In this week's column, Andrew Walker, from University of Wales
Trinity Saint David’s (UWTSD) Centre for Advanced Batch Manufacturing (CBM)
discusses the momentum gathering around the MADE project.
The MADE team is looking forward to welcoming leaders in Welsh manufacturing to the Optic Technology Centre, in St Asaph, in the coming months, to mark the roll-out of the MADE (Manufacture for Advanced Design Engineering) project to North Wales.
This suite of EU-funded projects, being delivered by the University of Wales Trinity Saint David’s (UWTSD) Centre for Advanced Batch Manufacture (CBM), is already gathering keen interest and momentum among manufacturers in South Wales, after its launch there in April. The ambitious programme is designed to collaborate with SMEs within industry to future-proof their operations, by upskilling and by adopting advanced manufacturing technologies. Since our South Wales launch we have hosted and attended a number of lively industry and business events, attended by key manufacturers including Calsonic and Wall Colmonoy.
It has been notable at all of these events that savvy manufacturers are already embracing innovations and future thinking in a very tangible way. Manufacturers are very much attuned to the need to keep modernising and refreshing their processes, in order to streamline and refine their operations. However, there is a real appetite for further insight, training and the tools needed for the adoption of the next generation of disruptive technologies that are going to propel Welsh manufacturing to the next stage of its evolution. And it is clear that there is a need for a very practical, structured and finely tuned roadmap to help manufacturers make the changes they need to make and, crucially, to help them take their whole workforce with them on this journey.
Of course, this process is further complicated by the fact that every manufacturing business, at every stage of the complex supply chains we see here in Wales, have their own unique DNA, so their needs are all very different.
The MADE programme has been carefully-tailored to meet these challenges.
The Advanced Design Engineering (ADE) aspect of MADE is available to qualifying businesses at no cost to them, and this project is supported by the Welsh Government and the European Regional Development Fund.
It sees a member of the ADE team work with businesses to analyse and understand their current business processes and to identify and map where innovative advanced technologies could usefully be introduced. Once the proposed collaborative project plan has been agreed, a pilot research project will test these technologies for viability within the business. This process might include making targeted improvements to established business process, or to existing products. Or, perhaps, identifying new processes and products, using new technologies. The final phase is aimed at delivering sustained adoption of the new technology, to bring about meaningful, sustainable change.
The Upskilling for Industry 4.0: Wales aspect of MADE offers bespoke training, leading to a University award and, again, based upon the manufacturing employer’s needs. This programme has been supported by the European Social Fund through the Welsh Government. Combining distance learning and face to face sessions, I4.0:Wales will equip team members with skills to help shape the response to I4:0 within individual companies and to manage their own career opportunities.
The courses are designed for Welsh employees to support their engagement with the rapid technological change which helps drive business growth. Participating organisations can select from a range of Postgraduate modules, all designed to provide enhanced technological know-how, with robust assessments delivering tangible business and economic benefits. Using an innovative Virtual Classroom concept, employees can access learning both live and online, irrespective of location. Programmes are delivered in bite-size sessions, so, study can be easily scheduled around other commitments.
Academic staff will work with manufacturers to understand their aspirations and to define learning objectives which match with those of the organisation. Generous funding for this aspect of the training is available depending on the size of the business. Taking this learning a step further, the International Innovation Masters (IIM) aspect of MADE will offer advanced level learning, leading to a University Masters, delivered both remotely, via the Virtual Classroom and face-to-face. This project has also been supported by the European Social Fund through the Welsh Government.
What should I do next?
More About Andrew Walker
Andrew is the Director of Business Engagement and European Projects at University of Wales Trinity Saint David.
Andrew is an experienced, self-motivated commercial professional with an extensive knowledge of Welsh Business and Higher Education who specialises in stakeholder engagement, business development, communications and fundraising with a proven ability in attaining results.
Andrew holds Senior Board level and Governance experience over many years in a diverse range of Charitable Trusts and representative bodies with an emphasis placed on mutual respect and accountability.