Technological Transformation the Future for SMEs

Technological transformation in manufacturing was the topic of the day at a recent workshop entitled ‘Industry 4.0 – Digital Transformation in Manufacturing’, held in Element Six in Shannon and organised by Limerick Institute of Technology (LIT) and IS4PROD, a European Hub for Digital Innovation in Manufacturing based in LIT.

The purpose of the workshop was to raise awareness of digital transformation among manufacturing SMEs in the Mid-West region and draw attention to the National and European funding available for companies who wish to incorporate digital innovation in their manufacturing operation.

Companies such as Dell EMC , Grattan Computing, Kneat Software Solutions and Evolve Technologies gave an insight into aspects of digital transformation such as: Shop Floor Digitisation; Business Intelligence; Internet of Things (IoT) and Manufacturing Digitisation. International speaker Joost van Barneveld (Watify), an expert on European Funding for Technological Transformation, spoke to the group about the €50 billion being invested by the European Union to boost digital innovations in SMEs across Europe  and the benefits for manufacturing SMEs in Ireland who embrace this new technological revolution.

Limerick Institute of Technology spoke about the College’s engagement with companies on manufacturing research and the ongoing development of industry-led courses.

Speaking about the event, Shannon Chamber CEO Helen Downes said: “It is so important for our SME sector to be aware of new developments taking place in manufacturing and the funding that is available to help them adopt new technologies into their operating processes. Element Six was a natural fit for hosting an event of this nature given its recent investment announcement, and to have our tertiary sector present in an out-of-college environment was also most beneficial.

David Hanly, general manager, IEPRO Element Six added: “We in Element Six were delighted to host this important event. As a materials company with complex production processes, we acknowledge the vast opportunity that lies in connecting all of our available data to maximise yield and machine utilisation, two of our key cost drivers. Ironically industry has fallen behind ‘everyday life’ in using data and so remains an important challenge in the years ahead.”

Laura Foley, project manager IS4PROD, European Hub for Digital Transformation in Manufacturing added: “New technologies are creating new opportunities in manufacturing globally. Limerick Institute of Technology is supporting companies to take advantage of these opportunities, providing a range of new industry-led courses in advanced manufacturing and at the same time collaborating with companies on manufacturing research to drive the Mid-West’s technological transformation. Events such as this workshop are an opportunity for manufacturing companies in the region to network with IT service providers with the expertise to implement these innovations.”

Photo caption:

Pictured at the seminar (front l-r): Noel Mulcahy, Evolve Technologies; Jeff McCann, Dell EMC; Laura Foley, IS4PROD; Helen Downes, Shannon Chamber; Dr. Frances Hardiman – Head of Department of Electrical and Electronics Engineering, LIT; Kevin Fitzgerald, Kneat Software; and Frank Walsh, Grattan Computers Ltd.

 Back l-r: Ian Barrett, Shannon Chamber; Dr Liam Brown, Vice President for Research Enterprise Development of LIT; Mike Linnane, Evolve Technologies; Joost Van Barneveld, Watify; and John Cosgrove, technical director ACORN Research LIT.

Photograph by Eamon Ward


Presenters/Presentations included:

  • Laura Foley, Project Manager of IS4PROD: ‘Introduction to European Hub for Digital Innovation in Manufacturing’: an overview of the role of the Hub, its focus region and main activities.
  • John Cosgrove, Technical Director of ACORN Research Centre, LIT: ‘The new LIT Apprentice Level 6 Course in Manufacturing & ICT: an overview of the new course to be launched by LIT to meet the demand for higher expertise in the manufacturing sector integrating with IT technologies.
  • Dr Liam Brown, Vice President for Research Enterprise Development of LIT: L.I.T Innovation through Collaboration Approach with industry.
  • Noel Mulcahy. Evolve Technologies: ‘Business Intelligence Tools’: an explanation of the process of manipulation techniques with Business Intelligence (BI) tools to convert simple data into knowledge and wisdom, and a case study on applying BI as an integrated solution for the management of Governance, Risk & Compliance.
  • Jeff McCann, Dell Internet of Things (IoT): ‘Innovation in Internet of Things (IoT): presentation of an ecosystem where customers design and test solutions, providing them with new business insights and opportunities.
  • Frank Walsh, CEO and System Architect, Grattan Computing: ‘Factory Logistics and OEE’; an outline of the project developed in partnership with a precision manufacturing SME and Acorn Research Centre, to extract information from CNC machines and develop software interfaces, database technology, digital displays and gateways to provide a seamless interface between shop floor sensor data, machine centre information and the ERP Production Planning and Scheduling Software. enabling factory-floor data of machines from different manufacturers to communicate with the ERP and other systems, as well as Machine to Machine (M2M) communication, enhancing Factory logistics and reducing paper-based needs in a factory.
  • Kevin Fitzgerald, Kneat Software Solutions: ‘Validation Lifecycle Management’: developing tools for good manufacturing practice (GMP) and validation in the pharmaceutical, biotech and medical device manufacturing sectors.
  • Joost van Barneveld, Technopolis Group / Watify, Amsterdam, Netherlands: ‘EU Case Study and Funding Mechanisms’: presentations on technological transformation, its benefits and opportunities for businesses; Watify – a non-profit initiative supported by the European Commission to assist Industry with the digital transformation of their businesses; funding schemes to support SME’s technological transformation in Europe and; a series of case studies.

The Workshop Chair was John Cosgrove, Technical Director of the ACORN Research Centre, LIT.