As the dust settles after busy preparation for the first Northern Crucible meeting of 2020, here are some reflections and observations. In this event, we have placed our focus on Industry 4.0 and legislation surrounding it. The presentations included an in-depth overview of Industry 4.0. Mike Burrows from RS Components gave an insight to their first forays into rolling out this technology, what challenges the company faced and how they were overcome. Mike also discussed what was achieved as a result of implementing Industry 4.0. It was a very hands-on perspective on the challenge itself and on how it can be broken down to sizable chunks and implemented in a real-life factory scenario.
Irwin Mitchell also delivered three talks: one on why we gather more data and how this data gets used; the second talk was about personal data and how the government is more likely to support claims of individuals on misuse of data by large companies. The third talk focused on types of cyber-attacks and risks involved. For every risk, a defense strategy was offered.
The topic of the event (Industry 4.0 and connectivity) was particularly well received by the local heavy industry contingent in the meeting. This sector faces strong realization that implementing Industry 4.0 principles can turbo-charge their processes. Several attendees from metal industries have written in with positive feedback of how relevant and timely the meeting was. Some key points everyone agreed on:
The companies who learn and use Industry 4.0 will survive the next decade. Those who cannot cope, will downsize or even disappear
Training is the key to success. The biggest restriction to progress was board level not understanding how to roll this out. Even IT leaders, who had not kept up-to-date, were being left behind
A large amount of security risks was through lack of simple training
49% of companies have been security breached. Cyber-security is the key to safe processes
This event was kindly hosted by Irwin Mitchell at their headquarters in Sheffield. Irwin Mitchell is a full-service law firm with 15 sites in the UK. With over 1000 attorneys, it is one of the largest law firms in the UK. This event was supported by their manufacturing legal team. Also joining us on the night, was RS Components, a global trading company supplying electronic components and equipment. They have a worldwide turnover over £2.4 billion and are part of UK manufacturing supply chain backbone.
A very impressive Northern Crucible event was held at Casa Hotel Chesterfield on the 18th of June, 2019. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss various ways of smart manufacturing and energy saving, in particular in heavy industry, such as metallurgy, foundries or anyone who uses furnace type equipment. As usual, the event attracted a melting pot of manufacturers, academics and service providers, who together represent the shared enthusiasm, knowledge and experience to push boundaries and ensure continuous improvement.
The highlight of the event was a very engaging site visit to United Cast Bar, where we all got to witness a remarkable process of casting the record-breaking diameter iron bar in the world. The complex process was timed specifically to coincide with our visit, so the attendees were able to see it for themselves. James Brand, the MD of the company, has shared his experience in using an innovative method allowing 15% energy saving in their cast processes. James was also happy to share this good practice with other companies.
On return to Casa, we had a detailed discussion of the observed method with the supplier of the energy-saving system currently used at United Cast Bar. The Question and Answer session involved most of the audience in participation, which indicated the importance of the topic to the local industry.
The continuation of the event saw academic input from Ben Steer (University of Sheffield, Engineering student) and Dale Riahi (AMRC, PhD student), who discussed further smart technology and new ways of making production even more efficient. As part of Norther Crucible, academic perspective is always there for manufacturers in order to break barriers between cutting edge technology fresh from scientific papers and its implementation in the real world.
In our June event (Casa Hotel, Chesterfield, 18.06.2019, 18:00), we continue to investigate smart manufacturing, including cost-effective ways to save energy. The event will include a site visit to United Cast Bar, where we will see a unique functional high energy saving solution.
The event starts at 18:00 in Casa Hotel, Lockwood Lane, Chesterfield, S41 7JB. On arrival, please report to reception and you will be guided up. This event is fact finding. Please bring your questions, suggestions and enthusiasm for innovation.
Event sponsor: Professional Energy Purchasing Ltd.
Northern Crucible visits IoT Tribe! The event is aimed at strengthening ties between start-ups, corporates and the broader global deeptech ecosystem. Our mission is to get start-ups to their first big enterprise sale and give our corporate partners access to the technologies that can fuel their businesses.
Founders are immersed in vibrant local and global manufacturing ecosystems and global business and investment networks from day one and supported by our outstanding mentors and technology partners.
