Helping to demystify industrial
digitalisation in UK manufacturing

Keeping competitive with food automation

24 February, 2021

With an overall turnover of €1,109bn and more than 4.5mn people employed across the continent, the food and drink industry is undoubtedly one of the most economically important industries in Europe. Add to this the fact that there are 294,000 European companies active in the industry and it becomes plain to see why the ability to remain competitive is vital for food manufacturers. George Walker reports.

The importance of innovation & digital transformation in production engineering

19 February, 2021

It is vital in every industry to make the most of technology and innovation, and few more so than in engineering. Chris Joy outlines why digital transformation is important for smaller engineering firms.

The IIoT journey starts with remote telemetry

17 February, 2021

The first rule of supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) is that communications will fail. One challenge is rising volumes of data place increasing loads on both the main server and the communications networks connected to it. Craig Abbot explains why remote telemetry units (RTU) are vital for minimising congestion in intelligent power, utility, broadcast and transport applications.

Five key trends in smart warehousing for 2021 and beyond

26 January, 2021

2020 was a year like no other. So what are the implications for warehousing and fulfilment in 2021? Tim Wright looks to the future of the smart warehouse with five key trends.

Smart predictions: The connected technology that will transform 2021

19 January, 2021

Although we have bid a grateful farewell to 2020, the disruption and uncertainty we experienced are spilling over into 2021. If there is one thing that we learnt last year, however, it’s that we need to accelerate the pace of transformative change. Connected technology is of critical importance in this process, and is likely to be one of the key economic drivers going forward. Matthew Margetts reports.

Automated storage system helps manufacturer towards its smart factory vision

18 December, 2020

Stafford based Alpha Manufacturing has this year extended its investment in a TRUMPF 10 bay STOPA storage system to serve multiple machines at this sheet-metal fabricator's plant. The completion of the STOPA marks the culmination of Alpha's journey to automation and its 'smart factory' vision. Smart Machines & Factories reports.

AI and robotics: enabling cost-effective production

04 December, 2020

What can European automotive companies do to future-proof their production lines, especially in relation to battery manufacturing? Robotics, automated quality control and artificial intelligence (AI) can help companies to tackle the strong competition they are facing from Asia. Henry Claussnitzer reports.

Taking the step-by-step approach to Digital Twins

01 December, 2020

Gaining insights into the operating health and service status of plant and machinery is a priority for Industry 4.0. As foot soldiers posted on the front line of operations, sensors collect intelligence with the power to be transformative for operating efficiency. Smart Machines & Factories reports.

How similar can humans and robots be?

27 November, 2020

Chloe Reynolds explains how manufacturers can use AR to further bridge the gap between humans and robots in assembly and more.

Approaching quality in the digital era

26 October, 2020

British industry has a productivity problem. Compared with major competitors like the USA, Germany and France, its productivity lags. It isn’t because we’re not working hard enough ― studies have shown that British workers put in the longest hours in the EU. So, if we’re working longer, but are still less efficient, where are we going wrong? Mike John*, explores how the UK industry can start a quality revolution.

Moving forward through the manufacturing storm

20 October, 2020

Standing still isn’t an option for manufacturers in the UK. Neither is simply moving forward with a “business as usual” mindset. Researchers at the MIT CISR identified two drivers for successful digital transformation: an organisation’s experience maturity, and its operational efficiency. Smart Machines & Factories explains how the latest technology can reduce unnecessary production space to improve operations within the production line.

Putting the logic back into logistics

24 September, 2020

Robot-led automation can make a tremendous difference to the efficiency, accuracy and - not least - to the flexibility of logistics operations in all settings. With developments such as e-commerce and omnichannel distribution set to transform the way consumers purchase and receive their goods, Nigel Platt* explains why robotic automation offers an increasingly logical solution for logistics.

How similar can humans and robots be?

