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· Additive manufacturing was upped during the COVID-19 pandemic to make ventilators, however when production was up so were the number of cyber-attacks
· In order to continue production without disruption new technologies are needed, which researchers from WMG, University of Warwick aim to deliver thanks to a grant from EPSRC
· Working with partners the new technologies developed will secure the supply chain in case of another global threat
The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted just how vulnerable UK manufacturing supply chains are, as there was an increase in the volume of cyber-enabled attacks on cyber-physical systems. There is therefore an urgent need to develop technologies and methods to support disruption-resilient manufacturing.
This has been made possible, thanks to over £1 million of funding from the EPSRC, which will enable Dr Greg Gibbons, Prof Carsten Maple and Dr Greg Epiphaniou from WMG, and other colleagues from Henley Business School and Surrey Business School, to research into disruption-resilient-manufacturing.
Their project, entitled, ‘Responsive Additive Manufacturing to Overcome Natural and Attack-based disruption (RAMONA)’, will address the need and opportunity for the UK to become global leaders in responsive manufacturing, taking advantage of the opportunities presented by UK strengths in Additive Manufacturing.
The importance and limitations of responsive manufacturing systems – those that are able to respond to minimise the impact of a disruption – in the UK have been brought to the fore by COVID-19. Traditional supply chain weaknesses have been exposed, creating a ‘watershed’ moment for additive manufacturing, which could be used to complement existing manufacturing supply chains and embed resilience within them.
This was evidenced by the Ventilator Challenge UK, where additive manufacturing was a key technology in supporting the production of thousands of ventilators for the NHS within 12 weeks.
Additive Manufacturing has particular strengths in supporting distributed manufacturing, on-demand production, and rapid development and approval of component design. However, this type of responsive manufacturing capability is uncommon and requires further development before it can be embedded as an industry wide capability.
This will be achieved by addressing the following challenges:
– How to develop effective techniques to detect disruption
– How to effectively and accurately analyse the disruption; and
– How to respond to disruption through reconfigured manufacture.
Dr Greg Gibbons, Reader in Additive Manufacturing in WMG at Warwick, comments:
“This award is an exciting opportunity to engage in this timely and highly impactful research. It will enable us to develop the technologies required by UK manufacturing to ensure robust and reliable supply chains that can respond rapidly and optimally to disruptive threats, making a real difference to the security of supply when faced with global threats such as we have seen during the COVID Pandemic.
“It is fantastic to be able to collaborate with scholars, as well as leading organisations across a range of industries including automotive, defence, security and healthcare in developing solutions to the key challenges facing manufacturing today.”
Dr Gibbons will be working alongside colleagues from WMG, Henley Business School, University of Reading, and Surrey Business School at the University of Surrey. They will also be working with multiple project partners from industry, including Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust and Thales Ltd.
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