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A no-nonsense approach to adopting new digital tools

Author : Dr Andy Levers, Executive Director

31 July 2020

For over 50 years, Genlab has designed and manufactured industrial and laboratory ovens, incubators, drying cabinets, water baths and other associated thermal products.

Genlab recognised the benefits of employing a variety of new technologies within the business but did not have the capacity or the specialist knowledge to explore how new tools could support a push toward greater efficiency and innovation.

It wanted to explore how the existing factory layout and current processes could be optimised to improve efficiency and meet growing customer demand for its products, without compromising its handcrafted approach or having to make greater financial investments.

Partner support

Liverpool University’s Virtual Engineering Centre worked with Genlab to evaluate how the highly skilled but traditional approaches it employed could benefit from new digital technologies.

Opportunities for innovation included utilising the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) for preventative maintenance, improving connectivity of products, and exploring how the current factory layout and manufacturing process could be changed to improve productivity. The business produces highly customised products, with complex components and processes. The current processes are not highly automated and the challenge was to look for methods to empower a highly skilled workforce with new information for rapid and better decision making.

Working closely with Genlab, the VEC studied the existing floor plan and factory machine layout, evaluating process times at different workstations. Using this high level production data and layouts, the VEC created a full model factory simulation using specialist software, SIMIO. The results enabled Genlab to explore alternative layouts, helping them to understand which layout gained maximum efficiency.

Read the full article in the August issue of DPA.

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