University of Sunderland undertakes ‘groundbreaking’ Industry 4.0 research

Research to benefit the engineering and manufacturing industries include energy consumption and the benefits of VR and AR

Researchers at the University of Sunderland are undertaking ‘groundbreaking’ research to improve the critical role of maintenance in the engineering and manufacturing sectors, the results of which may boost productivity and efficiency.

The University of Sunderland team is at the forefront of the latest practices and technologies in Industry 4.0, embedding technology within society, through the UK manufacturing sector. The team of researchers, which includes academic staff and students, international academics, and industry experts, is helping businesses develop their product, processes and technology in order to become more productive and sustainable.

Research areas include improving energy consumption in the automotive industry, design for maintenance, use of sensors to predict manufacturing issues, and the benefits of using VR and AR technology.

Associate Professor in the school of engineering, David Baglee, said: “Maintenance is a huge area of research for us; it’s no longer seen as the use of a hammer and spanner to fix something. We are talking about the development of new information and communications technologies, which are triggering a revolution in manufacturing, and this is set to continue. The individual work of our academics and researchers are at the leading edge of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, through their advancements in technology.”

We are talking about the development of new information and communications technologies, which are triggering a revolution in manufacturing, and this is set to continue.
–David Baglee, University of Sunderland

“Never before have we had such a large number of researchers dedicated to one area. This will no doubt help improve speed, efficiently and accuracy in UK manufacturing, which in turn will develop a highly skilled, technologically advanced, world-leading workforce for next year and beyond.”

Each project at Sunderland is supported by major industry names such as Bosch, FaureciaTechnip and Grindrite, who offer their own specialised knowledge to feed into the university’s academic programmes, as well as industry networking forums.

Researcher Dr Salla Marttonen-Arola began her two year post-doctoral research project at Sunderland in 2017, looking at transforming the way businesses operate and boost productivity, simply by examining their untapped data.

Her project, titled LeaD4Value, is building data decision-support tools based on careful modelling and statistical analyses. Results include a map of ways to exploit the data, a process model, and a performance measurement system for optimising the life of assets in supply chains.

Dr Marttonen-Arola explained: “The tools can reveal missing or obsolete data, unnecessary data collection and maintenance, and ways to refine and optimise business value through better data maintenance.”

“Using these could keep manufacturing chains productive and help industry to remain competitive. It’s getting rid of things which just don’t work or cost money. The process is not about criticising, just improving.

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