Transcript for Manufacturing the Future Conference 2015 - Interview with Professor Mike Jackson

Manufacturing the Future Conference 2015 - interview with Professor Mike Jackson

My names is Professor Mike Jackson, I’m Professor of Machine Systems at Loughborough University.  I’m a Director of an EPSRC Centre in Intelligent Automation.

Intelligent Automation as we define it is actually a blend of skilled human worker and robots working together cooperatively, in that way the human worker gets more output and hopefully productivity will increase, exports will increase and as a consequence we will have a stronger economy. 

The highlights are numerous, but a couple that really stand out are the way that the EPSRC Centre works with high value manufacturing catapults, namely in this case, the Manufacturing Technology Centre, and the way the engineers and researchers work together as a common team.  They also work together with industry engineers that are embedded from companies like Rolls-Royce and they work together as a truly integrated project team.

Currently we have created an automated welding system which actually can cope with variation in product fit up, in the same way as the skilled human worker could.  So that’s actually taking a lot of stress now to the job. Freeing up the worker to actually concentrate on the more difficult welding applications and makes the whole job more productive.

The main reason for doing all this is to increase productivity, improve competitiveness, allow the UK companies to export more, to bring production back to the UK, also called on shoring or bring back, and that way there will be less manufacturing taking place overseas and more of it back in the UK. But the jobs that are actually created are high tech jobs and part of the rationale for all this is to retrain some of the skilled works so that it can actually work cooperatively with these new generation of robots ,which have yet to be created, and these will be co-workers who are not as intelligent as a human being, not as capable, but actually capable of working and assisting human beings so that the productivity levels increase.