Innovative Quality Engineering and Smart Technology
Quality problems are prevalent everywhere and they have very significant impacts on safety, wellbeing and quality of life. There have been well-known incidents of big failures in quality management in some large organisations, e.g. Toyota, Samsung, BP, Volkswagen and NHS. According to some reliable estimation, China suffers an annual direct economic loss of more than £17 billions due to quality problems and indirect loss of more than £100 billions due to impacts on other industries and pollution treatments, etc.
The important role of quality has been increasingly recognized worldwide. For example, China has recently identified quality as the highest priority and as a national strategy. “Improving the quality of institutions” is also one of four key areas identified by the UN for sustainable development (World Economics Outlook 2018). Indeed, according to the quality guru, Joseph Juran, “The 20th century has been the Century of Productivity, but the 21st century will be the Century of Quality”. Quality has increasingly become the dominating theme in the success of any organisation offering products and/or services.
The IQUEST (Innovative Quality Engineering and Smart Technology) project aims to help industries and enterprises to innovate and improve the quality of their products, processes and services through promoting the best quality engineering practices and providing smart system solutions. It is built upon our pioneering work and core competencies developed over last 30 years at BUL. For example, our former Brunel Centre for Manufacturing Metrology (BCMM) has been recognised by the UK Institute of Quality Assurance (IQA) as a Centre of Excellence in 1993 and it also received National Metrology for World Class Manufacturing Award in 1995. Over the last 30 years we have continued to develop a unique area of smart quality engineering, integrating three broad areas of sensors and metrology, innovative quality engineering and smart systems (including machine learning and AI). The science and technologies we have been developing are well aligned with the core technologies of Industrie 4.0. In Phase I the IQUEST project will carry out six sub-projects in the above three areas to consolidate our core technologies.
The IQUEST project will focus the important needs of industries/societies and develop leading edge solutions to important, challenging problems, through continuing dedication to world class research in this important area of Industrie 4.0 oriented smart quality engineering, exploiting and exploring the new generation of ICT and smart technologies for innovative quality engineering in our targeted industries including Manufacturing, Energy, Built environment, Aerospace, New materials, Healthcare, Education and Smart cities. The project will carry out independent R&D, joint R&D, joint PhD programmes, training, consultancy, technical exchange and technology transfer in these industries.
To achieve its effectiveness and efficiency with significant impacts, the IQUEST project will develop an international Industry – University – Research – Government open innovation platform between the UK and China. It will facilitate to establish the strategic alliance between the research teams and enterprises from the UK and China, turning the complementary strengths of the two countries in both R&D and economy into significant, long-term win-win benefits. As the second largest economy in the world, China has significantly slowed in recent years and has initiated the deep reform to fundamentally change the way of economic growth in China. The essence of the reform is to provide high quality products and services through innovation including use of the new generation of ICT technologies. UK has been traditionally very strong in innovations and high quality manufacturing. But the Brexit will cause huge uncertainties in the economic growth and will need stronger collaborations with other economies outside the EU. Working with China, UK will be able to offer its expertise in quality/innovation and tap into the invigorations of Chinese economies.
It is therefore envisaged that the IQUEST project will establish a world class centre of excellence in Industrie 4.0 oriented smart quality engineering, addressing the common broad needs of quality, productivity, competitiveness and quality of life. The project will produce leading edge research and excellent researchers to advance the science and technology and drive the standardisation and sustainable growth in this important area, thus making significant contribution to the development and growth of Industrie 4.0 in UK, China and beyond.