Innovation Alley companies powering the smart factory revolution

Posted on: 21/09/2022

Meet 8 of the highly innovative businesses already signed up to exhibit at this year’s Made Smarter Innovation Alley - all boasting disruptive digital technologies, powering the smart factory revolution.

Made Smarter Innovation Alley is the UK’s primary showcase of new, disruptive, innovation digital technologies for the manufacturing sector.  It runs through the heart of Smart Factory Expo, the exhibition area of Digital Manufacturing Week taking place in Liverpool on 16 and 17 November 2022.  Innovate UK funds 50 of the UK’s most innovative businesses to exhibit on Innovation Alley each year.  Supported by Innovate UK KTN, this is a great opportunity for startups and scale ups to:

  • Reach the right audiences (over 5,000 manufacturers attend Smart Factory Expo every year)
  • Build partnerships that can enhance digital technology solutions to become much more appealing to larger manufacturing customers
  • Market test new ideas and solutions with the people who would be using them

The companies that are selected to be on Innovation Alley are aligned with the various Industrial Digital Technologies (IDTs) identified with Made Smarter Innovation – these being Additive Manufacturing, Blockchain, Data Analytics, Artificial intelligence and Machine learning technologies, Immersive Technologies such as VR and AR, Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), Robotics and Automation and Sensors.

In particular, the Made Smarter Innovation team is looking to drive forward on AI and Machine Learning, as well as Robotics & Automation. 

Luffy AI

AI is seen to be a key enabling technology in controlling work flows within supply chains and so technologies developed by companies such as Luffy AI provide manufacturers with opportunity to utilise state of the art technologies.

“Luffy AI develops adaptive neural networks that allow learning and adaptation at the edge. We develop AI control systems that can learn the nuances of the process being controlled and adapt to changes over time to maintain optimal process efficiency. We are currently deploying one of our adaptive AI controllers into a composites process with a UK SME. The AI will replace conventional PID controllers and allow better control of the temperature profile, reducing the tuning time of the process and increasing overall throughput and efficiency. This technology is suitable for any industrial process that is sensitive to environmental parameters, feedstock changes, or generally difficult to tune.”

“We are excited to be part of the Made Smarter Innovation Alley as we would like to engage with Industry 4.0 OEMs and manufacturers, particularly organisations in materials, forming & foundation industries” said Matthew Carr, CEO.

 

However, AI will never be the full solution in itself and will usually work in tandem with other technologies, for example those that can capture and transform incoming data from which AI technologies can make decisions.

SparkIntelligence

SparkIntelligence provides end-to-end consultancy services to organisations of all sizes who may be looking to implement or test computer vision use cases from requirements elicitation, data acquisition, data preparation, algorithm development to deployment using their computer vision platform, “SparkFlow”.

“SparkFlow” enables organisations to accelerate and simplify the process of implementing computer vision applications, from initial proof of concepts to state-of-the-art artificial intelligence models, ready to be integrated within their custom hardware device or deployed either as a cloud software service or on a customer edge device, enabling manufacturers and supply chain to add AI to their existing infrastructure without the need for any new hardware.

Currently deployed solutions include pallet racking defect detection, PPE compliance detection, footfall tracking, object counting, stock counting and inventory management.

Michael Olabode, CEO of Spark Intelligence, said “We are interested in being part of the Made Smarter Innovation Alley as it gives us an excellent platform to showcase our technology.  It is also the ideal meeting place for us to network and engage with prospective customers and partners, all under one roof.”

Vu3D

Vu3D is another example of a technical solution for accessing data on which to make process and quality improvements.

Vu3 has a suite of 3D immersive solutions which provides a 3D digital twin for manufactures with integrated digital content and Real Time data streaming info from IOT sensors or activators, allowing stakeholders to immerse themselves in a manufacturing space, gather info without being there in person.

Live Visuals along with IOT controls can provide Live Data.  3D Digital twins can also be used as multi tools such as training, data capture, or part of a more unified digital system.

Director Ben Ghazani said “Made Smarter Innovation Alley provides us with a fantastic opportunity to interact with manufacturing partners and clients and demonstrate how the 3D digital twins can deliver real-time data capture without physical visits.”

 

The ability to interpret and analyse data is in turn reliant on the right data being available at the right time at the necessary stage of manufacturing, which is achieved through the latest sensing technologies:

Observant Innovations

Observant Innovations designs and manufactures solutions for inspection, monitoring and surveillance challenges.  Their APERTURE imaging workbench can capture, manipulate, process and store, in real-time, very high quality imagery for professionals in many different use cases, including emergency services, military, inspection and monitoring, safety and security.

John Scholes, Chairman, said “Made Smarter Innovation Alley will give Observant the opportunity to show its capability to prospective users, particularly in precision manufacturing and complementary technology providers of sensors, lighting, optical components and robotics.”

