Category Archives: Latest

Latest posts from SAM

Webinar series

Augmented Reality: Effective manufacturing applications and business models

Free Webinar Series: The Road to Virtual & Augmented Adoption.

Sustainable Advanced Manufacturing (SAM) Project are running a series of free online events looking at Virtual & Augmented Reality and how they can be applied and bring benefit to manufacturing and industrial contexts.

Throughout the series SAM will be joined by major solutions providers, giving insights into best practice, pathways to successful adoption whilst also demonstrating real-world case studies.

The next in the series ‘Road to Virtual & Augmented Adoption’ is on March 3rd 10 to 11am, featuring Concurrent Engineering who bring over 25 years experience to the field.

This webinar has now passed. A recording will be available soon, if you would like to view this please contact roger.thomas@sunderland.ac.uk

Concurrent Engineering will join the SAM team to look at how and why companies are identifying use cases for Augmented Reality.

The remote workforce has delivered a new normal and the time for adoption is now.

We will share with you:

  •  Industry Trends
  •  Available Tools
  • How To Get Started
A real world case studies will be demonstrated and discussed.

AR can offer unique solutions to unique challenges however identifying these and establishing a strategy is not easy. This session will look at identifying the right solution, what it might bring and how to build a successful strategy for implementation. SAM and Concurrent will share insights and help in identifying business cases or initiatives to get started.

All sessions are free and include the opportunity for Q&A. Register using the SAM Eventbrite page.

To register via Eventbrite click here.

If you missed the first two sessions in the series and would like access, please email: roger.thomas@sunderland.ac.uk

‘The Road to Virtual and Augmented Adoption’ is a series of online events looking at practical applications of Virtual & Augmented Reality, how they can be applied and bring benefit to manufacturing and industrial contexts.
Throughout the series we’ll be joined by major solutions providers who will bring their experience and insights into successful strategies and adoption, as well as demonstrating authoring ‘tools’ and real-world case studies.

Theorem-XR webinar

Any CAD, Any Device, Anywhere and Anyone – Theorem-XR for Industrial Design Review

Free Webinar Series: The Road to Virtual & Augmented Adoption.

Sustainable Advanced Manufacturing (SAM) Project are running a series of free online events looking at Virtual & Augmented Reality and how they can be applied and bring benefit to manufacturing and industrial contexts.

Throughout the series SAM will be joined by major solutions providers, giving insights into best practice, pathways to successful adoption whilst also demonstrating real-world case studies.

The next in the series ‘Road to Virtual & Augmented Adoption’ is on February 17th 10 to 11am where we will be joined by Theorem Solutions who will be demonstrating a use-case, utilising their Theorem-XR platform.

This webinar has now passed.  If you would like a link to the recording, or please email roger.thomas@sunderland.ac.uk

Providing insights into their experience in Vr & Ar (XR) planning, delivery and integration, they will demo a case study built on their industry standard Enterprise platform Theorem-XR, demonstrating how CAD can be optimised and authored for cross platform delivery to support seamless design review.

All sessions are free and include the opportunity for Q&A. Register using the SAM Eventbrite page.

To register for the next session via Eventbrite click here.

If you missed the first session and would like access, please email: roger.thomas@sunderland.ac.uk

“Roadblock: What’s stopping you from going Virtual?”  Wednesday Feb 3rd. 10 – 11am.
In the first session our VR/ AR Specialist Roger Thomas, will give a broad overview of VR/ AR (XR); what they are and what they can support, what prevents companies from adopting XR, what opportunities do they bring and identifying ROI.  Aswell as giving an overview of forthcoming sessions and explaining the support SAM can offer.

Webinar series

Free Webinar Series: The Road to Virtual & Augmented Adoption

This event has now concluded, a recording will be available soon

The next in the series ‘Road to Virtual & Augmented Adoption’ is on February 17th 10 to 11am where we will be joined by Theorem Solutions who will be demonstrating a use-case, utilising their Theorem-XR platform, more details to follow.

