For the fifth year in a row, the IfM was the official knowledge partner for Digital Manufacturing Week (DMW), which is organised by The Manufacturer and attracts thousands of manufacturers, industry leaders and technology providers who come for expert content, peer-to-peer interaction and to discover the latest solutions and trends.
At this year’s event in Liverpool, the IfM delivered a packed schedule of masterclasses, talks and live demonstrations, helping delegates tackle some of today’s most pressing business challenges.
Strategic IfM Masterclasses
The Smart Factory Expo, the central part of DMW, brings together a selection of innovators and participants, with a focus on emerging technologies relevant for companies wanting to improve standards. Exhibitors showcase the latest technology, process and thinking behind Industry 4.0.
With a dual aspect exhibition space and the dedicated IfM Theatre, the IfM team, accompanied by experienced industrial associates and researchers, were on hand to provide expertise on the latest research and insights into digital and sustainability challenges.
Five IfM strategic masterclasses were hosted by IfM Engage in the IfM Theatre:
- Tools to help reduce your factory's energy consumption introduced the IfM energy saving card game designed to help people think differently about energy saving (led by Professor Steve Evans, the IfM’s Director of Industrial Sustainability).
- Your roadmap to technology and innovation mastery introduced tools and approaches to support successful technology and innovation management (led by IfM Engage Industrial Associates Rob Munro and Andrew Gill).
- Sustainable continuous improvement explored how businesses could find real waste and drive profitable sustainable performance (led by Professor Steve Evans).
- Scope 3 emissions: Ways to engage your supply chain helped delegates to understand upstream and downstream Scope 3 emissions (led by Ergun Gungor from the IfM's Centre for Industrial Sustainability).
- Where best to digitalise covered how delegates could identify core competences, and how to use this to give an indication of where their business would get the most benefit from digital transformation (led by Dr Imoh Ilevbare, Principal Solution Development Specialist with IfM Engage).
‘We’ve had some great conversations about the professional education and consultation services we offer,’ said Rob Driver, IfM Engage Marketing Manager.
‘And we hope these conversations and our expert-led strategic Masterclasses will provide delegates with a fresh perspective as well as practical guidance on how to move forward, particularly in these challenging times.’
Manufacturing Leaders’ Summit
At the Manufacturing Leaders’ Summit, delegates heard from high-level manufacturing speakers from around the globe.
Delivering the first keynote of the Leaders’ Summit on Day 1, Tim Minshall, Dr John C Taylor Professor of Innovation and Head of the IfM, addressed delegates by asking: Do we need to talk differently about manufacturing?
Tim explained how, despite the UK being the 4th largest manufacturing economy in Europe and 9th in the world, UK manufacturing is currently undervalued, and how the importance of manufacturing seems to lack real punch and clarity.
Tim drew on examples from the IfM’s research, knowledge, and solutions to explore why we need to re-think the way we talk about manufacturing in order to deliver long-term value-add to the economy.
Digital Manufacturing on a Shoestring
At the Digital Manufacturing on a Shoestring exhibition stand, delegates were able to meet the team, see the low-cost digital solutions in action and find out how to get involved in the programme.
Shoestring showcased a range of low-cost digital solutions at Factory Expo, including a temperature monitoring solution on a coffee machine.
Over 100 people working in manufacturing came to see the solutions at Shoestring’s exhibition stand. Three demonstrations featured on the stand, as well as a large screen displaying a dashboard showing live data from the sensing system on the coffee machine in operation on the University of Cambridge / IfM stand round the corner.
Professor Duncan McFarlane, Shoestring lead, gave a keynote address at the SME Growth Summit on Day 2, addressing how the Shoestring programme uses an inventive approach to help small and medium-sized manufacturers embrace digitalisation with simple components and software to create practical low-cost, low-risk digital solutions.
Women in Manufacturing
IfM Engage’s Jennifer Castañeda-Navarrete (Policy Links) and Jill MacBryde (University of Strathclyde and InterActHub), chaired a discussion panel on gender inequalities in digital manufacturing, funded by InterAct.
Panellists included Katy Davies (Camden Boss), Nicole Ballantyne (MESTEC) and Nipuni Karunaratne (Ivy Tech and Rolls Royce).
The panellists discussed the lack of understanding of the opportunities available to women in manufacturing and the importance of increasing the visibility of role models in a wide variety of manufacturing roles – from traditional shop-floor jobs to less traditional roles associated with the industry such as HR and marketing.
They also discussed the increasing opportunities in digital manufacturing as the sector undergoes a transformation, and how digital manufacturing has the potential to unlock a more flexible working environment for both men and women.
Jennifer Castañeda-Navarrete concluded: ‘Even though women may be better at networking, we usually have less opportunities for networking so we need to create more spaces where we can all participate. It’s also essential [that] women from different backgrounds – both engineering and other educational backgrounds – are represented and are recognised as contributing to the sector.’
Attendees to the discussion panel and the networking reception afterward were invited to contribute their thoughts and opinions on the barriers and opportunities for women in digital manufacturing via this survey.
UK Innovation Report consultations
Two consultations were held by Cambridge Industrial Innovation Policy (CIIP) inviting members from the aerospace and food and drinks sectors to contribute their own perspectives and experiences for the UK Innovation Report 2023.
The report is an annual publication that reviews the UK’s innovation and industrial performance in comparison with that of other selected countries. The data is used to contribute to the evidence base available to inform industrial and innovation policy. The 2023 edition of the report will take a deeper look into the aerospace and food and drinks industries as two of the key sectors in the UK.
Determined that the data in the report is supported by findings from industry and to represent the reality behind the numbers in order to make effective policy recommendations, delegates from the sectors were asked by CIIP’s Carlos López-Gómez and David Leal Ayala:
- Is the sector becoming more or less competitive internationally?
- How is the sector performing in terms of productivity, value added and employment?
- Is the UK sector investing enough in R&D compared to their international competitors?
Thank you to everyone who gave their time to contribute to these sessions.
We will be holding additional consultations with people from aerospace and food and drink companies and industry associations in London on Friday 8th December – please contact Ella Whellams (erd30cam.ac.uk) for more information about taking part.