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Manufacturing Made Smarter challenge

Manufacturing Made Smarter challenge


Made Smarter logo

(Credit: Made Smarter UK)

What is the Manufacturing Made Smarter challenge?

The Manufacturing Made Smarter (MMS) challenge is dedicated to the innovation of digital technologies within UK manufacturing. The Made Smarter report published in 2017 had the ambition that ‘By 2030, the UK will be a global industrial leader in creating, adopting and exporting advanced digital technologies, shaping how the world does business’. 

Four key areas make up the Made Smarter movement; Adoption, Leadership, Skills and Innovation. The Manufacturing Made Smarter challenge will deliver the Innovation programme.

The Manufacturing Made Smarter challenge programme will create a connected ecosystem harnessing the power of the UK's leading companies large and small, large technology developers and new start-ups and spinouts, and our world-leading research institutions, increasing the number of collaborations up the value chain.  

The challenge aims to harness the transformative power of this ecosystem to deliver a modern, connected, resilient and flexible, significantly more productive, and environmentally sustainable UK manufacturing sector and a vibrant technology sector that enables that transformation. By increasing the sustainability of the UK Manufacturing industry, this will create an increase of reusable resources and reduction in waste and carbon emissions.

As a fundamental part of the Government’s modern Industrial Strategy, the programme will create unique cross-sector collaborations between UK manufacturing sectors to drive the creation of common digital solutions. This will create a radical yet cost-effective set of innovative solutions and transformed businesses and increase UK manufacturing and digital manufacturing solution exports.

Through supporting participants to collaborate in creating hundreds of innovating new digital solutions across all manufacturing sectors, it will ensure the long-term prosperity of UK Manufacturing, raising total productivity, making the UK a global leader of the 4th Industrial Revolution.

What is the investment?

A £147m investment from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund will support the transformation of UK manufacturing capabilities through the adoption of industrial digital technologies. In addition, a minimum of £147m investment will come from the UK manufacturing industry.

From launch through to 2025, the Manufacturing Made Smarter Challenge will deploy a range of tailored packages, typically with a core funding value up to £20m and further boosted by the investment from industrial participants.

What is the opportunity?

Opportunities are being made available to UK-based researchers and businesses. Whilst not exhaustive the list below describes the initial themes and areas of interest.

Smart connected factory - The overall intent of this theme is to harness technologies to optimise the design and execution of current and future factories.

  • Manufacturing process and operations
    • Use of robotics or additive manufacturing to accelerate processes
    • Dynamic, real time production planning and scheduling
    • Digital twins of facilities & processes to optimise future designs or current state
    • Real time/in process quality monitoring and process optimisation
    • Digital track and trace systems
  • Asset management optimisation
  • Use of robotics and autonomous systems to improve productivity or worker safety
  • Connected worker – augmented & virtual solutions for task assistance, training or safety

Connected and versatile supply chain - The overall intent of this theme is to harness technologies to optimise the design and execution of current and future supply chains.

  • Interoperability and understandability of data across value chains
  • Supply chain design:
    • End to end supply chain visibility and effective risk management
    • Sustainable supply chains for increased flexibility
    • Warehouse and logistic optimisation
    • New business models such as distributed manufacturing
  • Supply chain execution:
    • Demand management, sensing and shaping
    • Improved decision-making through analytics and artificial intelligence (AI)
    • Production planning or scenario modelling
    • Track-and-trace technologies, traceability and provenance

Adaptable, flexible manufacturing operations and skills

  • Enabling customisation: adapting processes to smaller batch size production, rapidly configurable processes with reduction of design and production time.
  • Flexible /distributed manufacturing using a flexible network of supply and skills to manage volatility/disruption effectively.
  • Simulation and understanding of real work using data from people and industrial systems, efficient transfer of trial results to the workplace.

Design, make, test

  • Test transforming product design through digital technologies
  • Virtual product testing, verification and validation, quality monitoring and inspection

Whilst other technology areas will emerge and be part of the overall challenge, the key digital technologies that will be harnessed are:

  1. artificial intelligence, machine learning and data analytics
  2. additive manufacturing
  3. robotics and automation
  4. virtual reality and augmented reality
  5. the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and connectivity (5G, LPWAN etc.).

We will deliver these innovation themes through collaborative R&D opportunities, Research centres, Technology Accelerators, Test Beds, Demonstrators and Networks.

The challenge plans to build the ecosystem through large scale collaborative programmes. This will include fundamental research work with Manufacturing Small and Medium sized Enterprises (SMEs) and Large Enterprises, Technology Developer SMEs and Large Enterprises, Universities and Research and Technology Organisations.

Made Smarter UK

Made Smarter is a national movement to drive growth amongst UK makers and advance the UK economy. Backed by world-renowned businesses and the UK government, it will improve the development and adoption of emerging technologies. Making a real, everyday difference to people from the boardroom to the factory floor.

Made Smarter was formed following a nationwide review into UK manufacturing that recommended three key changes: More ambitious leadership. More innovation in developing new technologies. And faster implementation and adoption of those technologies.

We’ll be boosting the digital skills of industry leaders, bringing businesses and research development together to develop new technology, and helping makers embrace new digital tools. In doing so, we’ll inspire the next industrial revolution and make the UK a leader in digital technologies.

For more information, read the Made Smarter review.