 Free Webinar Series: The Road to Virtual & Augmented Adoption

SAM are running a series of online events looking at practical applications of Virtual & Augmented Reality, how they can be applied and bring benefit to manufacturing and industrial contexts.
Throughout the series we’ll be joined by major solutions providers who will bring their experience and insights into successful strategies and adoption, as well as demonstrating authoring ‘tools’ and real-world case studies.

“Roadblock: What’s stopping you from going Virtual?”  Wednesday Feb 3rd. 10 – 11am.
In the first session our VR/ AR Specialist Roger Thomas, will give a broad overview of VR/ AR (XR); what they are and what they can support, what prevents companies from adopting XR, what opportunities do they bring and identifying ROI. Aswell as giving an overview of forthcoming sessions and explaining the support SAM can offer.

All sessions are free and include the opportunity for Q&A. Register using the SAM Eventbrite page.

To register for the next session via Eventbrite click here.

Ken Teears Project Manager for SAM Project

Manufacturers urged to ‘think local’

A TEAM of industry experts is urging regional manufacturers to prioritise localising supply chains, to minimise the impact of future crises on the sector.

The Sustainable Advanced Manufacturing Project, a £10.9million initiative set up to provide expert advice and funding to North East SME manufacturers, issued the rallying call after witnessing first-hand how travel restrictions have affected the sector over recent months.

When national lockdowns were imposed in March last year due to the pandemic, entire supply chains were brought to a halt almost overnight, highlighting the extreme fragility of extended global supply chains, as firms the world-over were unable to import key components and materials.

Scores of small to medium sized manufacturers from across the North East have since approached the team at SAM – comprising academics from University of Sunderland and industry leading experts – for advice on securing and safeguarding their supply chains, as they look to minimise the impact of future crises.

Ken Teears, Project Manager of the SAM Project, said: “British manufacturing has been dealt blow after blow by the pandemic and establishing sustainable, localised supply chains is key to safeguarding the industry’s future.

“This was not only a challenge for the large Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), SME manufacturers were also left high and dry as suppliers in mainland Europe closed temporarily and imports ceased.

“The SAM Project was able to advise companies on how they could bring production in-house and identify the manufacturing equipment required to do so.

“Companies saw that, while the unit price of making components in-house was slightly higher, the reduced risk, increased resilience and ability for staff to move onto this equipment if supply chains were disrupted again, meant they were good investments to make.

“Over the past 40 years we have seen a huge shift in the number of western manufacturers setting up facilities and sourcing parts from suppliers in low-wage economies, while failing to heed the advice of the many industry-experts and academics urging companies to establish more localised, sustainable supply chains.

“While there is no hiding from the fact that the production of materials and parts overseas can be – at times – significantly cheaper for manufacturers, the pandemic acted as a stark reminder that the ever-growing trend of manufacturers relying upon imports can also be hugely damaging to the industry’s supply chains.                                                          

“Jaguar Land Rover was a great example of this. When Chinese factories and ports were forced to close in February last year due to the pandemic, the automotive giant’s global supply chain almost ground to a halt and the company made headlines the world-over after being forced to fly-in vital components via suitcases.”

Another example was the UK’s reliance upon imported PPE, the majority of which failed to meet the standards set by Public Health England (PHE) and forced a valiant effort from UK manufacturers to diversify and begin producing PPE of their own to support the fight against the virus.

Within weeks, millions of items of PPE were produced by UK manufacturers – many of which were from the North East – meeting the highest of industry standards and ensuring the safety of our key workers.

As well as quality and economic benefits, the reshoring of manufacturing and localising of supply chains also has huge environmental advantages, helping companies slash their carbon footprint and support the UK’s fight to cap greenhouse emissions.

“Many materials and parts are transported halfway around the world before the final product is even sold.” Teears said. “By sourcing goods locally, we can effectively eradicate the need for unnecessary transport, helping firms reduce their carbon footprint and providing a huge shot in the arm to their local economies.”

