Cluster Aimed at Increasing Competitiveness of Manufacturing SMEs Launched at AIT

07 July 2021

A new cluster aimed at accelerating the digital transformation and growth of Irish manufacturing SMEs has launched at Athlone Institute of Technology.

The Advanced Technologies in Manufacturing Cluster (ATIM) will help companies increase their productivity and efficiency by taking advantage of advanced technologies, such as automation and machine learning, along their value chain.

The adoption of these advanced technologies will be critical to maintaining a competitive manufacturing sector and supply chain in the future, Caitríona Mordan, the cluster’s education and outreach manager, explains.

“In the Western world, where the cost of labour is high, the only way for companies to compete with countries with low-cost labour is through highly sophisticated, automated processes, namely smart manufacturing.”

“The newly formed ATIM Cluster will be key to unlocking the region’s latent manufacturing potential by accelerating the adoption of Industry 4.0 technologies and increasing growth potential through its services.”

ATIM will build on the Midlands’ strong manufacturing and ICT base, helping companies improve their products and services, which will, in turn, ensure their competitiveness, provide high-value employment and grow exports.

“Dynamic industry-led clusters have proven, in many parts of the world, to benefit their members in terms of lower transaction costs, quicker negotiations, fewer delays, improved tacit information flows and the ability to influence their supporting infrastructure,” Caitríona says.

“This cluster is a great opportunity for the SMEs and the region, but it must work collectively, engage meaningfully to deliver a strategic work plan that member companies drive.”

ATIM, which has received €377,520 from Enterprise Ireland’s Regional Technology Clustering Fund, will first connect and engage companies to identify their commonalities and pain points before assisting them in figuring out how they might best work together to win business in global markets.

Through the cluster, AIT will also be better equipped to respond to the talent and skills needs faced by SMEs in embedding advanced technologies into operations in all aspects of digital transformation, Dr Seán Lyons, Dean of Faculty of Engineering and Informatics at AIT and a member of ATIM’s ignition team, explains:

“AIT is home to two Enterprise Ireland-funded gateways, COMAND and APT, which represent the convergence of the technologies underpinning industry 4.0.”

“With a wealth of experience to draw from, we are uniquely situated to host the ATIM Cluster and assist Irish manufacturing SMEs in their digital transformation. This capacity will further increase as we look ahead to opening our doors as Ireland’s newest technological university this autumn.”

Andrew Lynch of Irish Manufacturing Research (IMR) added: “The advent of industry 4.0 means that skills needs are rapidly changing. We will work closely with service providers to identify pain points and put services in place to enable companies to proactively respond to the skills faced by embedding digital technologies into business.”

The kick-off session, held Tuesday 6th July, introduced industry in the Midlands to the cluster and its plans to support the digital transformation and growth of manufacturing SMEs, software companies, and digital enterprises.

Athlone Institute of Technology is a research-led third-level institute with an applied, industry-focused offering, world-class research and development capabilities, and state-of-the-art facilities. Winner of The Sunday Times Institute of the Year 2020 and 2018, AIT is Ireland’s top-ranked institute of technology and is on track to open its doors as the country’s third technological university in autumn 2021.

AIT tops Ireland’s official league table for research and was listed in U-Multirank’s Top 25 Performing Universities in the World for Interdisciplinary Research in 2018 and 2019.

Source: Irish Tech News