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Manufacturing in the Metaverse

Overview

The future of manufacturing will be underpinned by two elements: digital technologies and collaboration. The industrial metaverse is the epitome of these elements, using extended reality to blend the physical and digital worlds to transform how businesses design, manufacture, and interact with objects.

This report presents a coherent summary of established knowledge from academia and practice on the drivers, risks, enablers, and barriers of the industrial metaverse for manufacturing through a systematic literature review. These aspects are explored at three levels of granularity: the individual, the firm, and the manufacturing ecosystem.

As a result of this work, the InterAct funded team has also conceptualised a prototype for an industrial metaverse implementation using a case of cocoa manufacturing.

This research was conducted by Dr. Nikolai Kazantsev, Dr. Bethan Moncur, Russell Goh, Professor Chander Velu (IfM, University of Cambridge). This work was supported by the UKRI Made Smarter Innovation Challenge and the Economic and Social Research Council via InterAct [Grant Reference ES/W007231/1].

For further discussions or to propose potential applications/collaborations, please contact Nikolai Kazantsev.

Download “Report - Manufacturing in the Metaverse”

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Aligning economic policy for automotive sector resilience in the face of critical material dependency challenges

Overview

The automotive sector holds a distinctive and pivotal position within the UK economy. Beyond its substantial contributions to national outputs, employment, and value addition, the sector embodies a catalyst for future growth, aligning with the levelling up agenda and propelling the Net Zero transition.

In 2022, automotive-related manufacturing injected £78 billion turnover and contributed £16 billion in value added to the UK economy. The sector’s impact extends to the employment of over 208,000 individuals directly in automotive manufacturing and a total of 800,000 across the broader sector. Noteworthy within this context is the diversity epitomized by more than 25 manufacturing brands, collectively producing over 70 distinct vehicle models, complemented by the presence of specialized small-volume manufacturers.

This intricate ecosystem is further supported by approximately 2,500 supply chain businesses, housing some of the world’s most skilled engineers.

This paper offers a comprehensive analysis of the UK’s electric vehicle (EV) industry within the framework of economic policy and global value chains. It delves into the intricate dynamics involving supply chains, industrial policy, and critical dependencies.

The UK’s automotive sector confronts multifaceted challenges stemming from technological advancements, socioeconomic transformations, and geopolitical intricacies, necessitating the formulation of agile and responsive economic policies. The UK’s departure from the EU, as stipulated in the Trade and Cooperation Agreement, amplifies the complexities, particularly in navigating non-tariff measures and rules of origin that exert influence on EV exports. Within a landscape marked by heightened global competition characterized by escalating industrial policies on a global scale, the urgency of nimble responses becomes evident.

This research was conducted by Professor Jun Du Professor, Reader Luciano Battista and Dr. Oleksandr Shepotylo (Aston Business School). This work was supported by the UKRI Made Smarter Innovation Challenge and the Economic and Social Research Council via InterAct [Grant Reference ES/W007231/1].

For further discussions or potential applications/collaborations, please contact Jun Du.

Download “Report - Aligning economic policy for automotive sector resilience in the face of critical material dependency challenges”

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Perceptions of Manufacturing: How to make manufacturing charming again?

Overview

This report presents insights into how manufacturing is perceived, the factors shaping this perception, and how this perception has evolved in the last decade. The findings draw upon a systematic review of academic, grey and policy literature across seven countries: the United Kingdom (the UK), Canada, Germany, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland and the United States (the US).

The report is the main output of the InterAct-funded project “How to make manufacturing charming again? It is everything, everywhere, all at once”. The aim of the report is to support InterAct research on the future of manufacturing on an international scale by providing insights into attitudes to manufacturing and industrial strategies, and how manufacturing is discussed in other countries, particularly where digital technologies have been adopted.

This research was conducted by Dr. Guendalina Anzolin (IfM, University of Cambridge), Dr. Jennifer Castañeda–Navarrete (IfM, University of Cambridge) and Dr. Dalila Ribaudo (Aston University). This work was supported by the UKRI Made Smarter Innovation Challenge and the Economic and Social Research Council via InterAct [Grant Reference ES/W007231/1].

