Senior Research Fellow, AMRC
The University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) with Boeing helps manufacturers of any size become more competitive by introducing advanced techniques, technologies and processes. We do this by carrying out world-leading research into advanced machining, manufacturing and materials, which is of practical use to industry.
These research activities balance the near term needs of applying more mature technologies to solve current production challenges with the longer term need to develop solutions for future challenges. One of the challenges which we have had to address is how to show a clear link between the low Technology Readiness Level (TRL) research activities and the future industry manufacturing challenges which it will help to solve.
Like many organisations, we have created technology roadmaps which aim to link our research activities to the trends and drivers within the industrial sectors which we support. However, due to the breadth of technologies and sectors in which we work, it wasn’t always easy to understand the links and the stories become noisy very quickly. There is also nearly always a limit to the amount of information which can be displayed on a traditional technology roadmap.
When we started looking for software solutions to help us communicate our message we wanted something which would allow us to link together the various different strands of data across our different roadmaps, but filter the data as required to tell the different stories within it.
What we found in SharpCloud was a solution that allowed us to show the relationships between the different items within our technology roadmap stories but when required to delve deeper into the data, to show either different threads of the story or a greater level of detail.
This has allowed us to communicate more effectively, not just internally within the AMRC, but also with our more than 100 commercial members, who are able to interact with our SharpCloud stories to help us to develop our future technology capability requirements. This ensures that we are working on fundamental research projects today, which will allow us to continue to solve industries' future challenges.
One of the most recent SharpCloud developments, SharpCloud for Enterprise has brought us big benefits by enabling us to link up many of our stories, sharing solutions across the different application areas that our members operate in, and providing a much more obvious link between the capabilities being developed and their ultimate application.
From a management point of view, this has given much greater visibility across the complete portfolio and enables the senior management team to rapidly delve into the detail of planned activities, to show how they link directly to our partner’s needs.
We have found one of the biggest benefits of using SharpCloud to be that it very quickly allows us to link the technology or capability building activities which we are running today, to their longer terms benefits. This means that very quickly we are able to build the business case for a future technology or capability investment by linking it to the industry needs which it will facilitate. Previously this was a much more involved process where the different heads of group would have to write each business case individually.
Linking our roadmaps in this way also allows us to very quickly understand how upcoming funding calls might be able to benefit the development of our technology strategy.
"This has enabled us to much better manage or complete our portfolio to ensure we are making best use of our own resource and making the most of opportunities when they do arise."
Constructing our roadmaps using SharpCloud enables our members (effectively also our Customers) to play a much greater role in informing our future technology capability. Ultimately this will also make the AMRC more efficient in this regard, resulting in more value for their membership contributions.