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The positive impact of faster innovation and adoption of Industrial Digital Technologies (IDTs) could be as much as £455 billion for UK manufacturing over the next decade, increasing manufacturing sector growth between 1.5 and 3 percent per annum, creating a conservative estimated net gain of 175,000 jobs throughout the economy. Made Smarter UK review

The Made Smarter Innovation Network endeavours to support this future success. Our ambition is to help UK manufacturing be more productive, competitive and sustainable – specifically via a powerful ecosystem of innovative IDT providers being developed across a variety of leading-edge technologies.

These IDTs are instrumental to the future success of the UK manufacturing sector and form the backbone of the Government’s plans to revamp the sector.           

  • Additive Manufacturing is extensively used in many industrial manufacturing processes and applications.
  • Blockchain can enable manufacturers to exchange data more easily, accurately and securely within complex supply chains
  • Data Analytics, Artificial intelligence and Machine learning technologies have a wide range of applications within manufacturing, including machine maintenance and improved accuracy in demand forecasting.
  • Immersive Technologies such as VR and AR can be applied in various scenarios in manufacturing, such as providing remote expert support, validating manufacturing processes and prototyping manufacturing processes.
  • Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and connectivity integrates and gathers data from connected devices, such as manufacturing equipment and tools, and sensors, enabling faster decision making for industrial companies.
  • Robotics and Automation is now the core technology for developing smart and flexible manufacturing capabilities in smart manufacturing.
  • Sensors can be used in manufacturing processes to gather real-time data to detect defects, monitor machinery and the manufacturing process itself as well as to enable traceability on the shopfloor.
Additive Manufacturing (AM)
  • Additive Manufacturing (AM) summary

    Additive manufacturing (AM) has gained wide applications in many industrial manufacturing processes. Different from the traditional machining processes, additive manufacturing builds up components in a layer-by-layer fashion. Additive manufacturing enables more complex design innovation, shorter time to market and lower tooling cost. Moreover, parts that are designed for additive manufacturing are both lighter and less costly compared to parts manufactured by traditional manufacturing methods.


  • Who is it for?

    AM is a method of making production parts and products directly from design data, building accurate components by adding layers of material to obtain the final shape with minimal waste and no expensive dedicated tooling. It permits radical product re-design and creates new material properties. Currently it is most applicable for those companies looking to produce relatively small numbers of bespoke complex parts, however recent developments in cost reduction per part means that the technology can now benefit an increasingly large market share.

    For further information, please visit Additive Manufacturing UK.

    For the UK National Strategy for AM, sectors and current opportunities for the UK in AM please click here.

  • How does it work?

    Additive manufacturing (AM) is the industrial application of 3D printing, the layer-by-layer construction of a part from a 3D model created using computer-aided design software. It is the collective name for a group of technologies that use a variety of feedstocks, power sources and build techniques.

    Watch a short introductory video looking at the opportunities for both plastic and metal components here

  • What are the benefits?

    There are various similar listings of the main benefits of Additive Manufacturing. An example is:

    • Affordable
    • Reduces Waste
    • Design Freedom
    • Customisation
    • Assisting with Prototyping
    • Lower Energy Costs
    • Quicker to Market

    Further details on each of these can be found here.

  • Get involved

    There are various groups and organisations that can help you on your journey to the successful implementation of AM.

    The National Centre for AM is based at the Manufacturing Technology Centre and includes a free access knowledge hub.

    If you'd like a more informal way to look for help, try the UK Additive Manufacturing at KTN LinkedIn group.

    Or if you know your problem but need an organisation to help, try the Made Smarter Directory or the AM UK directory.

    Finally, it may be good to see a variety of machines live. Opportunities for this in 2022 include Mach 2022 (where Made Smarter will also be exhibiting!) and TCT 3Sixty, both in the UK and FormNext in Germany.

Robotics & Automation
  • Robotics & Automation Summary

    Robotics represents an interdisciplinary domain between computer science and engineering, and its practicability can be used across multiple sectors. Robotics generally involves the stages of design, construction, operation and use of robots, so that these machines can assist humans in various tasks. Automation is a complementary process to the use of robotics, as it allows the use of specific software or AI tools for programming commands and giving automatic control to the robot/machine over the execution of numerous instructions. Robotics & Automation allows operations without human intervention, whilst creating a fully autonomous system.

  • Who is it for?

