A YORKSHIRE university aims to use data and digital connectivity to support revolutionary changes in the region’s manufacturing sector.
The University of Huddersfield has established a Digital Enablers’ Network (DEN) which is working with local manufacturing firms to make them more competitive in global markets.
The university is forging strong ties with businesses, including enterprises run by former students, through its 3M Buckley Innovation Centre.
James Devitt, the university to industry programme manager and 3M Buckley innovation centre business development manager, said the large scale automation of processes using artificial intelligence are leading to major improvements in productivity.
“The University of Huddersfield is proud of its close association with industry and manufacturing,’’ Mr Devitt said.
“It has built strong capabilities in a range of new industrial digital technologies, centred around its Centre for Industrial Analytics (CIndA). It has taken a practical, industry led, approach to supporting local and regional companies with the adoption of these technologies including artificial intelligence.”
Mr Devitt said CIndA provides “wrap around” expertise in industrial analytics. It also encourages collaboration with other specialist technology or digital enabling companies and industry. Professor Richard Hill and Mr Devitt created DEN to make the most out of these relationships.
Mr Devitt said he was working with a number of DEN members, including Panintelligence, an analytics software developer, to help local manufacturing firms embrace digital innovation.
Mr Devitt added: “We are arguably in the midst of a revolution in manufacturing powered by data and connectivity.
“The large scale automation of processes using AI and analytics, for example, are paving the way for significant improvements in productivity and will make firms which adopt greater digital technologies and analytics competitive in a rapidly changing global marketplace.
“We are on a mission to bring this about here in West Yorkshire.”
Panintelligence’s CEO, Zandra Moore, is a former student at the university.
She said: “There are so many opportunities for us to collaborate across, technology, research, business networks, leadership and talent.”
Jill Johnes, professor of production economics at the university, said: “We are always pleased to work with businesses in developing our curricula, engaging students or undertaking joint research.
“It is particularly pleasing when the business is headed by one our alumni. Zandra is an excellent role model for our students in so many ways and we are absolutely delighted that she will be working closely with us.”
The university is now offering a BSc in business data analytics at undergraduate level and an MSc in business intelligence and analytics for postgraduate students.
Ms Moore recently visited the university alongside another successful entrepreneur, Tro Manoukian, who is the CEO of Silk Industries, which is a group of textile companies making high quality silk products. Mr Manoukian, who is also an alumni of the university, is working with Panintelligence on the digital transformation of his business.
Mr Devitt added: “The visit was highly successful and has led to both companies exploring a range of opportunities for collaboration with the university.”