For further discussions or potential collaborations, please contact Jennifer Castañeda–Navarrete or Dalila Ribaudo.

Download “Report - UK and international perceptions of manufacturing”

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From supply chains towards manufacturing ecosystems: A system dynamics model

Overview

Rapid market changes call for demand-driven collaborations in manufacturing, which trigger supply chain evolution to more distributed supply structures.

This paper explores the system dynamics of the largest European aerospace manufacturer’s supply chain. The authors conceptualise a manufacturing ecosystem by observing the impacts of supplier development, digital platforms, smart contracting, and Industry 4.0 on demand-driven collaborations in time.

The research team offers further contributions to the literature on ecosystem strategy, particularly for regulated industries, by disclosing the role of demand-driven collaborations in supporting the ecosystems’ growth. This paper also provides manufacturing firms with an open-access tool to exemplify their ecosystem development and produce initial training datasets for AI/ML algorithms, supporting further analytics.

This research was conducted by Dr. Nikolai Kazantsev (IfM, University of Cambridge), Oleksii Petrovskyi (National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy), Professor Julian M. Müller (Seeburg Castle University, Austria and Erfurt University of Applied Sciences, Germany). This work was supported by the UKRI Made Smarter Innovation Challenge and the Economic and Social Research Council via InterAct [Grant Reference ES/W007231/1].

For further discussions or potential applications/collaborations, please contact Nikolai Kazantsev.

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.techfore.2023.122917

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Insights from history: a systematic review of historical industrial transitions

Overview

The transition to sustainability coincides with an industrial digitalization. While this latest industrial revolution creates new challenges, it also revives historical ones encountered in previous transitions. Through two parallel systematic reviews, challenges are identified for the current digitalization transition and historical transitions: mechanization, electrification and computerization.

The aim of this research is to identify lessons from history that may help overcome the challenges of industrial digitalization. The paper provides illustrative examples of social factors that are either internal to a technology adopting organization or external, related to wider societal change. These factors suggest actionable insights that may support the adoption of Industrial Digital Technologies. The following videos and report introduce the project in more detail and provide a full accounting of their findings.

This research was conducted by Dr. Ahmad Beltagui, Dr. Brian Sudlow (Aston University) Dr. Miying Yang, Glen Jonata (Cranfield University), and Qinglan Liu (Exeter University). This work was supported by the UKRI Made Smarter Innovation Challenge and the Economic and Social Research Council via InterAct [Grant Reference ES/W007231/1].

For further discussion or questions about this project, please contact Ahmad Beltagui.

Download “Report - Insights from history: a systematic review of historical industrial transitions”

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Advancing the business case for digital technology adoption in the UK manufacturing industry

Overview

Watch a short animated explainer about developing business cases for digitalisation

The competitiveness of industry in the UK is dependent on the rapidly growing digitalisation of manufacturers. Digitalisation provides the opportunity to drive the efficiency and innovativeness of manufacturers, and forms the basis for creating new business models. Yet, manufacturers are lagging in their investments into digitalisation and risk missing out on capturing the opportunities digitalisation offers. The below report, guide and video outline the specific challenges the manufacturing industry faces when making effective investments into digitalisation and identifies the key questions they should address to overcome them.

This research was conducted by Dr. Andreas Schroeder, Dr. Yang Zhao and Dr. Daniel Andrews (Aston University). This work was supported by the UKRI Made Smarter Innovation Challenge and the Economic and Social Research Council via InterAct [Grant Reference ES/W007231/1].

For further discussions or potential applications/collaborations, please contact Andreas Schroeder.

Download “Mini-guide - Making investments into digitalisation: the manufacturer’s perspective”

InterAct_BusinessCaseDigitalisation_MiniGuide_submitted.pdf – Downloaded 1935 times – 1.74 MB

Download “Report - Digital investment for manufacturers: a literature review of challenges and good practices”

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RESTRAIN: Socio-cultuRal bEhaviour of end-uSers To specific cybeR-threAts In maNufacturing

Overview

The manufacturing sector is a vital component of most economies, which leads to many cyberattacks on organisations, whereas disruption in operation may lead to significant economic consequences. Adversaries aim to disrupt the production processes of manufacturing companies, gain financial advantages, and steal intellectual property by getting unauthorised access to sensitive data.

