Combining advanced manufacturing and digital expertise, the two organisations will work together to increase the adoption of industry 4.0 within the UK supply chain, encouraging firms of all sizes to embrace digital manufacturing to boost efficiency and productivity.

Smart factories are highly digitalised and connected production facilities that use a constant stream of data to adapt to new demands.

This brings enormous opportunity for improvement across all stages of manufacture along with back office and supply chain management.

A global leader in technology for industrial automation and digitalisation, Siemens will provide the world leading research centre, located next to Glasgow Airport, with support in kind to the value of £200k per year.

The company will supply innovative software and hardware, in addition to consultancy and access to research, unlocking smart usage of data to improve manufacturing processes.

It will collaborate with the AFRC’s digital manufacturing team, sharing expertise and acting as a testbed for de-risking innovation as firms seek to adopt new technologies.

Siemens technology is already in use across the AFRC’s collaborative research and development projects, including the creation of a digital twin for the whisky cask filling process and a platform offering an industry 4.0 based solution for machinery.

Both Siemens and the AFRC are also collaborating with AFRC Tier One Partner Virtalis.

Together they are engaging with firms across Scotland and using a virtual reality environment to help firms enhance their decision making and plan for the future using digital technology.

Michael Ward, AFRC technical director, said: “As our digital activities have grown, we’ve continued to expand our use of the extensive suite of Siemens software and we’re extremely excited about the new capabilities that this partnership will open up.

“As the manufacturing sector shifts towards a more data-led approach, it’s crucial that we’re working with industry and supporting companies to use digital technology on shop floors to enhance the factories of the future.

“Working with both Siemens and Virtalis, and other relevant AFRC Members and Partners, we are increasingly using innovative technologies within research projects across a range of sectors, while advancing the development of smart factories.”

Alan Norbury, Siemens chief technologist, said: “We’re thrilled to come on board as a Tier One Partner at the AFRC, providing support from software to training, enhancing innovation and cross-sector relationship building across Scotland.

“The early stages of adopting industry 4.0 technology are often where companies hit hurdles. Working in partnership with the AFRC, we’re aiming to help customers accelerate investment cycles with enhanced access to skills, technology, processes and research that will reduce risks associated with investment in smart factories.

“As the partnership evolves, we’re keen to share best practice across sectors, engage with small to medium sized businesses to develop fully connected supply chains, and further invest in software, hardware and training to create a strong infrastructure that will maximise benefits of the technology to accelerate digital manufacturing.”