Businesses with creative ideas to boost the UK’s manufacturing capabilities, including using robotics, AI and augmented reality, are set to receive £300m of joint government and industry funding, Business Secretary Alok Sharma confirmed at London Tech Week today (11 September 2020).
AMO is behind one winning project – the Digital Designer Robot – aiming to offer machine-to-person ‘digital assistance.’ When a business needs a bespoke product, it will be able to use a digital robot to help design it and upload the design quickly onto a supplier’s website – so the product can then be sampled, prototyped and manufactured by the supplier.
The virtual assistant would also offer expert advice and guidance, by ‘conversing’ with businesses to ask questions, listen to feedback, and provide suggestions. This could reduce the time it takes to manufacture products, as well as cut costs and waste thanks to a more precise design process.
Business Secretary Alok Sharma said:
Increasing productivity is vital for any business, and having the right new technologies in place can help manufacturers make better products to compete and thrive.
By helping manufacturers to reduce costs, cut waste, and slash the time it takes to develop their products, this multi-million pound uplift will help fire up the cylinders of productivity as we build back better from the pandemic.
Rich Ingram, Director of funding recipient Account Management Online Ltd, said:
Moving beyond ready-made products available from online stores, AMO’s Digital Designer Robot provides the opportunity to define made-to-order products and get a price in real time including bought in tooling, sub-assemblies and parts.
We are excited how this capability delivers benefits in many industries where design requirements are unique, bringing faster, more available and resilient sales resource to customers to help them buy. Automation cutting costs and creating competitive advantage by immediate service response.
Discontinuous innovation generates high rewards for taking high risks: we are proud to be working in partnership with Government helping us manage risks and supporting our R&D in this ground-breaking area to help us turn our ambitious ideas into real world solutions for selling to the benefit of UK PLC.
Chris Courtney, challenge director for Made Smarter at UK Research and Innovation, said:
Digital technologies have the power to radically transform how we manufacture and deliver the products and services of today and the future and I am delighted that we have managed to secure the funding for this vital programme. Our ambition is to support the UK to become a leader in the manufacturing industry and the development of the next generation of technology solutions that will shape how the world works.
The current COVID challenges all sectors are facing only underline the vital importance of manufacturing in the UK across all sectors. There are enormous opportunities to innovate in this area, we have world leading industries, a powerful scientific and research community, a vibrant technology sector and I’m excited to see how this powerful coalition transforms the future of manufacturing.
Read the full government announcement here.