The SAM Project was launched in 2018 in a bid to help businesses become more productive and sustainable by supporting projects that enhance their products, processes and technology.

Since then, the programme – which was due to end in December 2020 – has proved a huge success, providing £800,000 in matched-funding – as well as practical and research support to over 200 SMEs across the region – and is set to continue supporting the sector after securing a further £6 million, taking it to June 2023.

“If we can encourage more manufacturers to source parts locally, bringing production back to the North East that was previously outsourced and/or re-shore a larger proportion of their components, then this will prove a huge boost to the region and the resilience of the sector going forward,” Teears added.

“Since the outbreak of the pandemic, manufacturers of all kinds have contacted us for support and we have witnessed lots of companies looking to think local and make their supply chains more sustainable.

“If we can be certain of one thing as we look to 2021, it’s that there will undoubtedly be more challenges ahead for the sector as we look to bounce back from the pandemic and adjust to the new trading conditions brought about by Brexit.

“However it’s important to remember that support is available for those affected, from both the SAM Project and other programmes in the region, whom we work closely with, and we’d urge any company seeking advice and guidance to contact us for support and guidance.”

For more information on the SAM Project, visit: https://samprojectuos.co.uk/

Grant support helps sustain growth for Vixen

A NORTH East manufacturer of industrial cleaning machinery and equipment has revealed how a business support programme helped it through the pandemic and prepare for life post-Coronavirus.

Founded in 1990 by managing director Aidan Mallon, Thornaby-based Vixen Surface Treatments is a market leader in the production of wet and dry blast cleaning cabinets, degreasing machines and phosphating equipment.

Manufacturing both off-the-shelf and bespoke machinery, the company exports 40% of its products overseas to customers in the nuclear, engineering, healthcare, automotive and aerospace industries, meaning it is often required to maintain close and constant dialogue with clients.

Thanks to a capital expenditure grant obtained last year from the Sustainable Advanced Manufacturing (SAM) Project – which offers a range of support to the region’s SME manufacturing businesses – Aidan and the team were able to mitigate the impact of social distancing and travel bans throughout the pandemic, by purchasing state-of-the-art 3D CAD visualisation software.

The installation of ‘Solidworks’ software means Vixen is able to provide 3D demonstrations of its products to clients, allowing them to visualise how products will look and work once complete.

Aidan said: “As a manufacturer you must explore every avenue possible to grow your business, be it investing in new equipment or tapping into expertise and funding – and business support from organisations such as SAM is vital to helping SMEs move forward.

“We’d just extended our factory prior to approaching SAM and wanted to move into Solidworks. The grant helped us secure the funding needed to do that and accelerated our growth, helping us gain a competitive advantage by massively increasing the quality of service we’re able to offer clients.”

Vixen began producing 3D virtualisations just under a year ago and it has already enabled the company to secure a major export order from a German aerospace business, as well as helping keep its order book filled during the pandemic, which brought manufacturing supply chains to a halt across the globe.

“The first project we completed after the investment saw us test the Solidworks software on a live project that we won,” he added. “It was a €500,000 export order from a German aerospace company and I genuinely believe we wouldn’t have won that contract without including it in our offer. It really adds credibility and professionalism to our proposals.

“It also helped us share up-to date designs and updates with clients during the pandemic, meaning we could still fulfil orders despite travel bans. That’s not to say we weren’t impacted by the pandemic – as we were functioning with just 25% of our workforce at one stage – but it certainly helped us to continue operating and servicing clients.

“We’re now have almost everyone back at work and the continuity of interest means our order book remains heavy. Now, looking to the future, we’re confident that we can continue building on this.”

SAM offers four key support functions to businesses that are gearing up to grow, including access to technical expertise, with industrial specialists using their skill and expertise to guide businesses through the process of understanding and implementing technology; R&D, with a team of researchers able to support with the development of new products and processes; factories and facilities, including access to £1m of industry-leading advanced technology and equipment; and its grants scheme, that offers financial assistance to businesses that qualify.

