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Prof. Xun Xu & Dr. Jan Polzer - Lab for Industry 4.0 Smart Manufacturing Systems

Prof. Xun Xu & Dr. Jan Polzer - Lab for Industry 4.0 Smart Manufacturing Systems

Digital Manufacturing Light - A Tailored Approach to Improve the Productivity of SME's

NZ’s Weak Productivity

New Zealand’s productivity performance, particularly in the manufacturing sector, is weaker than other advanced economies. The Prime Minister’s Luxon’s maiden speech[1]1 explains that “[we] are underpowered because our economy for the last 30 years has been suffering from a productivity disease.” The speech referred to the opportunity for automation technologies, like smart manufacturing, to make us work smarter and seriously improve competitiveness and productivity.1

Three Prohibiting Barriers of SMEs

Smart Manufacturing, in its broadest terms, refers to the application of digital information for the enhancement of manufacturing processes, supply chains, products, and services. 96% of New Zealand manufacturers are SMEs[2]. Often, the global trend of adopting advanced technologies (e.g. Industry 4.0) proves daunting for many SMEs and their workers. Three prohibiting barriers are identified: Cost, Risk, and Complexity.

Digital Manufacturing Light (DM Light)

Clearly, respective initiatives tailored for NZ SMEs are needed. The Digital Manufacturing Light initiative (DM Light) is inspired by the UK's "Digital Manufacturing on a Shoestring (Shoestring)" programme. It is designed to remove the above-mentioned three barriers.

  • The cost barrieris removed by a low-cost approach;
  • The risk barrier is removed by a non-core systems approach;
  • The complexity barrier is overcome by a requirements development approach that enables companies to 'dip their toe in the water', adopt one digital solution at a time, build up their confidence, and enhance technology and workforce capabilities.

About the Presenters:

Jan Polzer:

Jan is a senior lecturer for Smart Automation at The University of Auckland (Faculty of Engineering) and is also responsible for industrial liaison. One research focus is Industry 4.0, especially Digital Twins and how these technologies can improve the productivity of factories. As most NZ businesses are SMEs, another research focus lies on Digital Manufacturing Light, where specifically the capabilities and constraints of SMEs are considered for developing new solutions to improve productivity. Jan’s passion is solving problems in real production plants through research projects with students and companies.Jan’s many years of experience in solving real-world industrial problems using external researchers have allowed him to accumulate a lot of experience in the on-site integration of new automation solutions, project management and establishing industrial contacts. He has been in the automation and process optimisation business since 2001.

Xun Xu:

Xun Xu is a professor of Smart Manufacturing at the University of Auckland, where he set up the first Industry 4.0 Lab in the country, the Laboratory for Industry 4.0 Smart Manufacturing Systems (LISMS). LISMS operates on the interface between technology development and industry applications. Dr. Xu is a Fellow of the American Society for Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and Engineering New Zealand (EngNZ). In 2020, he was named among of the “20 Most Influential Professors in Smart Manufacturing” by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME). He currently serves as the Scientific Committee Chair-Elect of the North America Manufacturing Research Institution (NAMRI | SME).