As hospitals rushed to make the necessary operational changes needed to accommodate patients in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic last year, a team of staff and students from the IfM was there to help.

Working with clinicians and senior healthcare managers to assess the immediate and emerging operational challenges facing local hospitals, they identified where these could be addressed through the application of engineering capabilities and coordinated the rollout of solutions.

Three teams of students from the MPhil in Industrial Systems, Manufacture and Management (ISMM) course at the IfM were drafted in to bring their knowledge of industrial practices…

Reducing waste, creating value and securing investment. As we prepare to launch the Sustainability Association, a place for businesses to get the support they need to progress sustainability initiatives, Steve Evans and Ian Bamford cover a few of the main areas businesses need to focus on.

Read the full story at IfM Engage

The digital landscape can be a confusing place. Often, when thinking about how to integrate a new technology into a business, companies are unsure where to start. Do you begin by looking at what benefits a new technology can offer? Or from the business challenges where you need the most help? Does digital transformation mean changing the fundamentals of what you do?

Research at the Institute for Manufacturing into digital transformation has informed the development of tools and approaches that can help you navigate these questions successfully.

Read the full story at IfM Engage

As the UK prepares to launch a new high-risk, high-reward research agency, Eoin O’Sullivan, director of the IfM’s Centre for Science, Technology & Innovation Policy (CSTI), speaks to Jason Naselli about what it can learn from the ARPA model in the US and globally, and why technology and innovation management is the key to success.

Read the full story at Cambridge Industrial Innovation Policy

Welcome to Issue 12 of the IfM Review. I’m delighted to share with you some of the latest exciting work from across the Institute for Manufacturing, spanning our technology, management and policy activities.

Amongst the articles in this issue, we explore intriguing future uses of technology. Ronan Daly explains how embedded electronics can be used in architecture, Ajith Parlikad walks us through how 5G can make a difference in ports, and Michael de Volder shares early research on a new low-cost solar battery design. New technology also features in an article by Thomas Bohné, Benedikt Krieger and Andreas Archenti, exploring…

Technology, regulation and a culture of safety all have a role to play as part of a joined-up approach.

Image: Adobe Stock.

By Lili Jia

The growing prevalence of food allergies has moved to the top of the food safety agenda, with prominent news coverage raising awareness of this worsening problem.

In the UK, admissions to hospital for allergic reactions to food increased from 1.23 to 4.04 per 100,000 people per year between 1998 and 2018. Among them, the largest increase of hospital admissions was children under 15 years old, jumping from 2.1 to 9.2 per 100,000 population per year.

There is no…

As the importance of digital twins grows, most companies still have work to do to fully capitalise on their use.

Image: Adobe Stock

By Veronica Martinez, Francisco Gómez Medina, Annika Wollermann Umpierrez and Hansjoerg Fromm

Digital twins are increasingly regarded as key components of digital transformation, particularly in asset-intensive sectors such as aerospace. As ‘living’ models that mirror the properties and actions of a physical entity, they have the potential to unlock new and innovative value propositions that can help companies achieve sustainable competitive advantage.

But while recognition of their value is growing, no one has yet emerged as an industry leader.

As part of our research, we spoke with over 50 industry experts from 13 different commercial aerospace manufacturers to understand how…

Cost-effective, off-the-shelf technologies are helping manufacturing SMEs to transform into highly efficient, digitally enabled businesses. Elizabeth Tofaris explains more about the Digital Manufacturing on a Shoestring project.

Examples of Shoestring solution development: QR inventory tracking system; Legacy panel digitalisation; Augmented status viewer. Image: Institute for Manufacturing

In a programme involving more than 200 companies from across the UK and overseas, the EPSRC-funded Digital Manufacturing on a Shoestring project based at the Institute for Manufacturing, in collaboration with the University of Nottingham, has begun to deliver a toolbox of solutions that can be readily adopted by small and medium-sized manufacturers, using off-the-shelf, affordable technologies.

The innovative project, which involves a range of small manufacturers, technology partners including the Raspberry Pi Foundation and Siemens together with manufacturing networks such as the Scottish Manufacturing Advisory Service (SMAS) and Make UK, exploits low-cost, commercially available technologies in mobile computing, sensors…

Michael De Volder tells us how a Friday afternoon experiment led to research on a new low-cost battery design that can be charged directly by light without a separate solar cell or power converter.

A portable solar panel and charger lies on a beach. A new battery design from the IfM could eliminate the need for a separate solar cell and power converter. Image: Adobe Stock.

How does what you’re working on differ from conventional batteries?

For most of us, recharging a battery is easy. When a battery is flat, you plug it into a charger and after an hour or so you are good to go. But in a remote area, without access to mains electricity, this becomes much more complicated.

You can of course use solar power to charge batteries in off-grid locations, but this always requires a separate solar cell and a power converter, in addition to the battery, which makes solar charging systems more expensive and less robust.

Interaction between robots and humans will become an important feature of the industrial workplace of the future. But what sort of impact will this have on society — and what will that mean for how the technology evolves? The IfM’s Cyber-Human Lab takes a look.

Illustration by Amy Reinecke/Institute for Manufacturing

By Thomas Bohné, Benedikt Krieger and Andreas Archenti

One aspect of the development of robotic technology in industry appears clear: humans and robots will increasingly interact to accomplish tasks.

Research on how they will interact points more and more to a relationship of collaboration, with humans and robots pursuing shared goals alongside one another, rather than humans always driving the task forward.

But will such human-robot teams be harmonious, or will this industrial development lead to social and economic tensions as the growing prevalence of robots is perceived as a threat?

At the Cyber-Human Lab at the IfM, we looked…

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