A virtual factory demonstrator enables researchers to test and fine-tune manufacturing processes without having to actually build any equipment

Virtual reality factory demonstrator launched in Coventry

A 3D virtual reality demonstrator designed to make designing new manufacturing processes easier has been launched at the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) in Coventry.

The digital factory demonstrator, also known as the Industry 4.0 demonstrator, is the first of its kind in the UK and seeks to put Britain at centre stage of global research and development in manufacturing.

The immersive, 3D virtual reality environment allows users to interact with a ‘living lab’ which has been modelled from an existing real-world machine. The machine mimics a continuous production environment and allows universities, manufacturers and other stakeholders to innovate production processes using the latest technologies that help improve productivity, quality and energy efficiency.

“We are proud to be at the centre of the UK’s first digital factory demonstrator and it is absolutely vital that industry and government partner together to build on the Foresight report which set out a road map for the future of manufacturing,” said Clive Hickman, CEO of the MTC.

“In order for that to happen we must invest in technology and encourage its uptake throughout the supply chain. By doing this we can be at the forefront of the ‘great technology race’ – which in turn will result in greater inward investment for UK PLC.”

The project was partially funded by Siemens, who seeks to establish a full living laboratory at the MTC to link smart sensor technology to intelligent automation and supply chain systems.

“By investing in these technologies, UK factories stand to achieve up to 30 per cent improvement in productivity, which could in turn aid accelerated economic rebalancing,” said Brian Holliday, managing director of Siemens’ Industrial activities in the UK and Ireland.

“We are calling for the establishment of a living lab in the UK and believe this will have a tangible impact on job creation – specifically addressing the UK skills shortage, as well as improving manufacturing’s share of UK GDP. We jointly support the proposals made today that industry and the government match fund £6m over a three-year period as part of a specific push to co-develop the world’s most advanced manufacturing technology standards here in Britain.”

The facility will allow researchers to test and develop robotic, sensor and virtual reality technology and provide a platform for companies to test and demonstrate their products to potential customers and conduct research simulations.

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