Marcus Pollard, Robin Hamer, Gajarajan Sivayogan and Wen Gu have developed a proposal that aims to save money and time by ensuring predictive maintenance of tablet-making machinery.

The UK subsidiary of global Connectivity and Networks component manufacturing specialist HARTING challenged the students to suggest potential applications for their new product MICA.

MICA (Modular Industry Computing Architecture) is an edge computing device that can be digitally retrofitted into existing production facilities as a direct interface to machines.

It provides a bridge between machines and cloud-computing and can be immediately and securely integrated into a production environment for minimal cost, providing continuous data processing and condition monitoring analysis of key operating processes.

The students decided to focus on a pharmaceutical application after being inspired by Marcus’ placement year at a British multinational consumer goods company.

They decided to focus on tablet presses as they are one of the most common pieces of equipment in a pharmaceutical manufacturing environment.

They work by filling a hole – known as a ‘die’ – with a powder and this powder is compressed by two metal punches to form a tablet.

Tablet presses used in manufacturing continuously use multiple dies and punches – collectively known as ‘toolings’ – to achieve high output.

Some tablet presses can produce 229,500 tablets per hour with 32 sets of toolings and, as a result, these punches are under continuous wear and are prone to breakages.

Breakages mean that the tablet press needs to be stopped for maintenance, which costs money. Breakages of the punches could also lead to metal fragments being deposited in the tablet batch, which means the whole batch would need to be disposed of as it would be unsafe.

The Loughborough students’ came up with the idea of tracking the use of these punches and dies via RFID (radio-frequency identification) tags on the tooling that would be scanned by MICA and recorded in a database.

By tagging the tooling and tracking the number of tablets a machine has produced, the wear on the tooling could be continuously monitored so that when this hits a critical point it can alert a staff member via email.

It would let them know that a particular piece of tooling has reached its pre-defined end of operational life and needs replacing, giving its location to allow for minimum downtime.

The proposal also suggests that the tags on the tooling could store information on which machines had used the tooling, which operators had used the tooling, the length of its current life and how many of a particular tooling is in stock.  

Marcus commented: “We hoped this idea would help reduce breakages which in turn would reduce the production downtime meaning lower costs and reduce losses suffered from damaged batches, but also give a full history of the tooling which could provide useful accountability information for the manufacturer and regulatory bodies such as the MHRA [Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency]or FDA [Food and Drug Administration Agency].”  

Howard Forryan, Product Market Specialist at HARTING, said: “HARTING were very impressed by how quickly the students were able to understand the main operating concepts of the MICA edge computing device. 

“For example how best to programme it and download the most appropriate software from HARTING’s online stored range of “Open software” development containers, in accordance with the application requirements. 

“As a result of this specific well-developed and fully-engineered application case solution, HARTING have been able to market this concept to the wider pharmaceutical manufacturing industry.”

This work was conducted as part of our industrial group project scheme, which runs twice a year. If you want to know more about the scheme or our industry-relevant PhD programme and the options available to collaborate contact us.

1.0.0.19

We are a founding member of UK-RAS Network and delighted to have taken part in the first UK-RAS Conference on ‘Robotics and Autonomous Systems’ (RAS 2017). Cohort 2 researcher Rhys Comissiong, Cohort 3 researcher Christos Kouppas and our Centre Manager, Donna Palmer attended the inaugural event.

The conference aimed addressed the synergetic interaction of human and robotic technologies. As robots and agents have begun to enter our everyday lives they begin to do so in an increasingly autonomous way. These increasing levels of interaction will pose serious challenges to the capability of robots to interact with humans in an increasingly autonomous way. The talks were categorised into three general topic areas including 'Assistive robotics' and 'Aerial robotics'. Talks covered a range of application areas from the nuclear industry to health and life sciences.

Oral and poster presentations were given by PhD and early-career researchers from all members of the UK-RAS Network and illustrated the breadth of robotics and AI work taking place across the UK and the fruitful conversations taking place during the breaks demonstrated the importance and relevance of this conference taking place. Prizes were awards for the best presentations and posters, the winners being invited to present at TAROS 2018.

The Image below is of Christos Kouppas presenting his work.

