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Automation and manufacturing systems for additive manufacturing
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Automation and Manufacturing Systems

TWI has been using its deep understanding of welding processes and systems to help companies automate and streamline their manufacturing processes for a number of years.

By combining our multidisciplinary expertise in welding, structural integrity and materials with our knowledge of the latest developments in automation and manufacturing systems – specifically Industry 4.0, or digital manufacturing – we can advise on how best to capitalise on the opportunities presented by additive manufacturing (AM) and integrate it into your workflows.

Digital manufacturing presents opportunities to fabricate parts more reliably, quickly and economically. Through methods such as integrated real-time quality control, robotised processes, intelligent communication between devices and other innovations that reduce the need for human intervention, we can help you adopt transformative technologies that will overhaul your approach to manufacturing.

What is Industry 4.0 and digital manufacturing?

Industry 4.0, a stylised reference to the fourth industrial revolution, forms a fundamental part of the high-tech strategy of the German government and has now taken a prominent position in the mindset of UK and European industry.

The term’s definition has been rephrased around the world, giving rise to various interpretations. However, at its core Industry 4.0 focuses on the following:

  • Cyber-physical systems – the virtualisation of physical systems, to enable decision-making from big data via the Internet of Things
  • The Internet of Things – wirelessly connected applications and systems, from household appliances to factory-floor robots
  • Big data – acquisition of data captured via sensors on manufacturing systems  

Digital manufacturing is the application of Industry 4.0 principles in a production environment.

Benefits of automated manufacturing systems

TWI’s knowledge and application of Industry 4.0 has the potential to revolutionise productivity levels, increasing manufacturing quality while reducing costs. With our help you can realise the following benefits:

  • Development of state-of-the-art turnkey automated welding production systems
  • Knowledge-based digital manufacturing systems that minimise costs and maximise efficiency
  • Reduced human intervention through the application of human knowledge and understanding to automated systems
  • Connectedness throughout the entire value chain – suppliers, manufactures and end users – promoting collaboration and letting customer demand lead innovation

Examples of TWI’s work in this area

Our application and knowledge of Industry 4.0 gained external recognition in early 2016, when we formed and led a team that developed a new approach towards factory floor connectivity that fully realised the principles of Industry 4.0. This concept, Smart Industrial Manufacturing: Robots-as-a-Service, was judged the ‘Best New Catalyst’ at TMForum Live! 2016.

We are applying Industry 4.0 principles in the Additive Manufacturing for Wear and Corrosion Applications (AMCOR) project, a collaborative effort bringing together organisations from across Europe. The project is developing a flexible process for the repair, coating and near-net-shape production of components made from functionally graded materials.

We also lent our expertise in this area to the NOMAD project, which developed an autonomous mobile welding robot for the fabrication of large steel structures.

Contact us to find out how we can use this experience to support your business.