A new project to help manufacturers slash emissions by retrofitting digital technologies onto their shopfloor has launched in Lancashire, with funding to support 120 SMEs over the next three years.
The £2.5 million Low Carbon Smart Building Demonstrator project, launched by the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) North West, has set out to create a roadmap for manufacturers of all sizes to cut the carbon footprint of older facilities.
Through the project, AMRC North West’s innovation centre near Preston, which opened in March 2022, will be transformed into a ‘living and breathing’ demonstrator equipped with a suite of smart factory technologies, including:
Building Management Systems (BMS) that integrate with machines
Occupancy and asset tracking to ensure shopfloor space is being best used
Manufacturing execution systems to improve productivity
Environmental sensors to understand how efficiency can be affected by changes in temperature
Digital work instructions using augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) headsets
Novel renewable energy sources and energy storage for manufacturing facilities.
Outlining the project and support on offer, Ben Smith, Low Carbon Building Specialist at AMRC North West, said:
“There is nothing like this available in the UK. I have yet to see a facility that has such a broad spectrum of digital technologies on display at one time and all of it being aligned to reducing a facility’s carbon footprint. It’s not about telling manufacturers to buy the latest equipment to reduce their emissions, but rather demonstrating how they can make their existing infrastructure greener and more efficient by retrofitting digital technologies.
“The first stage is educating manufacturers about why carbon footprint matters and why they need to care about sustainability. Then, we want to support them through lean manufacturing processes and principles; we recognise that a lot of smart factory technologies will be outside the reach of many companies, so we’re creating that profit margin by helping them embed lean methodologies.
“The final step is throwing open the doors to AMRC North West as an open-access demonstrator with a full range of smart factory technologies so we can showcase different solutions. The smart factory will give us an incredible amount of data to measure and analyse; that means we can make informed decisions on how to cut AMRC North West’s own carbon footprint and provide our customers with detailed recommendations for their specific use case.”
The project has funding to support 120 SMEs and 20 large companies across Lancashire over the next three years.
In Greater Manchester, SME manufacturers can receive fully funded support to cut their carbon emissions via our expert Manufacturing and Sustainability teams, as well through our popular online learning programme, Journey to Net Zero.