News

Evonetix and Analog Devices collaborate on third-generation DNA synthesis platform

Evonetix has announced a collaboration with Analog Devices. The companies will work together on the advancement and commercial scale-up of Evonetix’s proprietary microelectromechanical systems (MEMS)-based silicon chips and accelerate the development of Evonetix’s first product, a DNA desktop writer.

Evonetix’s novel silicon chip controls the synthesis of DNA at many thousands of independently controlled reaction sites or ‘pixels’ on the chip surface in a highly parallel fashion. The two companies began working together in January 2019. They agreed to extend the collaboration as Evonetix continues to work with Analog Garage, Analog Devices’ corporate innovation lab, to jointly develop an integrated solution which includes the MEMS platform, an application specific integrated circuit (ASIC) to miniaturise the control electronics, and flow cell. Analog Devices will assist with the commercial scale-up of the technology, and manufacture devices for the desktop DNA writers.

The opportunities available to synthetic biology in areas as diverse as pharmaceuticals and drug discovery, industrial biotech, specialty chemicals, renewables, agriculture and materials science are currently being held back by the ability to create de novo high-fidelity DNA at scale. Evonetix’s DNA synthesis technology, which will be sold to laboratories as a ‘plug and play’ desktop instrument, will synthesise DNA at unprecedented accuracy, scale and speed, accelerating scientists’ ability to use biology on a scale not currently possible and influencing a large impact on global health.

Dr Matthew Hayes, Chief Technology Officer at Evonetix, said: “Collaborating with Analog Devices is a significant step forward in our mission to develop a highly parallel desktop platform to accurately synthesise DNA at scale. The support and expertise of the Analog Garage R&D team has been invaluable in helping us design a complex control ASIC and we now look forward to expanding our collaboration to achieve the commercial scale-up of our platform.”

Pat O’Doherty, Senior Vice President of Digital Healthcare at Analog Devices, added: “Evonetix is a pioneer in reimagining biology and developing a radically different approach to synthesising long-chain DNA at unprecedented accuracy and scale. This collaboration provides Analog Devices with an opportunity to enter the growing synthetic biology market. Our work together is aimed at increasing the speed and reducing the cost of gene assembly to provide novel strategies that can be used to produce affordable medications and treat a wide range of diseases globally.”

Oxfordshire Advanced Skills celebrates a successful first year

The Oxfordshire Advanced Skills training centre is celebrating its one-year anniversary as the first learners in the state-of-the-art Culham-based facility begin their on-the-job training.

OAS, based at Culham Science Centre near Abingdon, offers high quality training for apprentice engineers and technicians at technology businesses in the Thames Valley.

It has already delivered training to more than 90 learners working for more than 20 local businesses, and the team has ambitious plans for the next 12 months to deliver even greater impact into the local engineering industry.

The first cohort of apprentices are now completing their year one assessments before heading back to their employers to begin on-the-job training, while other learners continue to progress through their vocational programmes at the centre which is managed by the Manufacturing Technology Centre.

Meanwhile, the OAS team is getting ready to welcome the latest group of new apprentices on site later this month to begin their training programme.

OAS operations manager Emma Johnstone said the first year had been a testing but rewarding time with some unexpected challenges.

She said, “I’m so proud of what we’ve achieved despite all the extra challenges of the Coronavirus pandemic. Our learners and trainers adapted to the ‘new normal’ so quickly, and as a result we are only a couple of weeks behind our original schedule in spite of the months of disruption.

“Our recruitment team has worked hard to support our record number of applicants through virtual interviews and assessments, and we’re looking forward to welcoming the successful recruits onto the first steps of their apprenticeship journey.

OAS is a partnership between the UK Atomic Energy Authority and the Science and Technology Facilities Council. The two organisations have a history of apprentice training in science and engineering stretching back more than 70 years. The MTC’s Advanced Engineering apprenticeship helps learners develop the skills industry needs to deliver the technologies of the future in the high value manufacturing sector.

