Funded Networks in Re-distributed Manufacturing

The drive towards smaller-scale local manufacturing caused by changes in transport and labour costs the availability of materials and energy, the need for sustainability, the availability and cost of small-scale equipment, and access to information has led to EPSRC's Manufacturing the Future theme and ESRC's strategic priority for Economic Performance and Sustainable Growth identifying Re-Distributed Manufacturing (RDM) as an area for research investment to help realise the opportunities of RDM for the UK.

Re-distributed Manufacturing has a broad working definition of Technology, systems and strategies that change the economics and organisation of manufacturing, particularly with regard to location and scale.

Following a workshop and sift panel six networks were funded, each of which were awarded approximately £500,000 for two years. Each network is expected to support up to 4-6 feasibility studies as well as engage with the relevant stakeholders in order to achieve the most impact.

The six funded networks are as follows:

RDM in Healthcare Research Network (UWE) - Dr Phillips

RDM may change the delivery of healthcare products, enhancing national competitiveness and citizen well-being. There are key challenges in realising these benefits including regulatory standards, new training patterns and quality assurance. RiHN aims to explore these challenges using a multi-disciplinary approach and by engaging with the relevant academic and user communities through workshops, events and feasibility studies.

RECODE Consumer Goods, Big Data and Re-Distributed Manufacturing (Cranfield) - Dr Charnley

RECODE Consumer Goods, Big Data and Re-Distributed Manufacturing aims to develop a multi-disciplinary vision and research agenda associated with the application of big data in the transition towards a RDM model for consumer goods. Improved understanding of skills and training required for interpreting big data and transforming industries will ensure that the UK can take full advantage of opportunities for job creation.

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Re-Distributed Manufacturing Networks | The Role Of Makespaces (RCA) - Professor Sharon Baurley

The main aim of the Network is to develop a shared multi-disciplinary vision and research agenda for the role of makespaces in RDM. A makespace is a catch-all term for an open access community fabrication workshop. The network will require a broad range of expertise from both academics and industrialists, including SME manufacturing businesses, waste management and recycling companies and the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA).

3DP-RDM: Defining the research agenda for 3D printing enabled re-distributed manufacturing (Cambridge) - Dr Tim Minshall

The 3DP-RDM network will define the research agenda for 3D printing (3DP) enabled RDM. The economics of 3D printing, protection of intellectual property and competitive advantage, manufacturing issues, education and skills issues, and manufacturing standardisation have been identified as areas needing further exploration. The outputs of the feasibility studies will provide insight into sector-specific features of 3DP technologies that help enable RDM, and the barriers preventing their wider diffusion.

Building sustainable local nexuses of food, energy and water: From smart engineering to shared prosperity (The Local Nexus Network) (Oxford) - Dr Aidong Yang

Local nexuses, focusing on sustainable local alignment of resources, production and consumption are a special chapter of RDM. Through collaborative engagement between engineering and social sciences, the network will carry out feasibility projects and events to (i) establish the technical and socio-economic state-of-the-art of local productions of food, energy and water, (ii) generate initial insights for guiding researchers, businesses, policy makers and communities who are enthusiastic about exploring the potential of local nexuses, (iii) develop an evidence-based research agenda, (iv) form an inclusive research and stakeholder community, and (v) inform other related research on RDM.

Re-Distributed Manufacturing and the Resilient, Sustainable City (ReDReSC) (Bristol) - Professor Chris McMahon

This network will explore the impact of RDM at the scale of the city and its hinterland, using Bristol as an example and concentrating on the issues of resilience and sustainability. The network aims to explore mechanisms by which interdisciplinary teams may come together to address societal grand challenges and develop research agendas for their solution. These will be based on working together using a combination of a Collaboratory - a centre without walls - and a Living Lab - a gathering of public-private partnerships in which businesses, researchers, authorities, and citizens work together for the creation of new services, business ideas, markets, and technologies.