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On the 19th/20th September the Digital Catapult Centre hosted the Entrepreneurship workshop, organised by the Digital Economy Network. Two PhD. students from the CDT-Embedded Intelligence, Orange Gao & Youssef Hamid took part on this experience which was a successful combination of workshops led by Prof. Philip Treleaven, UCL from UCL and practical hand’s one business creation simulations.

The round table workshops focused on entrepreneurship methodologies (Identifying your idea, branding and vision) and skills to acquire (Business model canvas, funding pitches). The PhD entrepreneurial journey was put in perspective by 4 real experience presentations where Ex-PhD students told the stories of their transition from a PhD student to a CEO or Confounders of their businesses.

Participants were encouraged to take a part pf the Dragon's Den competition where teams of 4 to 5 PhD students pitched their new business ideas to the event’s organizational board. The £1000 prize winner idea “Cycle Rack” presented a mobile app offering London cycling commuters a safe and affordable parking spaces. The winning team (pictured below left) included Youssef Hamid - CDT-EI, Alex Owen - Web Science CDT, Yitong Huang - Horizon CDT and Cristina Guerrero - IGGI CDT. The team on the right are Orange Gao - CDT-EI, James Burnett - Horizon CDT, Keisha Taylor - Web Science CDT, Faiza Bukenya (Sustainable Energy Tech PhD Student) - Uni of Nottm, Tugba Gurler (Computer Science PhD Student), Uni of Nottm.

Thank you to Felicia Black for organizing such a successful event and to Prof. Teleaven for bringing the entrepreneurs. You can read more about the Entrepreneurial Workshop on the DEN blog.

Den Enterprise

Welcoming Cohort 4

20 September 2017

Collage2

To welcome our fourth cohort of researchers we held our induction week in the highlands of Scotland. Representatives from cohorts 1, 2 and 3 also attended to meet the incoming cohort and use the remote and idyllic location for a writing retreat.

 

Ssei17

The Digital Economy’s 2017 Summer School was hosted by CDT in Embedded Intelligence at their London Campus, the trendy, forward thinking area of Here East. The theme for this year was “Innovation insights for the digital workforce of tomorrow” and held over three days, 4th-6th July, focused on three stages; learn with seminars, do with workshops and practise with practicals. A breakdown and more details about the Summer School can be viewed here.

Around 75 students from a wide variety of the DEN CDTs attended including Embedded Intelligence, My Life in Data (Horizon), Cloud Computing, Digital Civics, Intelligent Games & Game Intelligence, Media and Arts Technology, Web Science and HighWire as well as having representation from Cyber Security at Royal Holloway. It was great to see everyone instantly getting along and really immersing themselves in their sessions.

There was such a variety going on from panels, speed networking, playing with Lego (we promise there were learning outcomes from this), producing films (watch the film here), pimping out their social media presence, practising their elevator pitch and creating posters. Everyone definitely left that Summer School with new knowledge and a new skill.

With the Olympic Park at our fingertips, some of the students and staff took advantage of our location and were brave enough to slide down the ArcelorMittal Orbit, and I heard of a few early morning swims in the Olympic pool too. Evening events had great views of London skyline, inventions of new drinks (Glushies, appearing in a bar near you soon) and great entertainment.

You can view the tweets from the Summer School using #SSEI17. Our friends at Tableu (who ran a workshop on “The beautiful science of data visualisation”) have prepared a data analysis on the event’s hashtag, which can be viewed here.

The Digital Economy Network would like to thank EPSRC, Professor Paul Conway, Dr Carmen Torres-Sánchez, the Embedded Intelligence CDT Manager Donna Palmer, DEN Manager Felicia Black, Event support and organisers Siobhan Horan and Finn, Loughborough London for letting us takeover their space plus all their lovely staff and all our panellists, guests and attendees for making it such a memorable and fun Summer School.

