Northern Crucible 2020: Law and Industry 4.0

Northern Crucible group are listening to the talks

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:

  1. The companies who learn and use Industry 4.0 will survive the next decade. Those who cannot cope, will downsize or even disappear
  2. 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
  3. A large amount of security risks was through lack of simple training
  4. 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.

Northern Crucible visits United Cast Bar

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.

Northern Crucible is determined to explore smart manufacturing for the benefit of its members

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 IOT Tribe Visit

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.

Northern Crucible High Value usage energy saving event

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.

Kayleigh Thompson, Professional Energy Purchasing Ltd
Shawn Duckett,
Account Director, GridBeyond
James Brand MD 
United Cast Bar
National Fluid Power centre. The tour
John Savage, founder and Director of the National Fluid Power Centre (NFPC) (middle)
John has had an amazing 50 year career working in the fluid power industry from Mining Apprentice to Lifetime Contribution Award in Fluid Power and Control and the Joseph Bramah Medal awarded by IMech E. Supported by an Industry Advisory and Strategic Planning Group consisting of over 50 World Class Companies, the NFPC has become the UKs flagship Training Centre for specialist short courses involving HYDRAULICS, ELECTRO-PNEUMATICS and APPLIED ELECTRONICS AND CONTROL.
John will give a short presentation about the Centre and how improved levels of knowledge and skills can save energy in Fluid Power Systems and improve performance, productivity and machinery up-time

Northern Crucible SELA Visit

Over the last nine months, a team of SELA’s undergraduate engineering leaders has been developing and promoting approaches to using Internet of Things technologies to increase efficiency in manufacturing businesses across the Sheffield City Region, in a bid to boost productivity. The team has also responded to the fears of companies about capital expenditure, recognising this as a barrier to adoption.

Generously supported by a local manufacturer Tinsley Bridge and mentored by Head of IT Alex Kelly, the team was able to see challenges in manufacturing first-hand. They then moved on to develop a system to monitor electricity usage down to the level of individual machines in a manufacturing facility. The SELA team recognised the capital expenditure concerns as a barrier to adoption of digital technologies and they developed a low-cost prototype, consisting of sensors for data acquisition, a data transmission device and a dashboard that displays real-time data and management information. The prototype was recently showcased at an event with the Northern Crucible manufacturing group attended by over 40 industrial leaders in the north. It received heightened interest as a simple solution to an age-old problem – hence it is already proving to be a good tool in impacting and encouraging manufacturing leaders towards adopting IoT in their own plants.

Northern Crucible Introduction

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.