Tuesday, 3 December 2019

Questions (87)

Peter Burke


87. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the status of the new industry 4.0 strategy which is being developed; the role envisaged for a centre (details supplied) as part of this strategy; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [49967/19]

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Written answers (Question to Business)

Future Jobs Ireland, our new economic pathway for Ireland, acknowledges the challenges resulting from the digitalisation of industry and signals Ireland’s ambition, not just to respond, but to embrace the opportunities offered. My Department is finalising an Industry 4.0 Strategy that I will shortly bring to Government.

The manufacturing sector is a critical part of Ireland’s economy. It supports 227,000 jobs directly and 4 out of 5 of those jobs are outside Dublin. Ireland has successfully established a global reputation in manufacturing sectors such as Pharmaceuticals and Chemicals, Food and Drink, Medical Devices, Computers and Electronics, and Engineering .

Ireland is well positioned to the be at forefront of Industry 4.0 with world-class industrial capabilities, a thriving community of indigenous supply chain SMEs and the presence of world-leading software and ICT companies.

Because the technologies driving the Fourth Industrial Revolution are developing so rapidly, R&D will play a key role in ensuring that Ireland is at the forefront of Industry 4.0. To ensure that Ireland stays ahead of the curve, Government has already invested in a number of research centres, including the Irish Manufacturing Research Centre funded by Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland.

The research, technology development and demonstration activities undertaken by IMR are “state of the art” to match the needs of Irish Industry.

The Mullingar location was established as an Additive Manufacturing centre to help Irish companies to assess the potential of component fabrication using additive manufacturing, known as 3D printing, as well as evaluating the introduction of this technology in their manufacturing operations. The laboratories situated in IMR Mullingar have several specialist production capabilities which are unique in the country, such as state-of-art additive manufacturing equipment and CNC machining equipment, along with cobotics and automation technology facilities.

On foot of Regional Enterprise Development funding, IMR Mullingar will be the location of pilot lines and will provide space hungry equipment facilities including:  an advanced manufacturing lab; a machining lab; Augmented and Virtual Reality technologies; pre-production pilot lines; along with robotics, digital manufacturing and sustainable manufacturing labs. 

Each of these components are key elements of Industry 4.0, and as such the Irish Manufacturing Research Centre will be a fundamental component to the delivery of the Industry 4.0 Strategy.