) – turning sustainability into a game at the Raynor Foods sandwich factory to allow staff to see and then act on their energy use and CO2 footprint in real time.

“Creating and adopting the latest digital technology solutions will be key to the continued success of our manufacturing sector. It is now essential that companies in sectors as varied as baking or advanced robotics maximize their potential using technologies such as AI and virtual reality,” said Jackie Doyle-Price, Minister of Industry of the Kingdom. -United. “The projects funded today will reduce energy consumption and drive business growth across all regions of the UK, while helping our leading global manufacturers keep pace with ever-increasing global competition.”

It is estimated that the projects could create 1,000 jobs within 3 years of completion, while reducing manufacturing CO2 emissions by 300,000 tonnes a year, equivalent to removing nearly 65,000 cars from UK roads.

The UK government is providing £13.7 million in funding for sustainable smart factory projects.  Including projects led by Photocentric and Batch.works.
3D printed household items from Batch.Works

The successful project consortia each have between two and 10 participating organisations, giving a total of 55 participating organisations. These included participants spanning from Scotland to the South West and from Northern Ireland to East Anglia. They are made up of both SMEs and large manufacturers, as well as technology developers, universities and research and technology organizations.

“Effective digital technologies can have a substantial impact on manufacturing, bringing outdated, inefficient and unproductive products and processes up to the standards needed for a net-zero industry of the future. It’s clear from the wide range of entries we received how waste and energy issues cut across different industries,” said Chris Needham, Chief Innovation Officer of the Made Smarter Innovation Challenge. “The successful candidates clearly demonstrated true innovation and demonstrated how the right use of data and technology can make a significant difference to businesses. We now look forward to working alongside them to achieve fruitful results.

The Made Smarter Innovation Challenge, worth £147 million, supports the transformation of manufacturing in the UK by paving the way for the development and integration of new and existing industrial digital technologies. The challenge helps remove innovation risks for UK manufacturers and supports the development of technologies that can be exploited commercially.

“The digital innovations we are supporting today could help manufacturers of products as diverse as steel to semiconductors drive growth, create high-quality jobs and improve energy efficiency,” Nusrat said. Ghani, UK Science Minister. “Through collaboration between leading UK researchers, technology companies and manufacturers, these innovations will ensure that UK industry remains globally competitive, while delivering benefits to businesses across UK regions. »

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