Beeston project among winners of UKRI innovation funding

An innovative project from Beeston bed manufacturer Harrison Spinks is amongst the winners of almost £14m in combined UKRI backing from its latest funding call under the Made Smarter Innovation challenge – the Sustainable Smart Factory competition.

The project run by Spinko Limited (part of Harrison Spinks) aims to tackle machine waste and inefficiencies in bed and wire spring manufacturing and has been awarded £677,413. It will develop a smart network of digital decision tools to simulate and predict resource and energy use, with sensors and meters to assess production and improve its effectiveness.

Spinko’s consortium partners are Bespoke Automation Controls Solutions, with expertise in machine programming languages and the Manufacturing Technology Centre, who have deep experience in digitised factory projects.

The consortium will develop a demonstrator, based on Harrison Spinks production processes. Additionally, a new tool will be developed for other manufacturers to support their take up of digitised solutions for CO2 reductions. The project will take two years and will draw on team experience and expertise in machine learning, networking and Industrial Internet of Things technologies.

The collaborative research and development competition sought to identify and support digital innovations to improve the sustainability of manufacturing processes, resulting in either reduced material or energy consumption. Projects applying for funding were required to show an innovative development and application of data or digital technology that could help optimise material usage, and reduce, reuse or separate waste materials, or lower energy consumption to increase sustainability throughout an area of production.

Industry Minister Jackie Doyle-Price said:

“Creating and adopting the latest in digital technology solutions will be key to the continued success of our manufacturing sector. It is now critical that companies are using technology such as AI and virtual reality to maximise their potential by driving up their energy efficiency and productivity.

“The cutting-edge projects based in Leeds that have been awarded funding today are testament to the city’s wonderful business community. By harnessing digital technologies for baking and bed making, these projects are showing how businesses in sectors right across can use cutting edge tech to unlock growth and boost jobs.”

Chris Needham, Innovation Lead in the Made Smarter Innovation challenge, said:

“Effective digital technologies can have a substantial impact on the manufacturing sector, bringing outdated, inefficient and unproductive products and processes up the standards needed for a net zero industry of the future. It’s clear from the wide range of applications we received just how far waste and energy issues extend across different industries.

“The successful applicants clearly demonstrated real innovation and showed just how the right use of data and technology can make a significant difference to businesses. We now look forward to working alongside them to deliver successful outcomes.”

There are still further opportunities to get involved with the Made Smarter Innovation challenge. The MSI Digital Supply Chain Innovation Hub is open here for expressions of interest to run supply chain test beds. The next collaborative R&D funding opportunity will also be launching in January 2023, offering a combined £6m for industrial readiness robotics innovation projects within manufacturing operations. More information on the MSI challenge can be found here.


This post is based on a press release issued by UK Research & Innovation

Photo: Simon Spinks by Richard Walker/ImageNorth