An established manufacturer of laser and tooled cutting equipment with over 50 years’ trading experience, Blackman and White were exploring routes to future-proof its technology in the context of Industry 4.0. Identifying an opportunity to revolutionise their existing cutter firmware, the company connected with Essex academics to discuss cutting edge techniques for cutting edges.
As the only UK manufacturer of laser cutting equipment, Blackman and White were uniquely placed to capitalise on innovative technological enhancements within the global market context.
The company projected a market opportunity worth in excess of £10m over a five-year period from a successful KTP.
"The KTP with Essex has had a huge impact on our business. We knew we needed to future-proof our unique offering and being able to tap into the University knowledge base and gain financial support through the funding from Innovate UK has meant we've been able to do just that. I would recommend any business looking to innovate to get in touch with the team at Essex."
Essex academics Dr John Woods and Dr Vishwanathan Mohan from the School of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering, teamed up to tackle a complex project requiring expertise across the topics of kinematics, firmware design for robotic control, data visualisation and software engineering, combined into a multi-faceted academic approach.
Academic input has shaped the direction of the project into a phased approach. Initially, the project focused on overhauling and optimising the existing, overly complex firmware underpinning Blackman and White’s product range. Latterly, additional subjects such as data visualisation and machine learning for predictive maintenance have become more prominent in the research agenda.
The project has already rolled out revolutionary new firmware to Blackman and White’s existing machinery deployed all over the world. This firmware is improving machinery efficiency and cut speed, delivering increased accuracy for clients and extending runtime and reliability for operators.
Over £1m in revenue has been generated in sales of new-generation cutting machines augmented by the novel software and firmware delivered by the KTP project. A variety of other innovations, including an Industry 4.0-equipped dashboard and remote error logging functionality, are due for delivery by the end of the project.
The KTP between Essex and Blackman & White is so successful it’s been rated as “outstanding” by Innovate UK’s national KTP grading panel – the highest grade possible.
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