Foundation Industries 4.0 – Workshop & Networking Event Roundup
On 27th April 2023, Women Innovators in Foundation Industries (WINFI) held a Foundation Industries 4.0 - Workshop & Networking Event focussing on digital innovations.
This event was in collaboration with the EPSRC Next Stage Digital Economy Research Centre (DIGIT Lab), led by the Initiative for Digital Economy (INDEX).
The aims of this event were to:
- Showcase real world Foundation Industry 4.0 solutions from Women Innovators
- Discuss opportunities and barriers to digital transformation with cross-sector stakeholders
- Inspire businesses to adopt digital innovations to help them stay competitive in a rapidly evolving global marketplace
- Create awareness around data-driven design and tools to support digital transformation.
Buffy Price, Co-founder & COO of Carbon Re, set the scene by describing how cement, steel and other foundation industries are facing a perfect storm of rising energy prices, low margins and growing carbon taxes. Carbon Re are an Artificial Intelligence (AI) company developing solutions to cut costs and emissions in energy-intensive manufacturing. Buffy highlighted just how important it is to exploit the data collected by cement producers on the chemistry, kiln settings, fan settings, kiln temperatures to gain savings in fuel costs, fuel consumption, carbon and NOx emissions, while improving throughput and clinker quality.
Integrated production technologies have evolved to embrace the modernisation of manufacturing facilities in the Foundation Industries and Lani Scholtz, Marketing Manager at Promtek Ltd, highlighted that digitalisation is not only key for resource and energy efficiency, but also for health, safety and operator confidence. Promtek provides expertise in designing and integrating process control and automation systems for a variety of bulk material handling industries.
Emeso Ojo, Senior Research Scientist at Cloud Cycle Ltd, described how Cloud Cycle sensors enable AI to monitor concrete quality during transport and delivery. The platform provides detailed reports with deep insights to drive better decision making to lower costs, improve concrete quality and reduce waste – all enabled through data. Emeso emphasised just how critical digital testing versus manual testing is especially in the context of large infrastructure projects such as HS2 which could save 10s of millions on physical testing costs.
Recycling and recovery facilities are also facing challenges such as increasing demand for recycled materials but struggling with inefficiencies as well increasing pressure from consumers and regulatory bodies. Alisa Pritchard, Head of Marketing at Greyparrot AI, showed us with a series of videos how they are using their AI waste monitoring system to give real-time analytics – moving away from a world of inaccurate, manual sorting of 1% of waste. The AI model can detect 67 classes of materials including from metals, fibres, and plastics. Alisa explained how digitising recycling can extract the full financial value from waste to close the loop on circular economy.
Angelo Mermiklis, Co-founder of Circuland, is also supporting the transition to a circular economy by developing a platform to connect supply and demand for re-used materials and creating Materials Passports for new and existing products. In this case, a Materials Passport is a digital document that provides information on the materials used in a building, including their origin, composition, and environmental impact – this has the potential to disrupt the construction industry by transforming the way buildings are designed and construction materials are valued and used.
In the context of digital transformation, the challenges businesses face become more complex, specifically around data and machine learning technologies. Despite the availability of data as a resource for creating new value and/or more sustainable solutions, understanding how to utilise data in designing new products, services, and user experiences remains a challenge.
Attendees took part in an interactive workshop, designed and facilitated by Saeema Ahmed-Kristensen, Professor of Design Engineering and Innovation, University of Exeter, Co-Director INDEX and Director of DIGITLab UKRI Next Stage Digital Economy Centre (DIGITLab) as well as Dr Boyeun Lee who is a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at DIGITLab.
Saeema and Boyeun presented a data-driven design framework based on a review of over 100+ cases and engaged with attendees to explore wider challenges faced by the foundation industries in digital innovation but also their own individual challenges in their respective businesses relating to sustainability and efficiency. Attendees then teamed up to create a mission statement around a given challenge and explore the possibilities of digital technology and 4.0 solutions – the key here wasn’t just to think about how good the solution could be, but what activities, partners, costs and data would be required as well as barriers and negative consequences.
Clearly, data and digitalisation are critical components for achieving a net-zero future. 27th April also marked International Girls in ICT Day – if you know girls and young women in STEM, show them this article so they can learn from female leaders in the field and see how developing digital skills now can help protect our planet.
Stay connected to Women innovators in Foundation Industries through our workshop series.
Women Innovators in the Foundation Industries (WINFI)
On International Women in Engineering Day 2022, the Innovate UK KTN Materials Team and the Transforming Foundation Industries Challenge launched the Women Innovators in Foundation Industries (WINFI) programme.