Heap & Partners discover the value of augmented reality

Founded in 1866, Heap & Partners designs and manufactures industrial valves, instrumentation and associated equipment. Based in Wirral, the company distributes its products to a range of sectors across the UK including oil and gas, chemical, nuclear and life science.

The LCR 4.0 team – a part-funded ERDF support programme for businesses looking to adopt industry 4.0 technologies – introduced Heap & Partners to the Virtual Engineering Centre (VEC) and the Science Technology Facilities Council (STFC) Hartree Centre to test and implement industry 4.0 technology.

The collaboration introduced Heap & Partners to the potential of both augmented reality and additive manufacturing (3D Printing) to create lightweight 3D-printed models of one of its industrial valves so it could easily transport them to and from its customers.

Additionally, LCR 4.0 helped Heap & Partners successfully develop an iOS AR app that can be used in conjunction with the 3D-printed valve. The app can be downloaded onto a smart device, such as a tablet, and pointed at the valve so users can visualise its internal workings and components.

Going forward, Heap & Partners can use the app for maintenance, training, marketing and as a proof of concept before further investments.

Since the collaboration, Heap & Partners has purchased its own 3D printer, and is now looking to employ a graduate to work with the company as part of a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP).

CNC Robotics utilise LCR 4.0 for cloud-based software

CNC Robotics is the UK’s leading robotics integration company specialising in advanced robotics systems for machining. Founded in 2010, the Liverpool-based manufacturer works in a range of sectors including automotive, aerospace and creative.

Last year, CNC Robotics approached business support programme LCR 4.0 and delivery partner Sensor City to design and develop its latest cloud-based software, CNCR-Live. The aim of the device is to help manufacturers boost productivity by increasing the connectivity between digital and automated systems.

Through LCR 4.0 – which is part-funded by ERDF – CNC Robotics was able to access Sensor City’s specialised skills and engineering equipment, including the NI LabView Software Development System, to accelerate the development of the product.

CNC Robotics integrated real-time diagnostic technology into the CNCR-Live software, enabling it to remotely monitor robotic data to predict when maintenance is needed on a machine. This prevents failures in the production process that can cause a slowdown or shutdown and as a result, boosts productivity.

Since the success of the project, CNC Robotics has expanded its team with the appointment of a field service engineer and also a project manager.