Access to sensitive data helps organisations to enhance the production and management processes. However, majority of the existing data-sharing mechanisms are either susceptible to different cyber-attacks or heavy in terms of computation overhead.

This project worked with manufacturing industry representatives, digital technology providers and cyber-resilience centres across the country to develop ways to manage behavioural change to ensure cybersecurity improvements, whilst using psychological models to plan new ways to adapt to these changes.

Digital cyber security tool

Arising from the results of this research, the team has developed a free to use online cyber security tool which allows you to assess the cyber-security readiness of your organisation to understand what areas require your attention. This valuable tool offers manufacturers the chance to effectively examine their own cyber security preparedness and enable the safe implementation of new digital technology into their workplace.

Conference paper – Local Differential Privacy-Based Data-Sharing Scheme for Smart Utilities

In the team’s conference paper, a privacy-preserving data-sharing scheme for smart utilities is proposed. First, a customer’s privacy adjustment mechanism is proposed to make sure that end-users have control over their privacy, which is required by the latest government regulations, such as the General Data Protection Regulation.

Secondly, a local differential privacy-based mechanism is proposed to ensure privacy of the end-users by hiding real data based on the end-user preferences. The proposed scheme may be applied for different industrial control systems, whereas in this study, it is validated for energy utility use case consisting of smart intelligent devices. The results show that the proposed scheme may guarantee the required level of privacy with an expected relative error in utility.

Download “Report - Local differential privacy-based data-sharing scheme for smart utilities”

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This work was carried out by Dr. Bruno Bogaz Zarpelao (State University of Londrina, Brazil), Veniamin Boiarkin, Professor Muttukrishnan Rajarajan, Professor Rajkumar Roy and Professor Katy Tapper (City, University of London, United Kingdom). This work was supported by the UKRI Made Smarter Innovation Challenge and the Economic and Social Research Council via InterAct [Grant Reference ES/W007231/1].

For further discussions or potential applications/collaborations, please contact Muttukrishnan Rajarajan.

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The potential of coworking spaces to contribute to geographically distributed manufacturing activity and regional levelling up in the UK

Overview

Working from home, or telework, has been rising in the past 20 years, but large-scale adoption of this practice was never really embraced by the majority of UK employers. In March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic ‘flicked a switch’ overnight, and all workers who were able to work remotely were compelled and facilitated to do so, through digital technologies.

Whilst many people who worked from home during the pandemic, many others found themselves with a lack of appropriate workspace, or experienced a sense of social isolation. As the pandemic subdued, patterns of work have evolved into more complex patterns of hybrid working.

The benefits and disadvantages of working remotely remain in this dichotomy of place – home or the office – yet new workspaces, such as coworking spaces (CWSs) offer a third option. Indeed, the growth of coworking spaces has grown significantly across the world since the pandemic, not only in cities, but also in the suburbs, towns and rural villages.

Other countries (across Europe and the USA) have recognised the potential of CWSs, to help deliver economic growth and develop places beyond their core cities. They have begun to develop explicit policies to support remote working from these places. However, there is a noticeable absence of this type of discussion in UK policy and the question is, why? Are they not popular in such areas of the UK, are they different to city-based CWSs, in what ways? What are the implications for the areas they are located in?

Our pilot study of CWSs in a number of provincial areas in England examined what CWSs in these areas look like, what they do, what are their governance structures and the potential they hold for raising entrepreneurship and business growth beyond core-cities. We interviewed owners, managers and users of CWSs; Chambers of Commerce, local councils, local enterprise partnerships. We made observations of a variety of CWSs types, business models and identified the range of their activities they undertook to support their local areas. We listened to how they were faring, their relationships with each other and other local bodies. Our findings are summarised in two reports. Whilst designed to sit as separate briefs, there is complementary in what they cover, and benefit from being read together.