Ken Teears, project manager at SAM, said: “Vixen Surface Technologies is a fine example of how visualisation through 3D technologies such as Computer Aided Design (CAD) and Computer Aided Manufacture (CAM)can help businesses innovate and grow, even during the most challenging of conditions.

“Millions of manufacturers across the world are reeling from this crisis and wondering how they can improve business continuity strategies in the event of such disasters going forward. Technologies such as Solidworks and other CAD, CAM that can also be pulled into Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) will play a huge role in helping businesses minimise downtime in the future. It’s been a pleasure working with Aidan and the team and we’re excited to see what the future holds for them.”

Image shows: Aidan Mallon, managing director of Thornaby-based Vixen Surface Treatments.

DLAW A NORTH EAST manufacturer of industrial heating units for the agriculture sector is celebrating after securing its largest contract to date.

DLAW expands with SAM help

A NORTH EAST manufacturer of industrial heating units for the agriculture sector is celebrating after securing its largest contract to date.

DLAW Contractors, based at Port of Sunderland, has created four new jobs as a direct result of the six-figure contract win, which will see it manufacture, supply and install a 6.2 megawatt output grain drying unit for a working farm in Northumberland.

The grain drying unit – which will be powered by two geo-thermal ground-source heat pumps – was designed and procured by renewable energy specialist Calibrate Energy Engineering on behalf of the farm. The project will drastically reduce its reliance on fossil fuels and significantly reduce its carbon footprint when fully operational.

The contract win marks the 17th industrial heating unit to roll-off the DLAW production line since the company opened its manufacturing facility at the port in April 2019 and has seen the firm recruit four more staff – from accounts to coded welders – to help ease its ever-growing workload.

Dale Barry, co-founder and managing director at DLAW, said: “This is a huge win for us and we are absolutely delighted to be in a position where we can continue investing in the business and create opportunities for local people, especially during a period of such economic uncertainty.

“Over the past 18 months we’ve seen the business grow from a team of four to a team of 12 full-time members of staff operating from our own, dedicated manufacturing facility, and we couldn’t be happier with how the company has progressed.

“As well as manufacturing our geothermal heating units, we also have a contract to manufacture solar-powered containerised, transportable water treatment systems for Pure Water International. The units provide a self-sufficient and sustainable way for hard to reach communities across the globe to access clean drinking water and we’re confident both sides of the business will continue to grow as we look to the future.”

Shane McDonald, director of Calibrate Energy Engineering, added: “We awarded the contract of principal contractor to DLAW based on its understanding of the product and expertise in the manufacturing sector, which gave us confidence to move forward with the project and we are delighted to be working with them”.

DLAW secured the contract after tapping into support from the Sustainable Advanced Manufacturing (SAM) Project, a £10.9million business support programme led by the University of Sunderland and backed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

The support helped DLAW not only identify the machinery required to improve its manufacturing process but also provided it with the funding to help with the purchase of a new 8×4 CNC Plasma Cutter machine.

“The support we’ve received from SAM has been fantastic,” Dale added. “Not only has it helped us invest in new machinery, but it has also helped us improve our processes and ensure we are running as lean an operation as possible.

“Without the new CNC Plasma machine we would have struggled to take on a project of this size and I couldn’t recommend the project enough to any manufacturing business looking to futureproof their business and continue growing post-pandemic.”

Ken Teears, project manager at SAM, said: “The SAM Project was set up to provide innovative SME manufacturers across the North East with the tools and capital required to help them push the boundaries of their respective industries and DLAW is a perfect example of this.

“As a start-up business, the company has been able to adapt quicker than most to changes in its key markets and this is evident by its latest success which has seen the firm punch well above its weight and position it as a key challenger in the supply of industrial heating units. We are delighted to have been able to support the company and would like to wish them all the best for the future.”

