Twelve manufacturers from across Northern Ireland who have been selected to embark on the FutureScope Smart Manufacturing Experiment programme had an unusual visitor for their opening session – Spot, the robotic dog!

Created by Boston Dynamics, Spot was in attendance at the Ormeau Baths event to showcase the Leica BLK ARC, an autonomous laser scanning module for robots.

When integrated with robotic carriers, the BLK ARC enables autonomous mobile laser scanning with minimal or no human intervention.  The combined technology can enable manufacturers to get a constantly updated 3D view of dangerous or difficult to reach sites and allows factories to be managed remotely, much more efficiently.

Delivered by Digital Catapult as part of the Smart Nano NI consortium, the new FutureScope Smart Manufacturing Experiment programme will see participating companies take part in a series of accessible learning sessions over 12 weeks.  Local manufacturers will start to gain the necessary skills and knowledge to introduce the technologies, tools and techniques of Industry 4.0 in their workplace.

Brendan Lowry, Innovation Partner from Digital Catapult said:

“Across sectors including food, health, building and aerospace, Northern Ireland manufacturers are really seizing the moment to take advantage of the opportunities which smart technologies have to offer them.

Manufacturers here are encountering a number of challenging issues which smart technologies can help with, including energy efficiency, enhanced visibility of the manufacturing process, improved analysis of data, reducing manufacturing costs, optimising processes to deliver products more quickly and supply chain management and inventory issues.

With our access to industry expertise and equipment Digital Catapult is perfectly positioned, along with our fellow Smart Nano NI consortium members, to offer manufacturers here the space, time, knowledge and insight they will need to find a prototype smart technology solution which will help to address any challenges or opportunities they are facing.”

The twelve manufacturing companies participating in FutureScope Smart Manufacturing Experiment are:

Supported by the UK government through UK Research and Innovation’s flagship Strength in Places Fund, participants on the Smart Manufacturing Experiment programme will learn about the basic principles and functionality of cutting-edge Smart Technologies, their use-cases and market potential.

Expert technologists from Digital Catapult and Smart Nano NI will support participants with feedback on feasibility and practical requirements to ensure graduates’ outcomes are targeted and actionable.

Over the next five years, Smart Nano NI will develop game-changing advanced prototyping and smart manufacturing methods to deliver new technologies, supporting innovation-led economic growth, both in the area and nationally, as well as enhancing local research and innovation collaborations.

For further information on Digital Catapult NI, visit or follow @DigiCatNI on Twitter.

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