    Robotics & Automation is a method of transforming manufacturing processes, production lines, supply chains and so much more into safer working environments, boost efficiency and productivity and upskill the workforce by creating new jobs across Digital Technologies domain.

    Robotics & Automation works across multiple sectors and can be for anyone looking to automate or digitalise their work / process. The UK Robotics and AI Landscape is quite vast and cross-sectors with numerous capabilities and specific technologies.

    Innovate UK KTN have started scoping out some of the RAI Landscape and created an easy to navigate map. 

  • How does it work?

    Robotics & Automation are a collection of computer aided software, power electronics, machines & drives, and robotics & mechatronics.

    Digital Technologies are used to collect and process data, through various methods such as AI Tools that can be programmed to monitor production lines; Machine Learning Systems that are a subset of AI and can be automated to continuously learn and improve processes without human intervention; and Digital Twins which can simulate a virtual environment of an object or system and run computational simulations within a controlled digital environment with reduced risks, time, cost and efforts. Overall improving efficiency and productivity of the business.

  • What are the benefits?

    Some of the benefits include:
    ● Cost reductions - affordability
    ● Reduced lag time to market
    ● Productivity & Efficiency
    ● Health & Safety

    Use the landscape to gain insight into the wide range of UK innovators developing these technologies, find potential suppliers and collaborators and have the chance to showcase your work.

  • Get Involved

    If you want to join the Manufacturing, Robotics & AI landscape:
    - Sign up here for Made Smarter Innovation Network
    - Register here for the RAI Landscape Map

  • Sensors Summary

    Sensors are devices that can detect and respond to some types of inputs from the physical environment. These inputs can vary from: light, heat, motion, temperature, pressure, signal, radiation, force or several other physical or environmental attributes.

    All sensors are classified into two types: analog or digital. Sensors such as: temperature sensors, infra-red (IR) sensors, ultrasonic sensors, pressure sensors, proximity sensors, and touch sensors are very frequently used in electronics applications.

  • Who is it for?

    All manufacturers that want to adopt smart sensors within their factory floor, to increase productivity, efficiency, reliability and profit.

  • How does it work?

    Sensors can be used in numerous situations, for various applications, including in manufacturing. With the push towards Digital Technologies, sensors will play a large role within manufacturing processes to help gather real-time data, to detect defects, to monitor machinery and together with AI software to help enable traceability on the shopfloor.

    Depending on the applicability and capability of the sensors, these can be classified mainly as:

    ● Positioning sensors (e.g., autonomous systems)
    ● Pressure sensors (e.g., aircrafts)
    ● Temperature sensors (e.g., shopfloor, testing chambers)
    ● Force sensors (e.g., non-destructive testing)
    ● Vibration sensors
    ● Strain gauges
    ● Photo optic sensors
    ● Fluid property sensors
    ● Piezo sensors
    ● Humidity sensors
    ● Flow and level switches

    A further breakdown of the categories shows they can be:

    ➔ Contacting
    ➔ Non-contacting
    ➔ Rotary
    ➔ Linear

    Non-contacting sensors being mainly characterised by:

    ● Capacitive
    ● Ultrasonic
    ● Laser
    ● Proximity
    ● Hall effect
    ● Eddy current

  • What are the benefits?

    The use of smart sensors within manufacturing processes on the factory floor has proven to have several advantages, some of the benefits are highlighted below:

    • Sensors can monitor, control and improve operations with data-backed insights. Smart sensors connect the devices to the systems, enabling cross-machine digital communication which allows you to monitor the performance of the equipment and systems, collate all generated data and compare & analyse the data sets.

    • Sensors can help predict equipment failure which can set up the systems to follow a pre-programmed maintenance protocol. Saving maintenance costs and time, but also making sure to reduce business downtime and avoid failures or accidents.

    • Through the use of sensors, you can programme the machine/system to automatically log the data within an internal database or via the cloud for storage. You can easily pull the data online and improve the efficiency and accuracy of the outputs.

    • Sensors, as mentioned above, can send notifications if an anomaly is threatening the process or the quality of the outputs, and alert of possible safe issues. This allows manufacturers to be more proactive in resolving the issues, leading once again to less business downtime.

    • Sensors feed the data into digital systems, and these systems can help increase the speed of information sharing and be more responsive to the market conditions. This will allow manufacturers to adopt more agile methodologies, whilst increasing production outputs and profits.

