Friday, November 17, 2017

News: Innovative vision of the future of industry


A vision for the development of an Innovation District anchored around Rotherham's Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) shows how an industrial area can be reinvented.

Recognising that high value manufacturing can be key to driving innovation, productivity and exports, civic leaders have committed to the idea of "supercharging" the areas of advanced manufacturing in the Sheffield-Rotherham Economic Corridor. Based around the expanding AMP and surrounding Enterprise Zone, the aim is to develop Europe's largest research-led advanced manufacturing cluster.

Consultants from the global design, architecture and planning firm, IBI Group have carried out visioning work for the potential Sheffield-Rotherham Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District (AMID).

IBI was commissioned by a client partnership comprising Sheffield Council, Rotherham Council, both Sheffield universities and Harworth (the owners and developers of the AMP and Waverley site in Rotherham), and Peel (the promoters of the redevelopment of the former Outokumpu site over the Parkway in Sheffield).


The work explored the potential for the AMP to become the core area of a fully integrated Innovation District dedicated to advanced manufacturing and IBI Group led a team including transport, property and planning specialists to develop a vision and strategy for its implementation.

A spokesperson for the IBI Group, said: "Our vision defined an innovation eco-system that included flexible development plots, start-up support, education and research, high quality housing, supporting infrastructure and multi-modal transport system, and a range of networking spaces and places all within a high quality, connected landscaped environment.

"A key consideration was the impact that good placemaking can have in defining the right environment to attract high value businesses and a highly skilled workforce; re-defining an area for the era of the fourth industrial revolution."

In 2015, Bruce Katz, an expert in cities and economic growth, visited the city region and gave a lecture on Innovation Districts and how they differ from traditional locations of industrial development and insular science parks, instead based around open networks where research and development brings together universities and the private sector.

A masterplan is being produced that will be used as a bidding document for accessing monies through the Government's Growth Deal and other funding sources. In the Government's Autumn Statement 2016 it was announced that £1.4m had been secured by the Sheffield city region to develop plans to provide high quality access to AMID, supporting and enabling growth.

A science and innovation audit also showed that a corridor across the Northern Powerhouse, joining South Yorkshire with Lancashire, has the key components and assets to drive productivity growth in sectors which rely on advanced manufacturing.

Already key to the regeneration of the former coalfield areas, the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) with Boeing, is set to play a key role in the future of the Innovation District. Along with its own multimillion pound research and training facilities in both Rotherham and Sheffield, the institution has been influential in helping to land high profile private sector partners to the district.

Dr Rab Scott, head of digital at The AMRC, said: "We have an emerging Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District, with the AMRC as its most magnetic institution. Rolls-Royce, McLaren, and Boeing are just three of the global brands who are investing in production in this nascent innovation district. Smaller, dynamic innovators, like Performance Engineered Solutions and Iceotope have also set up shop in the region, keen to be close to the capabilities and experience of the AMRC.

"But our success in delivering often undreamt of productivity gains for our partners, and in de-risking new digital technologies and processes to accelerate their implementation on the factory floor, comes with a price tag. We need new buildings, new talent, and new spaces to meet the growing demand for support in adopting the digital technologies that will be the engine of the Fourth Industrial Revolution."


The first industrial revolution relates to mechanisation, the second to mass production, and the third to automation. The Fourth Industrial Revolution is the coming together of cyber networks, with physical networks, to create new autonomous systems. It creates an environment where businesses can give customers exactly what they want when they want it, with all the variations they specify, from the same factory, in a shorter lead time, and more profitably than is possible today.

A recent report for the Government states that, over ten years, industrial digitalisation could boost UK manufacturing by £455bn, increasing sector growth up to 3% per year, and creating a net gain of 175,000 jobs whilst reducing CO2 emissions by 4.5%.

The report was the result of the independent Industrial Digitalisation Review called "Made Smarter," which was chaired by Professor Juergen Maier, the CEO of Siemens UK and no stranger to the region and the University of Sheffield.

Scott added: "We share Juergen's positive vision for advanced manufacturing. And we are working with him to make good his dream that the North – with Sheffield and Rotherham centre stage ­– becomes the engine room of innovation that will drive the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Like the first and second revolutions, we believe this will transform all our lives for the better."

AMRC website

Images: IBI Group


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