The first report “The rapid rise of rural co-working in England: sharing experiences for mutual learning” is a briefing for industry. It identifies the activities undertaken across a range of CWSs and collates them to provide insights and suggestions to other CWS owners and managers about the best practices we observed, so that these might be considered by those who do not currently adopt them and strengthen the role of their CWS to its local economy further.

The second report “The potential of coworking spaces to stimulate local growth outside of major cities” is a briefing to local and national policymakers. It identifies more specifically, the contribution CWSs can make to various levels of community: the community within the CWS, the local business community around it, and the wider social community in which they reside. It also identifies areas in which the government could offer more support. The potential value CWSs bring to each level of community means they deserve to have greater attention from local and national policymakers as they grapple with how to stimulate local growth and prosperity across the UK.

This research was conducted by Dr. Felicia M Fai, Dr. Mariachiara Barzotto and Professor Phil Tomlinson (University of Bath). This work was supported by the UKRI Made Smarter Innovation Challenge and the Economic and Social Research Council via InterAct [Grant Reference ES/W007231/1].

For further discussions or potential applications/collaborations, please contact Felicia Fai.

Download “Report - The rapid rise of rural coworking in England: sharing experiences for mutual learning”

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Download “Report - The potential of coworking Spaces to stimulate local growth outside of major cities”

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Future of Digital Manufacturing Ecosystems Report Resources

Future of Digital Manufacturing Ecosystems – 2040 scenarios

Overview

Disruption, digital innovation, new business models… the world of manufacturing is changing rapidly, perhaps faster than ever before. To adapt and survive, businesses must anticipate changes, identify opportunities and make informed decisions.
 
So, how can you be ready for the changes that lie ahead? How can you pivot to be equally productive and sustainable, delivering progress with purpose?
 
The InterAct Future of Digital Manufacturing Ecosystems research team has put together a vital report that brings you the information you need, at your fingertips, outlining potential future scenarios and the associated opportunities for the manufacturing world.
 
Future of Digital Marketing Ecosystems – 2040 Scenarios

These scenarios map out four potential alternatives for the digital manufacturers of tomorrow, including:

  • Productivity Powerhouse
  • Flexibility as Standard
  • Sustainability Champion
  • Happy and Sustainable Workforce

Download the report to find out more about how the most useful measure of sustainable progress is total factor productivity, which accounts for inputs beyond labour – such as materials, energy and administrative time – to compare them against total outputs. You will also learn how these inputs can be measured against one another, and how businesses can begin working towards achieving them.

As the report shows, by considering the human factors behind digitalisation today, you’ll be much better placed to build true resilience into your business tomorrow.

This research was conducted by Dr. Wanrong Zhang, Professor Janet Godsell and Dr. Kamran Chatha (Loughborough University). This work was supported by the UKRI Made Smarter Innovation Challenge and the Economic and Social Research Council via InterAct [Grant Reference ES/W007231/1].

For further discussions or potential applications/collaborations, please contact Jan Godsell.

Download “Report - Future of Digital Manufacturing Ecosystems: 2040 scenarios”

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EU battery regulations 2023: UK readiness for battery passports and smart labelling

Overview

With the enactment of the new EU Battery Regulations, organisations are required to embrace Battery Passports and Smart Labelling, enabling transparency and sustainability in battery production and consumption. Recent research from InterAct funded researchers, however, highlights critical gaps in awareness, information availability, and operational readiness faced by UK organisations in aligning with these legislative changes. 
 
A representative survey was conducted to gauge the awareness and preparedness of 80 organisations in regard to the new EU Battery Regulations. An Industry-Academic round table discussion and follow-up interviews were then held to reflect on the implications for industry.  The results can be downloaded in the two reports below.

This research was conducted by Dr. Melanie King and Paul Timms (Loughborough University). This work was supported by the UKRI Made Smarter Innovation Challenge and the Economic and Social Research Council via InterAct [Grant Reference ES/W007231/1].

For further discussions or potential applications/collaborations, please contact Melanie King.