Manufacturing companies are increasingly faced with hitting net-zero and energy efficiency objectives as well as boosting business outcomes in their places of work, and to provide an offering in which data plays a crucial role, the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) North West is showcasing an internet of things (IoT) deployment.
The showcase is based in Samlesbury, Preston and has the principal the aim of creating a working showroom based on a suite of digital technologies so manufacturers of all sizes can understand how digital technologies can support net-zero and energy efficiency objectives.
The AMRC is a research organisation with a cluster of innovation and research centres across the UK, working with more than 120 industrial partners including Boeing, Rolls-Royce, BAE Systems and Airbus. Vodafone is supporting AMRC North West at the £20m purpose-built research facility that opened in 2022, by providing some of the latest technology available to industry.
The Low Carbon Smart Building demonstrator will be accessible to businesses of all sizes, featuring technology from different suppliers. The range of services available will showcase a variety of use cases, catering for the full spectrum of manufacturers – from SME to multi-national – as well as a range of different objectives, from increased productivity, greater automation, improved energy efficiency, health and safety, and decarbonisation.
The project focuses on two areas: smart factory and smart building. The former centres on demonstrating how IoT and digital technologies can drive greater efficiency and additional value across the factory workshop through automation, using services such as environmental monitoring – including the detection of hazardous gases – asset tracking and occupancy monitoring. The smart building showcase demonstrates how IoT technology can improve the sustainability and operational efficiency of an office environment, using offerings such as building usage analysis, data insights from a building management system, and asset usage and energy consumption to provide insight and automated action.
The 6,000 square metre research facility features several suppliers and technology partners, including Vodafone, which is helping to deploy more than 20 different IoT technologies, as well as its IoT.nxt management platform. This is designed to offer the capability to integrate old and new devices in one system, allowing companies to collect, visualise and manage all digital activities from a single, centralised platform, while also including features to enable a company to benefit from automation and artificial intelligence (AI) tools.
“To know where the opportunities are within your facility, it is important to have a clear understanding of how it operates and what it consumes,” said Iain Martin, head of the Low Carbon Smart Building Demonstrator at AMRC North West. “Using IoT.nxt makes this information accessible and user-friendly, improving the user’s ability to enhance their efficiency and drive down their carbon footprint.”
Vodafone said the manufacturing industry is critical to the success of the UK, and digitisation of this sector is paramount for its continued success. It added that digital technologies, such as 5G, IoT, AI and machine learning, can help our customers reduce their carbon footprints, citing research showing such technologies could help the UK reduce its carbon emissions by 4% a year, particularly in the agriculture, manufacturing and transport sectors.
“This project brings to life Vodafone’s belief that innovation occurs at the intersection of different technology ecosystems, each acting as a catalyst on the others,” said Nick Gliddon, business director at Vodafone UK. “With the AMRC, we are blending together mobile, cloud and IoT technologies to form a comprehensive digital platform with sustainability, efficiency and innovation at the core.”