Four Northern Ireland manufacturing companies are preparing to transform their production operations and improve their output, after graduating from the latest Digital Catapult Smart Nano NI Accelerator Programme. Following the completion of the programme, it is hoped that by adopting new digital solutions these four companies will further accelerate smart manufacturing in Northern Ireland.
Delivered by Digital Catapult, participating companies Nelipak Healthcare Packaging, Aeroblue Software, Terex and NuPrint Technologies showcased their pioneering solutions during the Smart Manufacturing Programme graduation event last week at North West Regional College’s Industry 4.0 Centre. Supported by consultations with industry and technology experts, each participating company identified challenges within their own or their clients’ businesses to focus their attention on, and developed proposals and plans to solve those challenges.
The programme has been developed in line with commercial expectations around industry 4.0, with demand for manufacturing solutions that leverage cutting-edge technologies increasing amongst customers and commercial partners. For these companies, evaluating and incorporating technologies across industrial photonics, IoT, 5G, immersive and AI and machine learning will improve their manufacturing output, form a strong basis for investment, further funding, and the development of proof of concepts, as well as pave the way for broader industrial implementation.
Each participating company had a comprehensive series of workshops, demonstrations and talks, combined with self-paced learning, remote support and consultation, and throughout the programme, Digital Catapult’s dedicated experts and partners of the Smart Nano Consortium supported the participating companies as they navigated their innovation journey.
Eoghan Murray, Data Analyst at NuPrint Technologies, one of Ireland and the UK’s leading creative label printers, said, ‘With the help of Digital Catapult IoT and Photonics experts on the programme we have been able to explore how we can enhance our quality control through the use of sensors. This will give us more visibility and control over power consumption, material use and job status and ultimately improve our efficiency.’
Lewis Elliott, Process Engineer at Nelipak, the market leader in custom packaging for the medical device and pharmaceutical industry, added, ‘Working with the innovation team and technologists at Digital Catapult has truly accelerated the innovation process for us and given us access to equipment and facilities we would not have had otherwise. The programme has allowed us to explore how the use of Photonics and Industrial IoT can automate certain elements of our process which we hope will improve safety, quality and service for our healthcare customers.’
Additional solutions included the use of immersive technology to provide factory workers with digital instructions for product assembly at Terex Corporation’s Campsie site and developing effective crop monitoring, quality control, planning and scheduling on Aeroblue Software’s platform to reduce waste, and improve operational efficiency using IoT, Photonics, AI and Future Networks.
William Revels, Managing Director at Digital Catapult NI, said, ‘It is fantastic to see another cohort graduate from the Digital Catapult Smart Nano Accelerator Programme. The solutions that have been developed demonstrate the power of collaboration and how Smart Nano NI is enabling the acceleration of smart manufacturing and driving growth in the sector in Northern Ireland. It will be exciting to follow the participants’ journeys as they go on to implement the solutions developed in their businesses.’
The initiative is supported by the UK Research and Innovation’s Strength in Places Fund as an integral part of the five-year journey by nano technology consortium Smart Nano NI to further the development of photonics, smart manufacturing and nanotechnology cluster in Northern Ireland, with this accelerator being delivered by consortium member Digital Catapult NI in collaboration with GEMX.
Orlaith Hurley at Smart Nano NI said, ‘These programmes create a supportive environment for companies to explore opportunities to develop and test new concepts. This will drive innovation in their sector and drive further growth in smart manufacturing. This is only possible through the funding from UK Research and Innovation’s Strength in Places Fund and the partnership between the Consortium partners and the NI ecosystem.’