Robotics specialist targets global growth with immersive technology investment


A Cumbrian engineering firm, supported by Made Smarter, is using immersive technologies to drive global growth and innovation, and create new highly skilled jobs. Forth Engineering, based in Flimby, specialises in the manufacture of bespoke robotics that can be used in harsh environments for nuclear, oil and gas, marine, and renewables sectors. 

With the support of Made Smarter’s North West adoption programme, Forth is investing in a hardware and software solution which will allow its client to step into a virtual room and interrogate a 3D model of their asset from anywhere in the world. They are adapting office space to create a mixed reality studio and will use a leading Extended Reality (XR) headset and mixed reality smart glasses to enable customer demonstrations.

The use of digitalisation, immersion, and presentation technologies will allow Forth to deliver innovative and novel solutions to complex problems globally, opening up new markets and increasing services offered to customers.  Moreover, the team of 38 staff believe the value-added service will give it a competitive advantage as it is forecast to increase GVA by at least £500,000 over the next three years and in the process create five new, highly skilled jobs.

Mark Telford, Managing Director, said this service will raise its profile in the global, harsh environment market and support its growth strategy to double turnover by £2m each year and help to upskill the team, secure jobs and increase job satisfaction.

“Our engineering solutions are giving customers new and accurate insights into the state of their assets, without risking their workforce, and ultimately saving them a considerable amount of money,” Mark explained. 

“The application of immersive technology will be a value-added service, offering our customers something no one else is. 

“We hope that we can create a place of technological brilliance for the whole community around us, not just our customers.

“Made Smarter has enabled fuller and faster adoption of the new technologies and training, accelerating implementation by years.”

The solution works by converting 3D data of assets into a model using 3D visualisation software. This will allow the asset to be viewed within virtual/mixed reality environments in a true to life scale.

Forth will then use a leading Extended Reality (XR) headset to project a clear and precise visual representation of the asset into a room at their facility. Meanwhile, mixed reality smart glasses are sent to the customer to access a virtual face to face meeting or inspection scenario from the safety and comfort of their own office. What is more, the smart glasses will create a hologram of the customer in the studio where they can interact and interrogate the asset, which can be animated and exploded into parts.

Mark added: “We are creating a platform where two fantastic technologies meet. By taking the best of the headset’s ability to project a high intensity AR image and the smart glasses’ ability to import a hologram of a person, we can show clients their assets in staggering precision.

“We hope that more customers will come to us with dreams of realising their prototype dreams through the use of mixed and virtual reality.”

Donna Edwards, Made Smarter’s North West Adoption Programme Director, said: “We are delighted to be supporting Forth Engineering with such an innovative project. It is a fantastic example of a business using technology to add customer value, drive growth in new markets, become more sustainable, and create new jobs and new skills.

“Forth is among hundreds of manufacturers in the region grasping the opportunities offered by Made Smarter which include expert, impartial technology advice, digital transformation workshops to help take that first step to transform a business, and support with technology investment. I would encourage other SME manufacturers to do the same.”

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