Summer Placements - Factory 2050

One of our third-year students, Tom Helliwell, undertook a placement last year at Factory 2050 for three months. This is something we encourage all our students to do so that they can get experience of working in different industrial environments.

A photo of IDCMC building

Why did you want to do an internship?

My project is part of the ‘Industrie 4.0’ paradigm, and the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) Integrated Manufacturing Group, which is based at Factory 2050, is one of the leading industrially-facing research groups for this area. I thought that I would benefit from seeing what their state-of-the-art was, the technologies used and the themes that they are focused on.

There are also softer aspects, such as meeting other engineers in this area and developing some contacts for the EngD itself. After completing the first year of the EngD, it seemed like an excellent time to add practical understanding to the theory that I had been studying in the mini-projects.

What project did you work on?

I worked on a project developing an instance of a cyber-physical system (CPS), using an Arduino-embedded computer. This was connected to a legacy machine tool providing a low-cost approach to monitoring machinery for small to medium-sized manufacturing enterprises. This was the foundation of work that became a very popular project in the media and the Factory 2050 stand at MACH 2018.

What skills did you gain from your placement?

For those of us doing an EngD or PhD in this area, any technical knowledge, especially that which extends theory is very important. For the IMG, Industrie 4.0 is a collection of different software technologies used to solve problems in manufacturing. Having access to an AMRC-driven project, expertise in the IMG and the ability to manage the project independently was a great opportunity to learn a great deal very quickly.

There is an inherent networking opportunity when operating in an organisation like the IMG – all colleagues are friendly and extremely helpful, it is teamwork focused and has a flat management structure. I found the way the AMRC scopes and manages projects from different stakeholder perspectives interesting and useful for the management of the EngD.

Would you recommend AMRC placements to other members of the IDC?

It is a resounding yes! I would say almost all of the PhDs or EngDs in the IDC would benefit drastically from a placement in the AMRC and I would expect it to significantly improve their own research.

Links to the project Tom worked on:

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