Director of Oxfordshire Advanced Skills, David Martin, said, “The opening ceremony seems like yesterday, but here we are a year on. Thanks to the huge efforts of so many people, we have a busy and very successful training centre producing highly skilled technicians. The centre is set to exceed last year’s number of apprentices by a good margin, with an estimated 200 this academic year along with an expanding syllabus.

“This is just the start. We’re already planning the expansion of OAS to new locations across the UK in areas including space, nuclear design, robotics and power engineering. We’re also really pleased that the Government is backing our pilot project to increase diversity in apprenticeships and improve access to people from disadvantaged backgrounds.”

David Hughes, managing director of the Advanced Manufacturing Training Centre said, “It’s been a huge team effort, and this anniversary is a great opportunity to celebrate the contributions of everyone who has supported OAS so far. Together, we’re creating the next generation of future-focused engineering experts. We’d like to thank our new tooling provider, Ceratizit, and our employer partners for their ideas and support. Most importantly, we want to recognise all of our wonderful learners who have been so flexible and committed to their learning despite the challenges this year has thrown at them. We’re so proud to support them to fulfill their potential.”

David Hughes added, “It’s an exciting time at OAS, and we’re looking forward to what the next year will bring. We’re launching a new Level 4 apprenticeship programme next month, an additional cohort of Level 3 apprentices in November, and creating more bespoke short courses in partnership with local employers. In addition, we’re launching a new inclusion programme to help to make engineering a more accessible career path for all.”

More information about training opportunities at OAS can be found at https://www.oas.ukaea.uk/about-apprenticeships/ or by contacting the training team via oasphase2@the-mtc.org.

Businesses interested in becoming an employer partner and working with the OAS to develop future engineering talent, should contact OAS business development manager, Paul Smith, via Paul.Smith2@the-mtc.org or on 07933 397161.

Tailored metrology that hits the spot

So that manufacturers can solve difficult measurement challenges, industrial metrology specialist, The Sempre Group, has introduced several new Novacam 3D metrology systems. The customisable Microcam 3-D and 4-D interferometers come with a variety of non-contact and fibre-based optical probes and scanners, ensuring highly versatile quality control at micron-resolution. Users will be able to acquire dimension, thickness, roughness and defect data even for hard-to-reach spaces such as bores, tubes and edge breaks. All probes are fully configurable for automated inspection, allowing users to introduce cost-cutting and time-saving measures into existing inspection set-ups.

The Sempre Group will offer this new system with multiple product configurations — TubeInspect, EdgeInspect, BoreInspect and SurfaceInspect. For example, TubeInspect, is for internal and external measurement of tubes, and BoreInspect, is for internal measurement of bores and tubes. SurfaceInspect and EdgeInspect, are best used for non-contact metrology of edges and radii. Unlike contact probes, the non-contact probes and sensors used in Novacam’s devices do not wear out, removing the recurring costs of expensive consumables.

Each tool provides thorough 3D measurements, data on high-aspect-ration features, reduced inspection cycle times of up to 100,000 measurements per second and flexible options for evaluating inspected parts. The system’s versatility allows customers to deploy configurations individually or together to best meet requirements.

“When implemented in large scale and high-cost manufacturing processes, Novacam’s designs are incredibly versatile and powerful,” explained Mike G John, head of engineering at The Sempre Group. “Traditionally, parts like landing gears or injector nozzles with narrow internal spaces were very complicated to measure with this level of accuracy — TubeInspect makes it feasible.

“For those in highly regulated industries manufacturing parts with any form of barrel or a narrow cylindrical shape, the level of detail provided by these sensors is unprecedented,” continued Mike G John. “The potential for automated testing and reporting is substantial and could help engineers inspect features previously difficult or impossible to measure to this resolution.”

With a variety of possible measurement set-ups and initial calibration, The Sempre Group can tailor Novacam’s metrology systems to aerospace, automotive, defence, medical technology and electronics applications. The Sempre team offers a full suite of metrology solutions, including software and hardware, and can easily integrate new technology with existing equipment.