22 September, 2020

Augmented reality (AR)allows you to experience an enhanced version of reality. From computer games to manufacturing, this technology can help humans gain repeatable and reliable results just as a robot would. Chloe Reynolds* explains how manufacturers can use AR to further bridge the gap between humans and robots in assembly and more.

Bringing the edge and cloud together

25 August, 2020

Data is at the heart of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and Smart Manufacturing. By setting up suitable platforms to collect and analyse data, it is possible to gain in-depth, unique insights into manufacturing processes that can lead to their optimisation. The most effective setup combines edge and cloud-based platforms to get the best of both worlds. Chris Evans* looks at why the future of network infrastructure balances edge and cloud capabilities.

How to address the “new normal” of factory automation in food manufacturing

06 August, 2020

Food and beverage companies can now set the course for the time after the Covid-19 pandemic using automation to boost competitiveness and productivity. Manufacturers should focus their resources on four market driven perspectives: workforce, product quality, flexibility and sustainability. Smart Machines & Factories reports.

Inaugural Talking Industry digital broadcast tackles key manufacturing issues

29 July, 2020

Talking Industry, a series of digitally broadcast panel discussions, featuring leading experts from the automation and manufacturing industries, has been launched by DFA Media - the publisher of Plant & Works Engineering, Smart Machines and Factories, Drives & Controls and Hydraulics & Pneumatics magazines, took place on July 14th. Smart Machines & Factories takes a look at one of the key discussions during the inaugural event.

Warehouse optimisation – a timely approach to automation

20 July, 2020

Steve Richmond, director logistics systems at Jungheinrich explains that the key to successful automation is typically a staggered approach, instead of completely overhauling your current setup, it should be about deploying the right technology and processes in collaboration with the right people, at the right time.

COVID-19 – how business is adapting in the face of adversity

15 July, 2020

Alistair Binks* explains to Smart Machines & Factories how the COVID-19 pandemic has driven businesses to focus inwards, looking with a critical eye at their more “fragile” business areas, or those markets which they may have relied upon too heavily so far.

Adding value in the digital dimension: Sculpting with sensor data

13 July, 2020

Neil Sandhu, SICK UK product manager for Imaging, Measurement and Ranging, takes a look at why in a digitised world no sensor is an island, and that it must connect and interact with other devices and feed its data into software and digital services.

Digitisation pushes the boundaries of additive manufacturing

10 July, 2020

3D printing (additive manufacturing, or AM) has hit the headlines with its role in producing emergency ventilator parts and supplies of PPE. But is it a serious competitor to established mass manufacturing methods? Andy Pye looks at how the boundaries are being extended.

Manufacturing resilience during the coronavirus pandemic

05 June, 2020

How do you keep a factory running during the COVID-19 crisis? The main problem isn’t social distancing necessarily, but keeping workers motivated during the slowdown. That’s according to new research by money.co.uk, which spoke to 25 business leaders from the manufacturing industry to gain insights into how coronavirus has affected them.

How coronavirus is driving digital transformation and continuity planning

04 June, 2020


The current pandemic is forcing the manufacturing sector to re-evaluate traditional production processes. The combination of supply chain disruption, shortage of materials, dependence on globalised production, and a national workforce with restricted movements, is not only affecting the industry, but the wider economy. While many have struggled to adapt within the current environment, there are those taking this opportunity to transform.

Why are some engineers still wary of digitalisation?

28 April, 2020

The benefits of digitalising the manufacturing process are plentiful and obvious for many engineers who are open to new ways of working. Andreas Velling, mechanical engineer and head of marketing at Fractory reports.

Why are some engineers still wary of digitalisation?

28 April, 2020

The benefits of digitalising the manufacturing process are plentiful and obvious for many engineers who are open to new ways of working. Andreas Velling, mechanical engineer and head of marketing at Fractory reports.

UMATI– on its way to becoming the global language of production

30 April, 2020

The VDMA and VDW are joining forces to promote the use and dissemination of OPC UA standards throughout the mechanical engineering sector under the umati label.

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