Widnes manufacturer boosts output thanks to EU-funded support programme

Genlab in Widnes is a manufacturer of thermal engineering products and enlisted the help of the University of Liverpool’s Virtual Engineering Centre (VEC) via the LCR 4.0 project. Tony McDonough reports

Genlab
An image from Genlab factory simulation, developed with the Virtual Engineering Centre

 

A Liverpool city region manufacturer is set to increase its annual output by 20% thanks to a pioneering digital technology support programme.

Genlab in Widnes is a manufacturer of thermal engineering products such as industrial ovens, incubators and drying cabinets and sought the help of the University of Liverpool’s Virtual Engineering Centre (VEC) as part of the LCR 4.0 project.

Virtual simulation

Working closely with VEC experts, the firm created a virtual simulation of its entire factory floor to examine whether or not a change in the machine layout and floor plan could increase efficiency.

As a result, Genlab has reduced the assembly time of each product by 30 minutes through optimising the factory layout and changing the position of its machinery and staff. This has enabled the company to boost its overall productivity by 5%, with the potential to increase its annual output by 20%.

Supply chain

LCR4.0 – which is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund – is delivered in partnership by the VEC, Liverpool John Moores University, Sensor City, STFC Hartree Centre and the Liverpool City Region LEP.

Data collected from the simulation will enable Genlab to further enhance its operations with supply chain partners and reduce lead times with its customers. The company can also use the tool on an ongoing basis to visualise and predict the consequences of staffing shortages on weekly production.

Specialist knowledge

Phil Crompton, finance director at Genlab, said: “Before approaching the LCR 4.0 project, we knew the impact that new technologies could have on a business, but we lacked the capacity and specialist knowledge to explore what exactly it could mean for us and how we could harness it.

This collaboration has enabled us to review our internal structure quickly and easily, without risk or interruption to our daily operations. Factory simulation has validated our ambitions to grow the business and our presence in Widnes and the wider Liverpool city region.”

Dr Andy Levers, technical director at the VEC and LCR 4.0 lead, added: “The work with Genlab is a great representation of how traditional manufacturers can benefit from new digital technologies, without having to make a huge investment.

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