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 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 IOT meeting Event

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.

SELA students
SELA students presenting
Northern Crucible members, enthused with innovation!
Northern Crucible members
Northern Crucible
The Diamond, University of Sheffield. A £50mln engineering department at the heart of Sheffield.
Prof. Rab Scott
Professor Rab Scott giving a inspirational talk.