    • Sensors help increase the reliability and integrity of the processes, whilst also making it easy to verify and validate the systems.
  • Get Involved

    You can view Innovate UK KTN’s Sensors Landscape Map here.

  • Blockchain Summary

    Blockchain is a system of recording information in a way that makes it difficult or impossible to change, hack, or edit in a system related way.

    A blockchain is essentially a digital ledger of transactions that is duplicated and distributed across the entire network of computer systems on the blockchain.

    There are different types of blockchains, each with their own features and unique use cases.

    Blockchain is a type of DLT in which transactions are recorded with an immutable cryptographic signature called a hash.

    A hash is a way of passing data through a formula that produces a result.

  • Who is it for?

    From a manufacturing perspective, blockchain can be used with manufacturing intent from sourcing raw materials and delivering the finished product.

    Blockchain can increase transparency and trust at every stage of the industrial value chain. Points along the supply chain that blockchain could help address include:

    • Supply-chain monitoring for greater transparency
    • Materials provenance and counterfeit detection
    • Engineering design for long-duration, high-complexity products
    • Identity management
    • Asset tracking
    • Quality assurance
    • Regulatory compliance

    Blockchain-powered solutions can seamlessly aggregate all of this information, delivering significant value for industrial companies, and can also help unlock the full potential of other advanced technologies like augmented reality, IoT and 3D printing providing a read across to other technologies.

  • How does it work?

    Blockchain, which is essentially a distributed ledger of transactions—rather than being kept in a single, centralised location, is held by all the users in a network.

    In general, all these users, also known as network nodes, have copies of the same ledger.

    Transactions on a blockchain don’t have to be financial—they simply represent a change in state for whichever data point the blockchain’s stakeholders want to track.

    Blockchains are driven by consensus. When a user initiates a transaction, its details are broadcast to the entire network, checked by other users and accepted if there is consensus, the consensus mechanism.

    Once a transaction has been validated, it is bundled with other transactions into a block of data. Each block is secured via a cryptographic algorithm.This results in a unique signature for each block known as a hash.

    These blocks are then ordered sequentially into a chain of blocks, with each block also containing the previous block’s hash, hence the term blockchain.

    This makes it extremely difficult to tamper with a block, as altering a single piece of data would result in a different hash value, making it evident to the blockchain’s users and causing the transaction to be rejected.

    Some parts of this process can be done automatically with smart contracts. The smart contracts are sections of code which auto execute according to a predetermined or preset set of instructions.

    These involve two entities turning a business contract into code that recognizes actions on the blockchain. For example, a smart contract might recognize that a sale of an asset by “Company A” to “Company B” on a certain date should be for a specific price.

    This simplifies processes that take significant time to check. This structure gives network participants confidence in their transaction without the need to trust each other. Nor do they need to agree on a trusted third party to make sure they’re both following the rules.

    Because the ledger of transactions is consensus-based and distributed, records stored in it cannot be erased or changed.

  • What are the benefits?

    The benefits of using blockchain include:

    • Supply-chain monitoring for greater transparency into complex, cross-constituency supply chains where delays and sourcing constraints impact production and profitability

    • Materials provenance and counterfeit detection to reduce the $4.2 trillion impact of counterfeiting and piracy on the global economy by 2022, as cited by World Trademark Review

    • Engineering design for long-duration, high-complexity products, for which delays in sharing updated engineering specifications or parts supersessions can increase rework and delay final delivery (e.g., aircraft)

    • Identity management for when it is important to know who is taking an action and what their credentials are, including attorneys, auditors, engineers and technicians

    • Asset tracking to monitor complex and expensive equipment movements or intermodal logistics across carriers

    • Quality assurance that can look across a production life cycle to gauge qualifications, quality, patterns of defects, etc.

    • Regulatory compliance enhanced by indelible records of actions taken, assets’ movements evidenced by permissioned consensus — available in a short period of time.

    Blockchain-powered solutions can seamlessly aggregate all of this information, delivering significant value for industrial companies, and can also help unlock the full potential of other advanced technologies like augmented reality, IoT and 3D printing.

  • Get Involved

    While nothing currently exists under Innovate UK KTN’s Blockchain Landscape Map at the moment, there is every intention to include this as part of the digital / emerging economy reporting area and Digital & Creative Services, with alignment where applicable to AI for Services.

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