We celebrated UK Robotics Week 2017 by hosting a brief history of robots in the movies from silent film to the present day. With over 200 tickets reserved the Cope Auditorium at Loughborough University was full. Presented by film expert and comedian Alan Seaman the talk took us from 1927 ‘Maria’ in Metropolis via 1950s servitude robots such as Forbidden Planets ‘Robby the Robot’ and the murderous androids of1970s Westworld and battling ‘Mechagodzilla’ to the comedic relief of ‘R2D2’ and ‘C3PO’ in Star Wars and, a personal highlight, seeing the 1990s robotic ‘Wrong Trouser’ in Nick Park’s second claymation Wallace and Gromit movie. Of course, a talk about robots in film would not be complete without the Iron Giant and Pixar Wall-E.    

forthe live recording of the talk click here and to listen to the BBC Radio interviews with Alan Seaman and Dr Carmen Torres-Sanchez click here

Robots

Part 1

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When I started my PhD two and a half years ago, I would never even imagine that I would be writing those words from Ulsan in South Korea (at that time I did not even know such a place existed). Yet here I am on a three months research placement. This post is a brief recollection of my experiences in South Korea so far.

I arrived in Seoul early morning on a cold January day, and after short and uneventful journey I was sitting on a train going across South Korea to Ulsan. Through the window of a train I couldn’t help but notice how beautiful this country is. Wherever you look you can see hills covered in forests with cities blending between. I felt the beauty is under promoted by Korean modesty which is really a shame because the country is absolutely stunning. Nowadays whenever I travel around Korea I still cannot help myself but look around all the time to admire the views.

Balloons

University is also a nice place to be in. The place I am in is called Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology or in short UNIST. The university is new as it was started only 8 years ago, and building I mostly work in was open no longer than half a year ago. University is located among the hills about 5 km away from closest town but it is well connected to train station and town by numerous buses. Working hours a lot different than in UK, usually students do not come until 10 or 11 am but they stay till very late. When I usually leave at about 9 or 10 pm there are still researchers in the lab.

Another big positive aspect is food. In Korea often food is cooked by restaurant guests on the table in front of them (for example Korean barbecue). In restaurant we went, there was a big table (for about 10 people) and in the middle of the table three spaces for a real charcoal grill, which was brought to us by waitress for us to grill food on. The meat comes in small pieces and is eaten straight from barbecue with variety of sauces and vegetables (including famous Korean Kimchi). Of course there exists restaurants which serve food cooked in kitchen similar to European style restaurants. Also food variety is another point worth mentioning, I did not know you can have chicken in so many different ways before.

Overall the visit is a very positive experience. It is a great insight into Korean culture (and food!) as well as fascinating comparison between European and Asian culture. If you have any questions regarding Korea please feel free to contact me at: p.ladosz@lboro.ac.uk

Part 2

The last blog was mostly focused on Korean culture, food and landscape. In this part, I will focus on outlining the difference between universities20170314 130924in Korea and the UK. I will also talk a little bit about Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST) itself.

There are a few key differences between universities In Korea and in the UK. First of all undergraduate students are expected to do internships in research groups in university. Generally, they are semester (or summer and winter break) lasting. The internships would be very similar to a final year project where the student is working on a small project. Another difference is freedom of choice of modules to study. In the UK, modules (lectures) are generally same for all students on given degree and module choice is limited to choosing one or two extra per semester. In Korea (or at least in most degrees and universities in Korea) about half of the modules is fixed, while students are free to choose the rest. The choice is very broad; to give an extreme example engineering students in UNIST can even pick up an instrument (Piano, violin etc.) learning module. From my brief encounters with students, it appears that such an approach results in very good independence, self-motivation and pro-activity. Finally, master’s and PhD degrees are similar to USA style where both consists of projects and lectures and lasts 2 years and 4 to 5 years respectively.

In recent years Korea started to invest heavily in science and engineering and UNIST is a result of such an investment. As I mentioned in previous post campus is very modern, and laboratories are well equipped. There is a significant amount of funding available for equipment if anything is necessary. In laboratories, equipment is state of the art (for example numerous motion capture systems or top of the range radio based positioning system). High-quality research orientation is also present in very simple and easy to use administrative support tools such as purchasing done with just a credit card. This approach resulted in many famous professors being attracted to UNIST such as Prof. Rodney S. Ruoff.

With capable students and significant available funding, Korea offers a great working environment for academic researchers. This is supported by other positive aspects like good food and excellent landscapes.

If you have any questions regarding Korea please feel free to contact me at: p.ladosz@lboro.ac.uk

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