Software firm Valuechain has worked with the Virtual Engineering Centre to launch a virtual smart factory aimed at encouraging SME manufacturers to embrace new digital technologies.

The DNA4.0 Smart Factory will create a virtual rendering of a state-of-the-art connected factory that utilises the latest digital manufacturing technologies and demonstrates best practice use cases of Industry 4.0 technologies.

The LCR4.0-funded project will be launched at the Manufacturer Live in Liverpool on 15th November.

"The DNA4.0 Smart Factory will engage manufacturing SMEs and encourage first steps towards a digital manufacturing strategy," said Valuechain chief executive Tom Dawes.

"By embedding the basic building blocks for manufacturing digitalisation, SMEs can free up valuable resource to focus on more advanced technologies.

"However, many SMEs lack the resource to experiment with new technologies that may not generate tangible return on investment.

"We are confident that by creating this immersive industry 4.0 experience, SME business leaders will be enthused by the tangible benefits of digital transformation, which will accelerate industry 4.0 adoption and improve UK productivity."

The smart factory will use virtual reality to demonstrate the impact of digitalisation on an SME's valuechain. It follows the journey from sales, engineering, purchasing and raw materials stores through to production, inspection, finished goods stores and customer delivery. 

The immersive platform also showcases latest advanced manufacturing technologies that Valuechain have implemented with businesses such as Airbus and Bentley Motors.

Dawes added: "We are confident that DNA4.0 can address the digital manufacturing skills shortage by making manufacturing and STEM courses much more attractive to school pupils, apprentices and undergraduates.”

Lynn Dwyer from the VEC said: "The DNA4.0 Smart Factory is a great example of how the VEC is supporting innovative businesses to embrace new digital technologies through the LCR4.0 programme.

"Our strategic partnership with Valuechain has enabled us to bridge the gap between emerging technologies and real-world manufacturing. We are excited that the virtual factory experience, will engage users at all levels, and the potential impact on schools, colleges and universities.”

The DNA4.0 Smart Factory will be demonstrated at upcoming exhibitions, and will be available for the first time on the Invest Liverpool stand at Smart Factory Expo on 15th November.