Approaching LCR 4.0
LPW has developed an industry leading metal additive manufacturing solution called PowderLife. As part of this solution a new method for the transportation and storage of metal additive manufacturing powders has been developed to ensure full material traceability throughout the production process. LPW has developed an loT device to monitor the PowderTrace hoppers environment and interface with the PowderLife platform during storage, transportation and ongoing production usage.
LPW wanted to assess the prototype developed and identify strengths, opportunities and limitations of the solution when applied to a production scenario.
The Virtual Engineering Centre (VEC) assessed the flexibility of the development for integration and adaptation into existing and possible future industrial production environments.
Together the VEC and LPW reviewed available communication technologies and protocols for suitable for large-scale data handling of information transmitted from sensors developed by LPW and integrated into the Powder Trace hoppers.
The VEC ensured the data LPW collects can be stored in the Cloud Computer and accurate data collected in real-time.
As part of the investigation, the VEC advised LPW Technology on the development of new asset tracking and monitoring hardware forming part of their PowderTrace technology. The VEC provided a critical review and validation of the prototype hardware solutions and highlighted opportunities to improve the endurance and reliability of the device using wireless charging technologies and alternative communication protocols.
The project highlighted the opportunities for the integration of the hardware, new sensor development and data collection to streamline industry production processes.
The VEC completed a number of test set ups from testing radio operation to evaluating different data structures to optimise data collection and analysis to enable real-time decision making in the production environment.
Working into the Future
Combining the breadth and depth of technical capability in both VEC and LPW to conceptualise, model, design and test brand-new approaches to real industrial situations, this project highlights the impressive Industry 4.0 capability within the North West. By partnering with the VEC at the early stages of developing the PowderTrace solution, LPW has a proof-of-concept to support the implementation of a data-rich solution for industry-wide application. The opportunity to model and test will help LPW in the future to ensure that the technology they select makes use of the most appropriate protocols for collecting and handling large volumes of complex data.
LPW is considered to be one of the fastest-growing SMEs within the Liverpool City Region, winning the prestigious Queen’s Award for Enterprise in International Trade 2016 and opening a purpose-built, metal powder manufacturing facility in Widnes.
The support we received from the Virtual Engineering Centre has helped us to ensure that our prototype systems are well designed and we are aware of a number of bespoke solutions moving forward as a business.
Metal additive manufacturing is undergoing a phase of rapid growth as industry adopts this technology from the prototyping stage to mainstream production. Through IoT real-time data collection and analytics, the investigative work undertaken with the VEC will support LPW Technology in improving manufacturing productivity and sustainability throughout a number of processes as industrial adoption of metal Additive Manufacturing continues.Dr Nicola Jones, Marketing Manager LPW Technology
- Date: Spring 2020
- Tech: Big data, Cloud computing, Internet of things, Sensor technology, Systems integration
- Sector: Solution Provider Industry 4.0