Abbey Engineering are based in Knowsley and provide engineering services to a varied customer base within a range of sectors including rail, automotive, energy, chemical, petrol chemicals, pharmaceutical, utilities and food. Their manufacturing services include precision laser cutting; press bake forming of a range of materials using a vast range of tooling to produce components extremely accurately and efficiently.
Abbey Engineering offer manual and CNC milling services for low quantity, prototype machining or production quantities. These services can be combined with CNC turning, using a range of lathe machines to produce different components with a specified tolerance, surface finish and other parameters at economical rates.
Approaching LCR 4.0
The directors and management team at Abbey Engineering are dedicated to provide quality engineering services and are constantly reviewing their business to ensure continuous improvement and support for their workforce, enabling them to be equipped with the correct skills and systems to maximise efficiency and increase productivity. Linking with academic expertise supports the business research and development activities, experience of engaging with previous support projects such as GERI Outreach proved to be successful and Abbey Engineering was keen to be involved in future collaborative opportunities.
Following discussions with LCR 4.0 team and LJMU experts, it was identified that Abbey Engineering could use data analysis to make more informed decisions regarding their manufacturing processes. They currently have a range of different IT systems to manage different areas of the business and are keen to connect these systems to manage as one. This support falls under the 4IR pillars:
- Systems Integration
- Big Data
- Internet of Things
- Cloud Computing
- Cyber Security
An MSc summer project was proposed to Abbey Engineering to look at proving the principles for monitoring machine processes to improve efficiencies in laser cutting process. The MSc project was supervised by the head of the Photonics Research in Manufacturing Engineering at LJMU, Dr. Martin Sharp, and resulted in a final report being delivered to Abbey Engineering to support their decision making process for purchasing new equipment.
Working into the future
Abbey Engineering are now able to utilise data previously gathered to look at inefficiencies in their laser cutting process. Parameters for the laser cutting process have been optimised to improve manufacturing throughput and reduce waste parts. The report provided valuable information to enable Abbey Engineering to make more informed decisions when considering the purchase of a new multi-million pound laser system currently being installed at their manufacturing plant.
Recommendations were made for Abbey Engineering to look at software solutions to nest multiple components in a new innovative way to make more cost-effective decisions and improve process efficiencies.
The LCR 4.0 team will continue to work with Abbey Engineering on developing a fully automated system linking accounting software to production control. Abbey Engineering will be implementing more connected systems in their manufacturing operations and require support around cyber security issues.
Mark Dawson, Operations Director, The Abbey Group commented:
“The support we received from LCR 4.0 has enabled Abbey to use data in a ‘smart’ way and make informed decisions regarding our manufacturing operations. This is just the start of our journey towards implementing 4IR solutions to transform our manufacturing operations in order to increase productivity and we look forward to the continued support from the LCR 4.0 team to help us reap the rewards of 4IR in a practical way, and help us remain as competitive as ever in the global market.”