Helping to demystify industrial
digitalisation in UK manufacturing

Another apprentice graduates

17 July, 2019

Fairfields has announced that another apprentice has completed its apprenticeship programme. Billy Hanner has now moved into a permanent and full time design engineer position within the Projects Team at the Head Office.

Cyber-attacks on smart factories are on the rise

23 May, 2019

A series of major cyber-attacks on manufacturing enterprises has highlighted the extreme and growing risks that such attacks pose. Contributing editor Tony Sacks has been reading a new report that looks at how the interconnected nature of smart factories makes them particularly vulnerable – especially because many manufacturers still rely on outdated versions of Windows, which are no longer receiving security updates.

Busting digital myths

17 May, 2019

Running under the lead theme of "Industrial Intelligence", this year's Hannover Messe shone a spotlight on digital connectivity, particularly as it applies to connecting people and machines in an age of artificial intelligence.

Industry 4.0: The future is AI

07 May, 2019

Festo Member of the Management Board Dr Frank Melzer has taken over as head of the Industry 4.0 platform steering committee for the digitisation of business in Germany. Smart Machines & Factories’ Aaron Blutstein caught up with him in Holland to find out which direction Industry 4.0 is heading.

Floating a vision of levitating production systems

30 April, 2019

In tomorrow’s factories, workpieces will be transported flexibly between workstations on magnetically levitated carriers. This vision of the future was demonstrated at a recent German exhibition by two rival automation companies who believe that their technologies will help manufacturers to achieve “batch size one”. Contributing editor Tony Sacks reports.

Embrace digitalisation

14 March, 2019

The recent National Manufacturing Conference, organised by MAKE UK (the new name for the EEF, which was announced during the event) highlighted that the UK and the industrial sector face an unparalleled set of challenges and opportunities in the years ahead: Brexit, digitalisation, automation, artificial intelligence and the emergence of new markets. How well we deal with them will ultimately reflect our future success as a manufacturing nation.

Predictions for manufacturing: Industrial trends for 2019

06 March, 2019

Industry 4.0, the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) or the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) - regardless of the phrase used to describe digitalisation in manufacturing, there’s no denying that a shift has already taken place. But, is the age of industrial buzzwords coming to a grinding halt? Smart Machines & Factories spoke to Stefan Reuther, chief sales officer at COPA-DATA, who gives his three predictions for industrial automation in 2019.

Focus on the driving forces behind intelligent industry

04 January, 2019

Artificial intelligence and machine learning are continuing to grow in importance within Industry 4.0. With Industrial Intelligence as its lead theme, the 2019 Hannover Messe is putting this development centre stage. Smart Machines & Factories reports.

A welcome relief?

06 December, 2018

For manufacturers the publishing of the Government’s withdrawal agreement should in theory, come as some kind of welcome relief – but is it?

Are two arms better than one?

30 November, 2018

Giving a robot a second arm offers many potential attractions in terms of flexibility, load-carrying and performing complex operations. But practical applications of dual-arm robots have so far have been limited. Contributing editor Tony Sacks reports on some of the latest developments.

Grasping 4IR opportunities

30 October, 2018

The recent Smart Machines & Factories 4IR survey, supported by GAMBICA and EEF, and sponsored by Festo GB, highlights that some manufacturers are already grasping 4IR opportunities, but others are still to take their first steps on their journey.

4IR scepticism?

27 September, 2018

New digital technologies are rapidly transforming European manufacturing, and investment in 4IR technologies is vital to achieving a step change in UK manufacturing productivity given performance has flat-lined in the decade since the financial crisis.

Flexible movers could revamp production lines

03 July, 2018

There are now several competing technologies that promise to add flexibility to production lines by allowing items to be moved and processed individually, thus achieving the Holy Grail of “batch size one”. Contributing editor Tony Sacks reports on who is offering what.

Smart opportunities on show

20 June, 2018

The inaugural Smart Industry Expo took place alongside the established Drives & Controls Exhibition and co-located events, at Birmingham’s NEC last month. Smart Machines & Factories reviews a few of the highlights during the three-day event.

Time to get our productivity act together

31 May, 2018

Industry 4.0 and The Industrial Internet of Things (IIOT), presents huge opportunities for British manufacturing over the next decade, and the recent biennial co-location of events at the NEC in April, which included the inaugural Smart Industry Expo, left visitors in no doubt that the 'smartening' process of industry and manufacturing is going to change the face of global industry forever.

UK: A reluctance to invest in robots?

23 March, 2018

The latest figures for the global adoption of industrial robots show that, while most countries are increasing their use of these machines, the UK has stalled, falling below the global average for the first time. It is the only G7 nation in this position. Contributing editor Tony Sacks examines the numbers.

A ‘real world’ solution?

23 March, 2018

Jeremy Corbyn’s acceptance recently of the need for a post-Brexit customs union reflects what UK manufacturing have long called for. Stephen Phipson CEO of EEF says manufacturers have been vocal about the complexity of the supply chains between the EU and UK in which they operate, and that free and frictionless trade can only be achieved by comparable customs rules to those that the UK currently enjoys.

TSN: an idea whose time has come?

01 February, 2018

Growing numbers of automation suppliers are throwing their weight behind an open technology known as Time-Sensitive Networking (TSN), which guarantees deterministic real-time data transmission between products from different suppliers, and promises to cut networking costs. Contributing editor Tony Sacks reports on the latest developments from the SPS IPC Drives show in Germany.

2018: Challenges & opportunities

01 February, 2018

The New Year always brings challenges and opportunities, and for the UK, 2018 presents an abundance of both.

Teaching old robots new tricks

13 December, 2017

Two start-ups in the US are threatening to the shake up the robots market by turning conventional industrial robots into collaborative machines, and by my making it easy for anyone to program a robot, without needing to be an expert. Tony Sacks reports.

Are manufacturers ready for 4IR?

13 December, 2017

The Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR)is set to revolutionise industrial production - are manufacturers ready? Smart Machines & Factories reports.

Looking ahead to a ‘smart’ future!

13 December, 2017

Smart Machines & Factories spoke to Board members of the British Compressed Air Society (BCAS) to discuss Industry 4.0 and the smartening process within the compressed air industry.

Genuine commitment for change

13 December, 2017

The introduction of a new Industrial Strategy is key to supporting efforts to improve productivity and invest in not just current industries, but those of the future which are set to radically change the ways in which people live and work. However we need to get the strategy correct first, otherwise we’ll be travelling along a rather uneven path!

Robots continue their relentless rise

26 October, 2017

The global market for industrial robot systems is already worth more than $40bn, and could almost double again by 2020. As Tony Sacks reports, this growth is being driven by several factors including the emergence of new markets, such as SMEs, and the development of more flexible, easier-to-use technologies.

A unified vision

20 October, 2017

We can all breathe a sigh of relief, the political conference season is over and we can all regain some sense of reality and sanity again - well at least for a few weeks anyway! I’m not sure I can really add anything new to what has already been broadcast or written about but suffice to say I’m not sure anyone is any the wiser as to the direction we’re heading in, and this is becoming a growing concern for UK Industry.

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