CPI has announced the start of a new project to address the manufacturing challenges and exploit the commercial opportunities offered to industry by the ‘internet of things’ (IoT), a market predicted to be worth an estimated $253billion by 2021*.
The European Regional Development Fund has announced £2.6 million of funding for CPI to establish and run a new national technology centre in County Durham. The Emerging Electronics Manufacturing Centre will provide state-of-the-art equipment for the integration of electronic devices including: a Reel-to-Reel RFID inlay production line, producing reels of RFID labels at high volumes and Smart Label Converting line which then coverts the RFID inlay’s into SMART labels, at a rate of 60 metres per minute.
IoT describes a world in which everyday physical objects are able to communicate and exchange data with one another wirelessly over the internet. IoT offers product developers’ endless opportunities to embed intelligent functionality into any surface or object. This is made possible by using printable electronics which are low-cost, flexible electronic circuits that are thinner than a human hair.
Examples of potential products would be a printed electronic biosensor worn on or inside the body of a patient that allows doctors to monitor the condition of the patient remotely via the internet. Or, packaging with embedded printed sensors which notifies a stockist of its whereabouts in a warehouse via the internet. Products such as this help simplify and streamline the management of everyday tasks.
Adoption of IoT in industry is referred to as the ‘industrial internet of things’ (IIoT). Utilising the IIoT, manufacturers will see greater opportunities to leverage their assets both on and off the production line. Additionally, Big Data will revolutionise the way manufacturers collect, store, and retrieve information about consumers. The more they know about the end user, the easier it becomes to tweak the manufacturing process to suit the market.
John Cocker, Director of Printable Electronics at CPI said “many challenges remain in being able to integrate conventional and/or novel components into the devices that will unlock the value of the ‘internet of things’. The Emerging Electronics Manufacturing Centre is focussed on addressing these challenges and helping its clients and partners to engage successfully in this exciting new opportunity”.
The project will provide open access assets and provide technical expertise, offering innovators the support necessary to make the leap from concept to commercialisation by providing the opportunity to carry out feasibility testing, develop, or scale up their innovative electronic products and manufacturing processes in a low risk environment.