RS Components secures accreditation from British Educational Suppliers Association

RS Components (RS) has secured full membership of the British Educational Suppliers Association (BESA), the national trade body for organisations supplying products and services into the UK education sector.

RS has a dedicated team focused on educational activities, supporting young people through the STEM (5 – 18) years to higher education (18+). The company provides resources, products and initiatives, via its online education hub, that have been specifically developed to inspire the younger generation to explore their creativity in these subjects, and perhaps ultimately consider a career in one of the engineering or scientific disciplines.

By securing BESA membership, schools and educational institutions engaging in projects with RS can be assured of the company’s credibility and compliance with a rigorous code of practice that ensures ethical standards are met in key areas such as quality, integrity, transparency and openness, safeguarding and data security, and discriminatory conduct.

James Howarth, Head of Education Strategy – EMEA at RS, commented: “This membership reflects RS’ status as a trusted supplier to the UK schools-education sector and is testament to the extensive STEM programme we have developed over the past two years. As we continue to extend our educational product offer for schools, we will look to develop relationships with organisations similar to BESA across the globe.”

Powelectrics welcome Super Sean to the team!

Powelectrics has extended a very warm welcome to Sean Nelson who joins the company for a project to design and develop a new Project Management System. Sean is a Leeds University student, doing an MEng in Computer Science with Artificial Intelligence … just what Powelectrics needed!

Commenting on the news, Sean said: “I’m passionate about this role because Powelectrics are pursuing technologies that I am personally invested in and enjoy learning about. Using sensors in agriculture, environment and other industries could solve some of the biggest problems we face as humans today. There are few UK companies that are developing software and hardware that is so relevant and important.”

Whilst clearly enthusiastic about his studies, even teaching coding to friends during lockdown, Sean is very much an all-rounder. As well as enjoying success in hackathons, such as FraudWars hosted by Barclays and Simudyne, he has experience in amateur boxing, has played competitive tennis and football and loves kayak polo!

He has also been involved in the scouting movement for many years, most recently fundraising whist home from uni and he loves hiking and camping, especially in Snowdonia.

His work previous work experience includes working with the public and in industry. He is even developing his Spanish language skills and hopes to travel in Spain again soon to practice.

This role was created via the Staffordshire Digital Innovation Partnerships (SDIPs) program, which forges partnerships between Staffordshire SMEs and Staffordshire University, to support the development of new products/ services based on innovative digital technologies.

Welcome to Powelectrics Sean! We look forward to seeing the benefits your project will bring!

Government and industry warned of cyber-security ‘blind spots’

Operational Technology (OT) networks are increasingly vulnerable to cyber-attacks as a result of ‘blind spots’ brought on by digital transformation and IIoT – a new report has warned.

The report, published by Yokogawa UK and titled Industrial Cyber Threats: Processes & Protection for Industrial Control Systems, highlights the vulnerability of OT networks in critical infrastructure and industrial applications, such as utilities and petrochemical plants, energy generation, automated manufacturing, pharmaceutical production, and water networks.

Donal Bourke, Manager New Business & Advanced Solutions at Yokogawa UK & Ireland, says digital transformation and IIoT, while having enormous benefits, if not appropriately designed and managed can simultaneously create an acute danger. “Digitalisation and the adoption of new technologies that facilitate interoperability, information flow and data insight, can create an OT ‘blind spot’ that can be exploited by state-sponsored action or by highly sophisticated lone-wolf hackers. They are increasingly targeting critical infrastructure with attacks that have the potential to disrupt the normal functioning of a society, such as power generation.”

Unlike cyber-attacks on IT systems, attacks on OT networks are of significantly higher concern and can have much graver implications.