Turnmill re-jigs

Turnmill rejigs as orders soar

A SUNDERLAND-based engineering firm has expanded its presence in the city after investing in new premises and machinery during the pandemic

Turnmill Engineering, which is based at Washington Business Centre, works with businesses and individuals to help bring new products to market and improve production processes.

Specialising in the production of consumables, jigs and fixtures and machine components, the company was founded in 2018 by three industry experts boasting over 100 years’ experience between them and – boosted by an uplift in orders during the pandemic – is currently on track to record its best year to date.

The expansion, which has seen the firm increase its footprint three-fold, coincides with an investment in new machinery, including three Mazak CNC lathes machines, which will help the company achieve its target of increasing output by 50% over the coming months as it looks to ramp up production.

Andrew Howe, co-founder and operations director, said: “We try to concentrate on jigs, fixtures and production line improvements but if you were to take one look at our order book then you’d soon see just how much of a wide range of projects we work across.

“We started out in 2018 by completing a handful of projects for clients primarily in the automotive sector however since then – literally by word of mouth – we have diversified and established ourselves in several key sectors including pharmaceuticals, motorsport and construction.”

Turnmill Engineering has grown by 30% year-on-year since its launch however its busiest period to date proved to be while the UK was placed in lockdown during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We welcomed on board a number of new customers during the pandemic and this was mainly due to our production breakdown and line improvement service,” Andrew added.

“With manufacturers the world over forced to adhere to strict social distancing measures, companies began exploring new ways to reduce production costs and we have been fortunate in the fact that we’ve been able to help through the provision of new fixtures, jigs and product development and hopefully we can continue building on that momentum post-covid.”

Turnmill moved to Washington Business Centre after being introduced to the office space by Sunderland City Council’s business investment team and being impressed by its flexibility and its ability to accommodate its future growth plans, which will see the company continue adding to its headcount over the next 12 months.

Andrew said: “What really impressed us about Washington Business Centre was the flexibility it offered us to grow. Since moving to the centre two and a half years ago, we’ve already expanded three times into larger units which has allowed us to continue scaling while causing minimum disruption to the business.

“Another advantage was its location, as it is situated ideally on the Nissan commuter belt. The North East is home to one of the largest automotive clusters in Europe and to be right at the beating heart of this has proven ideal for us as a company and has played a key role in helping us grow.

“We now have five members of staff and – following this latest move and the investment in new machinery – are looking to create a further two roles over the next 12 months, one of which will be an experienced engineer and one which will hopefully be at entry-level as we look to pass on our knowledge and know-how to the next generation, too.”

Turnmill’s investment in new machinery was also supported by the University of Sunderland’s Sustainable Advanced Manufacturing (SAM) Project, which provides matched-funding and business support to SME manufacturers across the North East LEP area and recently secured a £6 million extension taking the programme to 2023.

Ken Teears, project manager at SAM, said: “We were delighted to work with Andrew and the team at Turnmill to help identify new opportunities for growth and invest in the machinery required to take the business to the next level.

“The SAM Project was set up to support the implementation of product and process development in order to help the region’s SME manufacturers unlock their growth potential and Turnmill is yet another great example of this in action.”

Councillor Graeme Miller, leader of Sunderland City Council, said: “Washington Business Centre was launched to help SMEs scale and grow and to see Turnmill Engineering continuing to innovate and expand its presence at the business hub is a fantastic success story not only for the centre but for the city as a whole and I think I speak for everyone at the Council when I say we’d like to wish them all the best for the future.”

RDS Engineering receive grant

North East firm turns weeks into days with new kit

A WEARSIDE engineering firm has trimmed weeks from delivery times, thanks to support from an elite team of manufacturing experts.

RDS Engineering is turning weeks into days and days into minutes, thanks to state-of-the-art scanning equipment, purchased with the assistance of the Sustainable Advanced Manufacturing (SAM) Project.

SAM, which offers a range of support to SME manufacturing businesses in the North East LEP area, also supported the Washington firm via a production planning and workflow management workshop, to help iron out any kinks in RDS Engineering’s internal processes.