Clyde Hyperspectral

Scottish based Clyde Hyperspectral Imaging and Technology Ltd. (ClydeHSI) are specialists in hyperspectral imaging and optical spectroscopy, and provide a wide range of both hyperspectral and conventional spectroscopy instruments and full systems. Their products are supported by leading software for data acquisition, analysis and display to ensure robust, reliable, accurate and repeatable hyperspectral imaging measurements across a range of academic and industrial applications.

John Gilchrist, Managing Director, said “We are coming on the Alley to increase our exposure to new companies across a wide range of sectors including food and beverage, food packaging companies and machine vision integrators.”

 

The companies above provide in depth analysis and understanding of, what can be, complicated manufacturing processes. However, the key to a specific company’s successful adoption of digital technologies may be simply from the benefit of knowing the location of materials and products in the first instance.

These solutions can be provided from companies such as RFIDiom:

RFIDiom

RFIDiom‘s RFID asset tracking solution, Stokware, helps businesses to have a bird’s eye view of where their assets are at any time. It is an innovative RTLS (Real Time Location System) that is easy to use and brings many benefits for SMEs. It allows for intelligent picking of stock from warehouses, root cause analysis in the event of problems and real time reporting to ensure that critical targets are met.

Operations Director, Sujita Purushothaman, said “Made Smarter Innovation Alley is a great opportunity for us to meet customers, partners and suppliers.  We want to show SMEs how easy it is to use Stokware and highlight where it can really add value.”

 

There are a multitude of potential solutions that companies exhibiting at Innovation Alley can bring to the UK manufacturing ecosystem regarding collection, visualisation and interpretation of data. But employees should not be forgotten as manual intervention will be required during t​​he manufacturing processes. Technology can also help here, for example with detecting when human error is likely to occur.

FC Laboratories

Globally there are 375m workplace injuries and 380k fatalities every year, costing over $1.1 trillion. Human error is a factor in over 90% of these incidents. Our risk of error fluctuates constantly. Factors such as lack of sleep, distraction, boredom, stress and anxiety can all lead to an increase in risk of even momentary lapses in focus or judgement, but these are difficult to track and even harder to predict, particularly at any sort of scale.

Developed by neurotech start-up FC Laboratories, CoreTech is a wearable worker wellbeing solution which tackles this problem head on. Patent pending technology provides individuals, teams and businesses with data which identifies, quantifies and predicts the risk of human error, enabling them to reduce errors and mistakes, avoid accidents and injuries, optimise performance, improve mental health & wellbeing and increase productivity and profitability.

CEO Mathew Norbury said “Our focus to date has been ‘hard hat’ sectors such as construction and engineering, but we are keen to build engagement with the manufacturing sector to raise awareness of what we’re doing, get feedback from potential customers (or other partners), add manufacturing companies to our Validation Group (with field trials underway from October 22) and identify potential partnership/collaboration/integration opportunities with other technology solution providers. Innovation Alley is an ideal way to do this.”

 

Finally, Innovation Alley can be used to share novel manufacturing processes to meet a specific market need, for example:

Q5D – Automating wiring harness manufacture

Q5D makes equipment that uses 5 axis 3D printing and other techniques to automate the process of adding electrical functions, components and wiring, to complex shaped components such as an injection moulded part, or composite panel.

Operations Manager, Peter Todd, said “Made Smarter Innovation Alley is a great place for us to raise awareness of the opportunities our technology offers to Aerospace, Automotive and other manufacturing sectors.”

 

These IDTs supported across Innovation Alley are instrumental to the future success of the UK manufacturing sector and form the backbone of the Government’s plans to revamp the sector:

  • Robotics and Automation is now the core technology for developing smart and flexible manufacturing capabilities in smart manufacturing.
  • Blockchain can enable manufacturers to exchange data more easily, accurately and securely within complex supply chains
  • Data Analytics, Artificial intelligence and Machine learning technologies have a wide range of applications within manufacturing, including machine maintenance and improved accuracy in demand forecasting.
  • Immersive Technologies such as VR and AR can be applied in various scenarios in manufacturing, such as providing remote expert support, validating manufacturing processes and prototyping manufacturing processes.
  • Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and connectivity integrates and gathers data from connected devices, such as manufacturing equipment and tools, and sensors, enabling faster decision making for industrial companies.
  • Additive Manufacturing is extensively used in many industrial manufacturing processes and applications.
  • Sensors can be used in manufacturing processes to gather real-time data to detect defects, monitor machinery and the manufacturing process itself as well as to enable traceability on the shopfloor.

 

There are only a few fully funded places left on Innovation Alley 2022.  If you have an innovative digital technology that will transform manufacturing, sign up at https://www.digital-manufacturing-week.com/innovation-alley-funded-stand or speak to Mat Wasley at Innovate UK KTN to find out more. 

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