Mr Bourke continued: “At one time, industrial environments were considered immune to cyber-attack due to employing techniques such as air-gapping which is the physical isolation of networks. This is no longer the case as digitalisation, which has facilitated the convergence of IT and OT has created a larger threat attack surface for bad actors to gain access to a facility’s integrated control and safety systems.  Today’s hackers recognise the vulnerabilities of OT systems and are actively looking for ways to compromise them.”

The report highlights the fact that OT security is in its infancy compared to IT security, despite the magnified risk, and urges government and industry to take a holistic approach.

Mr Bourke adds: “There is no technology magic bullet that will mitigate the cyber security risk of increasing IT and OT convergence, the threat to control systems and human fallibility. The solution lies in taking a more holistic approach that involves awareness training, risk assessments, the development of OT appropriate policies and procedures, and architecting a system which provides an organisation with a comprehensive Cyber Security Management System.”

Mr Bourke concludes: “Keeping one step ahead of hackers is difficult, not least because cyber threats are continually evolving. Regulation, rightly, looks to maintain the pace but has also made OT cyber security a daunting challenge for most organisations. This report simplifies that problem, bringing together all the information necessary to develop an effective OT Cyber Security Management System.

“No system is impregnable, and vulnerabilities will continue to be discovered across the OT domain. Even with generous investment, no plant can completely eliminate its risk exposure. It stands to reason that a holistic approach to cyber-security is the only way to keep pace with the latest generations of malware tailored to industrial control systems.”

To download a copy of Industrial Cyber Threats: Processes & Protection for Industrial Control Systems, please visit: https://info.yokogawa.eu/acton/media/18463/industrial-cyber-threats-guide.

Improving data collection

Collecting data from devices connected to the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is critical in smart manufacturing. It can help, among other things, monitor the health state of machines, track stock levels and gain precious insight on how to maximise productivity. However, this can only be achieved with comprehensive and accurate data. Here Neil Bellinger, head of EMEA at automation parts supplier EU Automation, explains how to improve data collection.

Despite the potential of IIoT data, most of it is not currently used. For example, the McKinsey Global Institute reported that only one per cent of data from an oil rig with 30,000 sensors is actually examined. The same happens in manufacturing plants across all industry sectors, where only a small amount of collected data is suitable to be processed and analysed.

One of the issues preventing data from being exploited is its quality and accuracy. Data can be incomplete or simply incorrect, for example because it has been manually collected by different people using different methods. So, what can manufacturers do to improve data collection?

Connect

One of the main technical challenges of collecting manufacturing data is that legacy machines, still prevalent in many plants, might not have been equipped with communication capabilities.

These machines often represent a huge investment and form the backbone of the factory, so data coming from them could provide critical information to improve production processes. A standard adapter might not be enough to connect legacy equipment with the IIoT and you might need to employ a systems integrator to create a middle communication layer between new and old machines. However, the possibility of gaining precious information will be worth the investment.

Data from legacy machines can help monitor their health state and warn manufacturers of possible malfunctions, giving them time to order obsolete spare parts and ultimately avoiding or minimising unplanned downtime.

Ditch manual collection

A survey by quality control company InfinityQS queried 260 manufacturers and found that 75 per cent of them were still collecting data manually, with 47 per cent of them using just pencil and paper.

Manual data collection increases the risk of errors because information could be registered incorrectly or completely overlooked. The problem is worsened when several collectors are involved, each with their own method. Moreover, workers might have to walk across the entire factory to collect data from several machines, which is time-consuming and inefficient.

Automating data collection is the key to success. This can be done gradually, implementing software that collects data only from the most critical equipment. Even smaller manufacturers can benefit from this — the increased accuracy of data and the man-hours saved by automating data collection will quickly amortise the investment.

Centralise and increase visibility

Manufacturers who decide to keep collecting data manually should at least have a system in place to centralise that data and make it visible to the relevant people.

Analytics applications such as SensrTrx, for example, can collect data directly from the machines and contextualise it into dashboards divided by job role and function. The cost of kind of solutions is generally remunerated in weeks.

