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AFRC Siemens

Smart factories across Scotland

Header image: AFRC chairman, Prof. Keith Ridgway, and Siemens Digital Factory managing director, Brian Holliday.

The University of Strathclyde’s Advanced Forming Research Centre (AFRC) has agreed a Tier One Partnership with global technology giant, Siemens, aiming at stimulating the uptake of digital technologies within the manufacturing industry and supporting the factories of the future across Scotland. 

Combining advanced manufacturing and digital expertise, the two organisations will work together to increase the adoption of industry 4.0 within the UK supply chain, encouraging firms of all sizes to embrace digital manufacturing to boost efficiency and productivity. 

Smart factories are highly digitalised and connected production facilities that use a constant stream of data to adapt to new demands. This brings enormous opportunity for improvement across all stages of manufacture, along with back office and supply chain management. 

Siemens will provide the research centre, located next to Glasgow Airport, with support in kind to the value of £200k per year. It will supply software and hardware, in addition to consultancy and access to research, unlocking smart usage of data to improve manufacturing processes. It will also collaborate with the AFRC’s digital manufacturing team, sharing expertise and acting as a testbed for de-risking innovation as firms seek to adopt new technologies.

Siemens technology is already in use across the AFRC’s collaborative research and development projects, including the creation of a digital twin for the whisky cask filling process and a platform offering an Industry 4.0-based solution for machinery.

Both Siemens and the AFRC are also collaborating with AFRC Tier One Partner, Virtalis. Together, they are engaging with firms across Scotland and using a Virtual Reality environment to help firms enhance their decision-making and plan for the future using digital technology. 

Michael Ward, Technical Director, AFRC, said: “As our digital activities have grown, we’ve continued to expand our use of the extensive suite of Siemens software and we are extremely excited about the new capabilities that this partnership will open up.

“As the manufacturing sector shifts towards a more data-led approach, it’s crucial that we are working with industry and supporting companies to use digital technology on shop floors to enhance the factories of the future.”

Alan Norbury, Chief Technologist at Siemens, added: “The early stages of adopting Industry 4.0 technology are often where companies hit hurdles. Working in partnership with the AFRC, we’re aiming to help customers accelerate investment cycles with enhanced access to skills, technology, processes and research that will reduce risks associated with investment in smart factories. 

“As the partnership evolves, we’re keen to share best practice across sectors, engage with small-to- medium sized businesses to develop fully connected supply chains, and further invest in software, hardware and training to create a strong infrastructure that will maximise benefits of the technology to accelerate digital manufacturing.”

Employing around 170 staff and working with over 350 manufacturing businesses, the University of Strathclyde’s Advanced Forming Research Centre (AFRC) is a globally recognised centre of excellence in innovative manufacturing technologies R&D, and metal forming and forging research. Part of the UK Government’s High Value Manufacturing Catapult, it is the only centre of its kind in Scotland. See 

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