Made Smarter - Rutland Plastics and Industry 4.0

In the realm of manufacturing, the term "Industry 4.0" has become ubiquitous, signalling a new era of industrial revolution through digitalisation, automation, and connectivity. While large corporations have been quick to adopt these transformative technologies, the importance of Industry 4.0 for SMEs is increasingly critical.

At Rutland Plastics, we embarked on our Industry 4.0 journey a few years ago. Implementing Industry 4.0 technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and advanced robotics has enabled us to optimise our production processes. By automating repetitive tasks through the use of cobots, for example, we have streamlined our operations. Additionally, advanced manufacturing systems equipped with flexible robotics and additive manufacturing capabilities allow for rapid prototyping and agile production. However, Industry 4.0 is not just about adopting new technologies; it's also about fostering a culture of innovation and continuous improvement. Remote monitoring and control capabilities enable us to manage operations remotely, further enhancing efficiency and flexibility.

Furthermore, Industry 4.0 technologies support sustainable manufacturing practices by optimising resource utilisation, reducing waste, and minimising environmental impact. By embracing sustainability as a core value, we can help to future-proof our businesses and contribute to a more resilient and sustainable economy.

To strengthen our commitment to Industry 4.0, we decided to join Made Smarter, a national movement backed by the UK government aimed at empowering the growth of UK SME manufacturers by accessing technology and digital skills. As part of this initiative, we participated in a digital transformation workshop, which resulted in the development of a digital transformation strategy, review and roadmap. The conclusion of the review can be found below - needless to say, we're pleased that our efforts over the past few years have been recognised, but there is always more to do.

Current digital readiness review - Made Smarter
‘’Rutland Plastics has distinguished itself in digital transformation, achieving an impressive score of 7 on the PAS1040 digital maturity scale, which is a close representation of reality.  This score reflects their near-optimal integration of digital technologies across their operations, from advanced automation in their production lines to the implementation of sophisticated data analytics for predictive maintenance and quality control.

Despite this high level of digital sophistication, Rutland Plastics remains committed to continuous improvement, seeking out the latest innovations in smart manufacturing and Industry 4.0 technologies.  Their journey has not only enhanced operational efficiency and product quality but also significantly reduced environmental impact through optimised resource use and waste reduction.  By prioritising investment in cutting-edge technologies and fostering a culture of innovation, they not only set a benchmark for the industry but also demonstrate a forward-thinking approach to embracing the potential of digital advancements for sustainable growth and competitiveness’’

The review revealed the need for a more efficient and specialist approach towards tool wear measurement practices. Rutland Plastics has used a fixed-bed CMM machine for years, but using this for tool measurement leads to performance inefficiencies as it requires removing the tool from the moulding machine. Through match-funding by Made Smarter East Midlands we have purchased a new handheld CMM which will enable accurate measurements to be taken in-situ thus reducing machine downtime and improving quality.

Find out more about Rutland Plastics on their member profile page here

Member-created content 2 weeks ago | From members

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