Kevin Edwards, General Engineering Manager at Sony UK Technology Centre, considers how the latest tech is driving innovation at the company’s South Wales facility where 600 highly skilled team members help to create some of the most advanced technology on the global market.
Sony UK Technology Centre has always aimed to be at the forefront of manufacturing innovation and we have consistently championed Industry 4.0 and pushed the boundaries of technological advancement.
Of course, there’s no way of discussing progressive manufacturing techniques without mentioning new digital industrial technology.
Here at Sony UK TEC, we’ve fully embraced manufacturing automation and advancement, enabling us to produce industry-leading innovations such as broadcast and 4K cameras, the Raspberry Pi, and a host of international third-party products.
So, with the launch of Wales Tech Week 2020, we wanted to share our industry expertise and look back at some of the most pivotal technology which has shaped manufacturing globally.
Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)
The IIoT has been game-changing for sectors globally and is something which we at Sony UK TEC have keenly embraced.
The introduction of IIoT has enabled manufacturers to become more efficient, productive, risk averse, financially savvy, and innovative – the potential here is truly endless! Benefits to manufacturers are its ability to collect and analyse data in real time, helping to pre-empt system failures and maintenance, enhance safety measures, and track supply chains.
Here at Sony UK TEC, we have adopted IIoT across a number of our departments and it has had an outstanding effect on how the business functions. We are continuously looking for new ways to maximise the effectiveness of our processes, and these devices have enabled our manufacturing output and cost effectiveness to exceed our previous performance bench marks.
Providing our engineers with the real-time data needed to make quick and effective decisions on the line, has made a phenomenal difference to our manufacturing processes.
The benefits to so-called “lights out” operations are significant, they increase productivity, limit human error, perform lengthy repetitive tasks, and are able to work 24/7 allowing them to become more cost effective and competitive in the market.
Discussion around robotics inevitably spark fears of job losses, however we’ve consistently seen robotics used efficiently alongside human operators and engineers, with robots performing high volume production, enabling operators to focus on the more complex, high value tasks. Implementation of robotics, working in collaboration with operators, results in an improved workflow, reduced build time and maintains quality standards.
Robotics are undoubtedly being utilised to maximum effect right now, as manufacturers attempt to maintain production volumes during the coronavirus pandemic. And there is no doubt that they will play a key role in adapted manufacturing processes going forwards.
3D printing/Additive Manufacturing
Creating a customised product or prototype has never been so easy, and additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, has been ground-breaking in providing greater accessibility and simplifying manufacturing at all levels. From creating a prototype to spare parts, we’ve been really excited by the possibilities!
Where previously traditional manufacturing methods would be required to create a product by cutting away excess material, and ultimately creating waste. Additive manufacturing adds the layers which are needed to create the end product – which enhances efficiency and productivity.
And in an industry where prototyping, cost-effectiveness, waste reduction and customisation are crucial, you can see why additive manufacturing has rightly been utilised so frequently.
At Sony UK TEC, we have adopted this innovative process into our R&D procedures, which has enabled us to become more innovative, flexible, and competitive.
About the author
Kevin Edwards is the General Engineering Manager at Sony UK Technology Centre, in a career spanning more than 30 years. The site produces Sony’s 4k cameras- the latest in broadcast technology as well as working on third-party collaborative manufacturing on products including the UK’s best-selling computer, the Raspberry Pi.