Bridge the IT/OT gap

Sometimes, people on the factory floor are aware of whether the metrics collected by the IT team are accurate or not, but have little knowledge of how to improve the production flow. On the other hand, the IT team has the technical skills to improve operations, but can struggle to understand whether data is accurate.

Bridging this gap can improve data collection. An easy and cost-effective solution is to position a touch screen for data entry directly on the factory floor, so that all employees can input data quickly and easily. The market offers rugged touch screens that are perfect for the hands-on environment of the factory floor.

Improving data collection is often the first step for manufacturers to familiarise themselves with concepts like the IIoT and digitalisation.

Wood and Aspen Technology to deliver predictive maintenance solutions driven by AI

Aspen Technology and Wood have announced a new partnership that will offer Wood’s clients Aspen Mtell asset performance management (APM) technology for predictive and prescriptive maintenance.

The partnership will enable global enterprises to improve the performance of their manufacturing and facility assets through a maintenance solution built upon industrial artificial intelligence and machine learning. Aspen Mtell analyses historical and real-time operational and maintenance data to discover the precise failure signatures that precede asset degradation and breakdowns, predict future failures, and prescribe detailed actions to mitigate problems.

Wood has decades of experience providing solution-independent asset performance consulting, as well as integrating and deploying specialty engineering services and real-time performance monitoring systems. The combination of this deep domain expertise of asset and operator challenges, with AspenTech’s extensive knowledge of the process manufacturing industry and proven AI-driven predictive and prescriptive maintenance solutions, provides a unique customized asset performance management solution for operators’ needs.

“Wood has an extensive understanding of the performance optimisation needs of our clients and realised a unique opportunity to provide a solution to help enhance asset productivity and identify potential issues well ahead of time,” said Prabu Parthasarathy, vice president of Intelligent Operations at Wood.

Darren Martin, CTO at Wood, said “We are excited to bring AspenTech into our strategic partnership ecosystem to unlock innovative technology solutions to solve our clients’ challenges. Aspen Mtell is part of our connected operations and maintenance programs that will allow our clients to detect patterns in operating data, allowing them to take prescriptive action and avoid unplanned downtime. Together, our vision is to drive value through digital twins across the full asset lifecycle, working to optimise asset performance, monitoring, and control across any environment.”

“The value of predictive and prescriptive maintenance is much more than simply predicting failures on large rotating assets,” said Greg Mason, senior vice president and general manager of APM, Aspen Technology. “Companies that are truly focused on eliminating safety and environmental incidents tied to machine failure, in addition to avoiding production losses, understand the need to have a comprehensive predictive maintenance culture throughout the entire plant. This requires an analytics technology that is scalable, resources needed to deploy to scale, and the expertise to lead change management. I’m pleased to say that the partnership of AspenTech and Wood around the Aspen Mtell solution provide these three unique capabilities needed to bring contextualised AI for the process industries to scale.”

Digital Transformation: Government publishes new strategy to kickstart data revolution across the UK

Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden today launched a National Data Strategy and set out the action the government will take to support the use of data in the UK.

The new strategy will put data at the heart of the country’s recovery from the pandemic so companies and organisations can use it to drive digital transformation, innovate and boost growth across the economy.

The strategy, which lays out five priority ‘missions’ the government must take to capitalise on  the opportunities data offers, is a central part of the government’s wider ambition for a thriving, fast-growing digital sector in the UK.

It includes:

  • Plans for 500 analysts to be trained up in data and data science across the public sector by 2021.
  • Plans for a new Government Chief Data Officer to lead a whole-government approach to transforming government’s use of data to drive efficiency and improve public services.
  • Plans to introduce primary legislation to boost participation in Smart Data initiatives, which  can give people the power to use their own data to find better tariffs in areas such as telecoms, energy and pensions.
  • A new £2.6m project to address current barriers to data sharing and support innovation to detect online harms.

Today the Government is also announcing up to ten new Innovation Fellowships to support the digital transformation across government. Successful applicants will have the opportunity to work closely with the No. 10 Data Science team, Government Digital Service networks and a peer-group of exceptional talent.

