By Sarah Douglas
The Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) has transformed the way we work.
It’s brought with it products that are increasingly personalised and intelligent, which require a combined approach to design and manufacture, through the use of advanced manufacturing techniques.
To support manufacturers in this new era, Autodesk has opened an Advanced Manufacturing Facility (AMF) in the UK’s second largest city, Birmingham.
The first of its kind in Europe, it houses advanced manufacturing tools and is a space for Autodesk to collaborate with customers; helping them bring their visions to life, solve some of their biggest challenges and push the boundaries of fabrication techniques. The Birmingham AMF is one node in a network of six technology centres around the world that bring Autodesk together with our customers and partners to reimagine the relationships between software and hardware, machines and materials.
Autodesk’s President and CEO, Andrew Anagnost, said: “The convergence of automation technologies like robotics and machine learning is shaking up traditional manufacturing and building processes. Coupling these with cloud computing enables more people to access their power at much lower costs. While clearly a challenge to established practices, these technologies offer huge opportunities for existing manufacturers and builders to do more, do it better, and do it with less negative impact on the world. With today’s opening, we hope to fuel excitement and prepare businesses in all industries for the future of making things.”
Spearheading the future of making things
Autodesk has already invested millions in the Birmingham area, following the acquisition of Delcam in November of 2013 and, with it, a portfolio of leading-edge CAM solutions. Building on this capability, the new multi-million-pound facility has been kitted out with high-tech machines including those from from DMG Mori, Hermle, Steifelmeyer and Hamuel, as well as robots from ABB and KUKA Robotics.
From hybrid manufacturing to human-robotic collaboration, and clay milling, customers and partners, both large and small, can explore a range of techniques to see how they can benefit from the future of making things. In short, it’s the factory of the future made real now.
The tech centre also houses a lab to ensure data is at the heart of projects. Engineers will be able to view data collected from smart machines; better connecting design and manufacturing processes, so that decisions are more informed, and projects are delivered more efficiently. At the opening this week, visitors saw how Autodesk’s just-released cloud-based Fusion Production software can monitor, analyse and manage data produced from live fabrication process on mobile devices.
BMW and GKN Additive are just some of the companies that are working with Autodesk engineers at the Birmingham centre. With AD9100D certification, the team is also able to take on specialist aerospace projects too.
Investing in future engineers
As well as working with customers, the centre will be made available to the local education community, to highlight how manufacturing has been transformed by new technologies and inspire the next generation of engineers and product designers.
Through Autodesk’s work with the STEM Ambassador Network, members of the Birmingham team will also work with a range of academic institutions, including all local universities and research facilities, such as the MTC in Coventry. This will include involvement with specific projects and student competitions, such as World Skills, F1 in Schools and VEX Robotics. Additionally, the STEM ambassadors will be on hand to help teach students skills such as coding, offer mentorship for career opportunities, and judge events and competitions.
Championing British manufacturing
This launch is also part of Autodesk’s aim to help Britain reclaim its place as a global industrial powerhouse. It founded the Future of British Manufacturing Initiative (FOBMI) in 2016, alongside partners, to help the industry take a hands-on approach to 4IR. It also recently launched a new manufacturing manifesto – Enabling the Art of the Impossible: How Britain can lead the 4th Industrial Revolution – which outlines steps to provide more support for Britain’s smaller manufacturers.
More details can be found here: https://www.autodesk.co.uk/futureofbritishmanufacturing