April’s Northern Crucible event: 30th of April, 6.30pm. The venue: the National Fluid Power Centre, Carlton Road, Worksop, S81 7H.
In our April event, Northern Crucible members discussed real case studies focusing on real engineering solutions. Members heard presentations from Professional Energy Purchasing, GridBeyond and United Cast Bar. We have discussed one of the most acute costs in metal industry, energy, and looked into ways of optimising its use and storage from three view points: that of manufacturers, energy brokers and the National Grid.
If you are an engineer or a plant manager (or just involved in running a manufacturing business), you are eagerly invited to join the Northern Crucible group and benefit from this highly informative exchange of knowledge, experience and ideas.
Another great evening with the Northern Crucible! This was our third event and we have turned our attention to smart manufacturing, Internet of Things and digital connectivity in industry. Event was kindly hosted by Siemens at their MindSphere Lounge in The Diamond at the University of Sheffield.
The Diamond itself is a futuristic building that hosts world-class engineering, teaching and research facilities. The Northern Crucible members were treated to a building tour and saw how the University are bringing the next generation of engineering talent through.
The theme for the night was Internet of Things (#IoT) and smart manufacturing. The presentations included an inspirational talk by the very engaging professor Rab Scott from the rapidly expanding Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC). Prof. Scott gave an overview of the five key digital technologies: virtual and augmented reality, additive manufacturing, robotics and automation, machine learning (AI) and Internet of Things. It was also fantastic to see the high quality of innovation generated by the IOT Tribe start-up accelerator in the north.
The joy of the evening was a live project presented by the Sheffield Engineering Leadership Academy undergraduate students. Supported by Tinsley Bridge Group, the team analysed production, identified peaks of energy use and developed a way to accurately monitor energy consumption over a period of time.
Our next Northern Crucible event will take place at 7pm on 20th February and I am very pleased to announce that Kevin Parkin ‘The Turnaround King’ will be joining us as a guest speaker. Kevin has been described as a “No Nonsense, hands-on general manager and turnaround professional.” He is an enthusiastic communicator and a believer that high quality communication, training and succession planning are key business drivers. In December 2015, Kevin led an MBI of Precision Technology International Ltd (PTI) a manufacturer of demanding power train components based in Tamworth, Staffordshire. In 2006, Kevin joined DavyMarkham, recruited and promoted a new management team who made a £1m profit turnaround in 18 months. He then led an MBO and resurrected the apprentice training scheme which had been abandoned twenty five years previously. Kevin is a Freeman of the Company of Cutlers, is an ex-Chairman of the work-wise Foundation and is a member of the Steering Group for the Advanced Metallic Systems PhD Program at Sheffield University.
Inaugural meeting of the Northern Crucible. Stimulating networking discussions and a very relevant talk on implications of Britain exiting the EU for the British industry and trade. The talk was delivered by the South Yorkshire International Trade Centre.
I would like to give you a preview of our guest speaker who will cover topics related to trade and export in the current climate. Based in Cape Town, Nick Patrick spent 4 years developing the Southern African market for his employer, a UK based Chemical manufacturing concern in Yorkshire. He then moved back to the UK but spent many years travelling around the globe. As a technical and commercial manager in manufacturing, Nick sought suitable agents, distributors and business partners in all manufacturing regions of the world. As head of the South Yorkshire International Trade Centre, Nick’s main concern is to provide a comprehensive International Trade package on a practical level for importers and exporters covering all aspects of doing business overseas. Over the past 2 years, SYITC have taken on board a specialism in world customs compliance in view of the Trusted Trader SAFE Framework for global trade initiative. SYITC offers practical help steering companies through the Brexit question, looking at damage limitation as well as the opportunities it will present.
The Northern Crucible is an exclusive forum of manufacturing leadership. It allows for free exchange of knowledge and techniques across the different disciplines and sectors that make up manufacturing. We are committed to free debate, encouragement of knowledge, innovation and smart production principles.
We bring engineering heritage of the north of England and academic expertise together for mutual growth and prosperity.
The Northern Crucible organises seminars aimed at stimulating thought and addressing issues that are of real concern to manufacturers.