The UK is already a leading digital nation. Data-enabled UK service exports were estimated to be £243 billion in 2019, or 75 per cent of total service exports. And globally, the UK now sits behind only the US and China in terms of venture capital investment into the technology sector.

A 2019 McKinsey report also found that, internationally, a larger proportion of fast-growing companies use data-driven practices compared to slower-growing companies.

The strategy commits the government to develop a clear policy framework to determine what interventions are needed to unlock the value of data across the economy and help propel in the recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

Ahead of his speech at London Tech Week’s Global Leaders Innovation Summit, Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden said: “Our response to coronavirus has shown just how much we can achieve when we can share high-quality data quickly, efficiently and ethically. I don’t intend to let that lesson go to waste.

“Our new National Data Strategy will maintain the high watermark of data use set during the pandemic – freeing up businesses, government and organisations to innovate, experiment and drive a new era of growth.

“I am absolutely clear that data and data use are opportunities to be embraced, rather than a threat to be guarded against.

“It aims to make sure British businesses are in a position to make the most of the digital revolution over the years and decades to come, help us use data to improve people’s lives, and position the UK as a global champion of data use.”

Health and local authorities are using data to monitor the spread of coronavirus and the NHS is now able to predict where the system is likely to face strain first, be that on ventilators, beds or staff sickness and make fast interventions to save lives.

During the lockdown data kept supermarket shelves stocked, and services such as Ocado could send groceries to the doorsteps of those most vulnerable to the pandemic – allowing them to shield in safety. It also powers robots, pickers and packers meaning shopping arrives in one piece.

The government and businesses have come together to capitalise on data before. Open Banking handed the control of personal data back to customers who were able to share their data with third parties like start-ups, and shop around for a better deal.

Now the new strategy will look at how the country can leverage existing UK strengths to boost use of data in business, government and civil society.

It proposes an overhaul in the use of data across the public sector and the government will launch a programme of work to transform the way data is managed, used and shared internally and with wider public sectors organisations, to create an ethical, joined up and interoperable data infrastructure.

Up to ten new Innovation Fellowships, inspired by the US Presidential Innovation Fellowships, which attracted the Lead Developer on Google Maps, former CEO of Symantec and Co-Founder of the Earth Genome Project, will be created to support the digital transformation across government.

Those fellows will sit within No 10, the Government Digital Service and a number of departments, and use their skills to contribute to the kind of fulfilling challenging projects that only the public sector can offer – ones that have a huge impact on society as a whole.

In addition, 500 analysts will be trained up in data and data science across the public sector by 2021 through the Data Science Campus at the ONS, the Government Analysis Function, and the Government Digital Service to meet the evolving needs of government.

A new Government Chief Data Officer will oversee the Government Digital Service and lead the Digital, Data and Technology function. They will be responsible for shaping and delivering the government’s innovation and transformation strategies to improve capability and ensure the government can better leverage data and emerging technologies to design and deliver citizen-centric services that enhance our reputation as the world’s most digitally-advanced government.

This comes after plans were announced last month for a new Chief Digital Officer.

To help arm the next generation with high quality data skills, the Government will explore new ways to teach undergraduate students data skills that complement the existing current maths and computing curriculums, as well as developing T-Levels which include qualifications on digital skills.

Smart Data initiatives allow consumers and small and medium sized businesses to simply and securely share data with third parties that help them use that data. Plans for primary legislation will be brought forward to give people the power to use their own data to find better tariffs in areas such as telecoms, energy and pensions, and open the doors to disruptors in every part of the marketplace.

Plans to test the possibilities of sharing data between the public and private spheres include a new £2.6m project to model how improved systems for classification and sharing of data could support a competitive commercial market in tools able to detect online harms such as cyberbullying, harassment or suicide ideation. Through this programme, the government will review and upgrade the data standards and systems that underpin the monitoring and reporting of online harms such as child sexual abuse, hate speech and self harm and suicide ideation.

