Drives & Controls November/December 2023

n NEWS November/December 2023 6 THE UK GOVERNMENT has announced plans to expand the Made Smarter programme to the whole of the UK as part of its newly-announced £4.5bn of funding for British manufacturing. The government-funded Made Smarter programme helps SME manufacturers to use digital technologies. Since it launched in 2018, it has helped more than 2,500 manufacturers in limited regions of England, through grant funding, technology advice and skills training. Now the government is planning to expand the scheme to other parts of England in 2025-26, before working with the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to explore making the programme UK-wide from 2026-27. Stephen Phipson, CEO of the manufacturers’ organisation Make UK, has welcomed the move, saying: “Make UK has long campaigned for Made Smarter to be a fully national scheme so that all SME manufacturers can benefit from the expertise the programme delivers and we are delighted at today’s decision from government to commit to a national rollout.” The plans to expand Made Smarter are part of £4.5bn of funding for British manufacturing to boost economic growth announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Jeremy Hunt. This will be targeted at eight sectors that the government regards as being key to economic growth, energy security and levelling-up. They include automotive, aerospace, life sciences and clean energy. The funding will be available for five years from 2025. More than £2bn has been earmarked for the automotive sector and £975m for aerospace, to support production, development and supply chains for zero-emission vehicles, and investment in efficient and zero-carbon aircraft. The government has also committed £960m to a Green Industries Growth Accelerator to support clean energy manufacturing, and £520m for life sciences manufacturing. The government says it is targeting the funds at what it regards as the UK’s strongest sectors, including those where the industry is undergoing fundamental changes to remain at the forefront of the global transition to net-zero. Announcing the programme, Chancellor Hunt said: “Our £4.5bn of funding will leverage many times that from the private sector, and in turn will grow our economy, creating more skilled, higherpaid jobs in new industries that will be built to last.” Manufacturing accounts for more than 43% of all UK exports and employs 2.6m people. Made Smarter to go UK-wide as part of £4.5bn manufacturing plan p ABB is spending $280m on a new Robotics Campus in Sweden which will serve as its hub for Europe and will boost its robot production capacity by 50%. The 65,000m2 Campus, with a workforce of 1,300, will replace an existing facility and will bring together automated manufacturing, R&D and training centres to develop next generation AI-enabled technologies. It is due to open in late 2026. The Campus will supply AI-enabled collaborative and industrial robots, as well as digital systems to support flexible automation. p Rockwell Automation is buying the US industrial cybersecurity specialist Verve Industrial Protection, for an undisclosed sum. The deal will add asset inventory and vulnerability management systems to Rockwell’s portfolio. Verve, founded almost 30 years ago as Rkneal, has a track record of more than 1,000 automation and control projects. Its Security Center is a vendor-neutral OT endpoint management platform that enables real-time asset inventory, vulnerability management and risk remediation. p Fanuc has signed a contract with Volvo Cars to supply industrial robots for plants around the globe, including new battery production facilities in Europe, Asia and America. The first phase involves supplying more than 700 robots for a new manufacturing site in Slovakia – Volvo’s first site to make only EVs. The first vehicles are due to roll off the production line in 2026. Fanuc will also supply robots to sites in Belgium and China. p According to a new report from ABI Research, industrial and manufacturing contributed $16.3 trillion worth of value to the global economy in 2022. The manufacturing value added (MVA) growth was slightly less than the 20% growth from 2020 to 2021. The Big Four manufacturing nations (China, the US, Japan and Germany) accounted for 57% of the world's MVA – more than in 2021. Petroleum refining, mining, and automotive manufacturing continue to dominate, with no electronics companies in the top 10. NEWS BRIEFS The High Value Manufacturing Catapult has launched a free tool that makes it easier for UK manufacturers to connect with suppliers of goods and services. The UK Supply Chain Directory brings together hundreds of thousands of UK industrial businesses in an easy-to-search online resource. The Directory was developed by the HVM Catapult in collaboration with The Data City and Digital Catapult, as part of the Made Smarter Innovation | Digital Supply Chain Hub. It is claimed to offer more extensive and better quality information on UK manufacturers than any other source. Users can search the directory by company size, location, specialist areas, or other filters. By building closer ties with local businesses, the tool will help manufacturers to increase their supply chain visibility and address potential weaknesses with upstream and downstream partners. Connecting with local suppliers could also cut transport distances, emissions and costs. Businesses can apply to include their profiles in the directory. • The HVM Catapult has also launched a Manufacturing Energy Toolkit that helps SMEs to cut energy costs. Experts from the Catapult perform an assessment at no cost to the SME. The aim is to understand an SME’s energy use, as well as potential ways of improving its efficiency. In a pilot run by WMG, the Toolkit cut SMEs’ energy costs by 12-46%. They saved an average of 21%, and in one case, a single machine saved 90%. manufacturing-energy-toolkit Hunt: the £4.5bn investment will create skilled, higherpaid jobs in new industries that will be built to last Free directory will help manufacturers to find suppliers