RDS managing director, Rob Bone, backed the SAM Project as a vital weapon in the armoury to combat the impact of the COVID19 pandemic has had on manufacturing businesses.

“There are businesses that are going to need all the support available to them as we emerge from lockdown and begin the process of restoring normality,” said Rob. “Projects like SAM are essential to help firms, like ours, take that next step and begin operating on another level.

“We probably would not have been in a position to invest in the new scanning equipment if it weren’t for the support of the SAM Project. However, having done so, and gained new knowledge and understanding via the workshop, we have massively reduced our inspection timescale – in most cases turning weeks into days, which has been a huge manhours saving for the business.”

As well as the new scanner, SAM helped fund a new Hwacheon Vesta 1000+ vertical CNC machine, which has been installed at RDS Engineering’s Washingto HQ.

Established in 1991 by Rob and David Bone, RDS Engineering is an independent supplier of precision engineered components and tooling. Having established a reputation for rapid response and high-quality products to the oil and gas, automotive, aerospace and defence, medical and power generation sectors, the company has set its sights on the pharmaceutical and rail sectors as potential growth areas.

Jess Houston, RDS Engineering office manager, added: “Like every business, our immediate priority is making sure we emerge from the pandemic in a positive way and see no reason that, with the speed we can now accomplish inspection, we can’t expand into new sectors to win business.”

SAM offers four key support functions to businesses that are gearing up to grow, including access to technical expertise, with industrial specialists using their skill and expertise to guide businesses through the process of understanding and implementing technology; R&D, with a team of researchers able to support with the development of new products and processes; factories and facilities, including access to £1m of industry-leading advanced technology and equipment; and its grants scheme, that offers financial assistance to businesses that qualify.

Ken Teears, project manager at SAM, said: “RDS Engineering is a prime example of a company operating successfully in a sector in which our region has particular traditional strengths. However, what sets them apart from many is the desire to drive forward progress and keep improving and streamlining its processes.

“As we look beyond the economic impact of the COVID19 pandemic, we want businesses to know that we are here for them – ready, willing and able to lend our support to the major effort required to get the UK economy back on its feet and moving in the right direction.”

As well as its comprehensive suite of support, the SAM Project also launched an adapted grant scheme to help SME manufacturers looking to pivot during the pandemic, and the organisation is urging eligible businesses to apply for funding before time runs out.

The fund provides support to companies that have had to diversify or adapt in order to stay in business and operational during and after COVID-19, with match funding grants of up to £10,000 available, as well as its normal funding stream to support businesses looking to diversify, or improve products and processes in order to grow.

Applications can be for new capital equipment or external expertise – excluding working capital, salaries, rent or rates – to help their company survive, adapt and sustain themselves through and after the crisis. Companies looking to innovate and grow are still encouraged to apply even if their capital investment is not specifically as a result of COVID-19.

This could include buying capital kit to help diversify income, bringing outsourced processes and parts manufacture in-house, such as re-shoring parts made overseas to safeguard supply chains, improvements required in manufacturing operations as a result of social distancing measures and government guidelines, or any manufacturing and production specific capital investment to help the company diversify, stay afloat or take advantage of changes in market conditions. Grants are offered at a 50% rate in County Durham and 40% rate in Tyne and Wear and Northumberland. The current grant fund ends in September 2020.

Sustainable Advanced Manufacturing is a collaboration between European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and University of Sunderland, that was set up to support North East (LEP) SME manufacturers to explore and introduce new technology to improve their products or processes. It was funded with a £2.6m commitment from ERDF and £2.5m from the University of Sunderland, and is aimed solely at small and medium sized manufacturers (under 250 employees), with an annual turnover of less than €50m (£45m approx.)

To find out more about SAM, visit www.samprojectuos.co.uk or contact sam.project@sunderland.ac.uk

Images: Jess Houston, RDS Engineering office manager and Rob Bone, RDS Engineering managing director.