The latest from IoT Engine

Spotlight on Sheffield Tribology Services

By Lauren Shale

In January we launched an exciting new pre-accelerator programme, IoT Engine, which provides support for start-ups and SMEs in South Yorkshire to adopt, integrate, or develop IoT technologies. The programme is fully funded by ERDF, Connexin, Capital Enterprise and Barnsley Council, and is based at the brand-new MakerLab at Barnsley’s DMC 02. Under the expert guidance of Dr Rikki Coles, participants will receive 1-1 mentoring, hands-on-validation and proof-of-concept support, as well as opportunities to attend workshops and networking events with leaders in the industry. 

Five months in, and the programme is already starting to see some great successes! We now have 12 businesses enrolled and are working with them on a variety of different exciting and innovative projects. From healthcare to cyber security, and manufacturing to astronomy, we are supporting businesses across a vast range of sectors to develop their prototypes and gain more confidence in IoT technologies and solutions.

We are also working hard to build a strong IoT community across South Yorkshire, where like minded people can come together to share their ideas, struggles, and successes. Last month, we hosted the South Yorkshire Internet of Things Meetup with the theme ‘IoT in Space’. We had some really exciting speakers covering a variety of topics, and attendees has the chance to shout about all the great IoT-related activities in the region whilst grabbing some pizza and beer! You can view a short film we captured from the night here. 

We also finished the month on a high, hosting a ‘Get Started with IoT’ Event at the MakerLab in Barnsley DMC. This was very much a hands-on workshop and participants spent the afternoon creating their own IoT devices and learning how to interpret and process the readings.

About the Author
Lauren Shale

Lauren Shale

TEAM Programme Coordinator

Most of all, we absolutely love working with our businesses, whether it be going out to visit them on-site, or hosting them in the MakerLab for prototyping and practical support. One of our amazing companies is Sheffield Tribology Services, a start-up aiming to provide professional friction and wear testing to the rail industry. The dynamic duo behind the company, Ben White and Mike Watson, kindly answered some of my questions about their journey into IoT and experience on the programme: 

Tell us a little bit about you and your business:

Maintaining an optimum wheel/rail friction coefficient is incredibly important to reduce delays, improve safety, and prevent excessive wear. £50 million is spent on mitigating and managing low friction on UK railways each year, but inaccessible friction testing means the impact of this expenditure is hard to quantify. Sheffield Tribology Services (STS) is providing professional friction and wear testing to the rail industry, and we have recently won the 2021 InnovateUK Young Innovators Award for our business plan! 

How have you been involved in the programme so far?

The IoT Engine is supporting us by providing workshop access to start prototyping our new equipment and teaching us how we can integrate IoT, providing maximum benefit to our future customers in the rail industry. We’ve been using the 3D printers in the MakerLab to start making some components, and Rikki has been helping us with the programming and IoT connectivity. We attended a networking event at the DMC, and it has been eye-opening to hear from other start-ups about their use of IoT. 

What are you most looking forward to in the future of the programme?

Throughout the last year our ideas have progresses from a concept to a design, and now we’re starting to manufacture some initial components. The most exciting part is ahead – building our first prototype and collecting some friction measurements!

Why is IoT important to you?

The low cost and accessible connectivity that is available through IoT is changing how data can be gathered and used. Valuable track data, which could be used to better understand and mitigate railway friction problems, frequently becomes lost or unavailable due to the number of organisations involved in the railway industry. IoT has the potential to provide an effective method to transfer friction and environmental data between user groups, saving rail personnel time, reducing costs caused by suboptimal friction, and enhancing knowledge between industry and research. 

If you’d like to find out more, contact Ben through www.linkedin.com/in/benwhitetribo 

IoT Engine in a TEAM SY Programme. TEAM SY is an ERDF part-funded project delivered by Capital Enterprise and Barnsley Council. If you have an IoT-based project in mind, or would like to discuss how IoT can be integrated into your business, please get in touch! For more information, visit our website: IoT Engine | TEAM SY