The strategy aims to take advantage of being an independent, sovereign nation to maximise those strengths domestically, and position ourselves internationally to influence the global approach to data sharing and use, including committing to the creation of an independent international data transfers capability.

Dr Jeni Tennison, Vice President at the Open Data Institute said: “People and organisations of all kinds are facing big challenges over the next few years. Data can help us all to navigate them, increasing our understanding of our changing world and informing the decisions we make. Data can also cause harm, for example through over-collection and inappropriate use. At the ODI, we want data to work for everyone, which means ensuring it both gets to the people who need it, and that it is collected, used and shared in trustworthy ways.

“This National Data Strategy consultation is an important opportunity for us all to explore and influence how data should be used to support the UK’s economy, environment and communities, and we look forward to the debate.”

To help shape the final National Data Strategy document, the government has launched a consultation to help shape the core principles of the strategy, our ambitions for the use of data across the economy and policy proposals.

Published alongside the National Data Strategy, the Government Office for Science’s The Future of Citizen Data Systems report examines different approaches to the governance, control and use of citizen data across the world. Considering the evidence that variations in regional data systems both reflect and determine developments in the economy, security and society, it explores factors that might drive future changes. The report provides an evidence base to support the National Data Strategy.

Sir Patrick Vallance, Government Chief Scientific Adviser said: “Our Foresight report on The Future of Citizen Data Systems highlights the importance of having a clear vision for what we want to achieve with citizen data, and building understanding and confidence among citizens in how we will achieve it. The National Data Strategy consultation is an important step in defining and realising this vision for the UK.”

Three new apprentices for technology systems provider Inspec Solutions

Inspec Solutions, a technology systems provider to industries including Petrochemical, Food & Beverage, Power Generation and Metals industry, based in Sheffield, has invested in its future by recruiting three new apprentices.

The Apprentices are Tom Oakley (18), Tom Rickers (17) and Michael Cunningham (26).  All three Apprentices are undertaking BSc’s in Electrical Engineering with Sheffield Hallam University and are working as Assistant Controls Engineers at Inspec Solutions.  They join five Apprentices already employed at the company as it continues to commit to investing in its own talent.

Mark Ritson, Managing Director at Inspec Solutions, explains: “We are constantly looking to increase our talent pool and strongly believe in training up our own engineers to grow and develop within the business.  This is our fourth cohort of Apprentices and we really do recognise the value they bring to the business. We’ve kept a competitive edge by investing in our people – and our commitment to developing our own engineers through apprentice schemes is a big part of this.”

Inspec Solutions is part of the 5% Club, which is a movement of employers for whom at least 5% of the business is made up of Apprentices, working to create a shared prosperity across the UK by driving ‘earn and learn’ skills training opportunities.

Mark Ritson continues: “We are proud to be members of the 5% club, which demonstrates our commitment to investing in Apprenticeships.”

Inspec Solutions recently celebrated its 20th anniversary in a year when sales grew by 30% with new contracts secured for its automation and process control solutions in the power generation, petrochemical and education & research sectors.

Attercliffe-based Inspec Solutions employs 25 highly qualified engineers and software developers and has established a bespoke degree apprenticeship scheme to continually nurture talent in-house.

Inspec Solutions specialises in the production of bespoke automation and Industry 4.0 (I4.0) systems, allowing customers to extract data from plant level equipment and systems and presenting this for supervisory and management intelligence purposes.

The company has successfully designed, implemented, and installed over 800 complex technology projects, of all sizes both nationally and worldwide since its formation in 2000. Systems have ranged from remote control and monitoring of an unmanned gas platform where the control room is physically sited onshore, to control and safety systems for conveying & robotic palletising machines for the food industry.

Inspec was formed in 2000 by three control engineers, the company slowly built on reputation and quality of projects to become a major player in systems for the metals industries. Although metals is still an important part of the business the company is now supplying technology systems into most industries using a wide range of systems, technologies and processes.