Newly-launched Limerick Smarter Factory Technology Gateway opens doors to industry

Mark Whelan and Jim O'Hagan (SFT Gateway) with Karen Coughlan (Southern Regional Assembly), and Dr Liam Brown (TUS). Photo: Brian Arthur.

A NEWLY-launched innovation gateway in Limerick is hoping to help solve issues and deliver solutions to technological issues in the manufacturing industry across the Mid West and beyond.

Limerick’s Smarter Factory Technology Gateway (SFT Gateway) was set up in partnership with the Technological University of the Shannon (TUS), with an investment of €1.8million to pave the way for the manufacturing industry to grow and improve.

Speaking to the Limerick Post, SFT Gateway manager Jim O’Hagan said that the gateway can help companies improve their processes and assist with common and complex problems.

“The Smarter Factory Technology Gateway is one of 17 that the Irish government through Enterprise Ireland are co-funding with the EU across the country,” Mr O’Hagan said.

Each gateway has its own speciality area, from cyber, biomedical, or other areas.

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The one in Limerick, he says, “is in smarter factory technology, where we’re looking to work with companies in Ireland that are looking to improve their processes, conduct research projects that help their operations, and conduct better data analytics so that their business is adapting for the ever-changing demands of the next few years.” 

The gateway aims to help companies understand issues within their manufacturing process, or help them to analyse data that they have collected.

“For example, you could put in a robot into a factory but the robot may keep breaking down, or there may still be quality issues, or there may still be other problems or high energy demands where you’re not able to see where all of that is occurring,” Mr O’Hagan said.

“A lot of companies get data but don’t know how to analyse it. So the idea is that you have better visibility of the data that you have and from that data learn how to review it and how to take action. We help them in that process.”

The SFT Gateway can also help companies to conduct research into why they may be having certain issues, and what they can do to alleviate them, working in conjunction with the lecturers at TUS.

“We’re here to make them aware at the beginning but hopefully once they are aware, they review their own business, find out where there are challenges in what they’re doing at the moment, and then ask how do they get the help in to conduct the research to alleviate some of those problems.

“We’re not here to sell them anything,” Jim said.

The SFT Gateway will also be open to TUS lecturers who want to keep up to date on the latest technology in the manufacturing space, as well as students and those working in industry who want to train and learn about the newest advances.

“That’s one of the remits that we’re looking to do is to engage with industry to get their latest and greatest technology, use it and develop an innovation centre in the gateway so that the industrial companies can use the gateway innovation centre as a customer reference, a customer launching pad, training centre. 

“The lecturers get to use the latest technology. The PhD students get to access that latest and greatest technology, and the Irish companies then benefit from that educational boost, if you will, with the latest technology,” Mr O’Hagan said.

The SFT Gateway will be located at the new TUS Engineering building at Coonagh Cross. Businesses wishing to avail of the service can contact