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JDD Furniture & Aston University unite to enhance efficiency
Tue, 12th Mar 2024

A Birmingham-based company, JDD Furniture, is teaming up with Aston University in a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) aimed at boosting efficiency and production in response to increasing demand for office furniture following the pandemic.

JDD Furniture is renowned for its tailor-made office furniture, particularly banquettes, easy chairs and roofed sofa dens which are in high demand in contemporary open-plan office environments. Being designed and handcrafted by JDD, their products come in a wide range of attractive fabrics and finishes.

A KTP initiative involves a tripartite collaboration between an academic institution, a business and a highly qualified researcher (or KTP associate). The UK-wide programme is designed to enhance competitiveness and productivity of businesses through improved use of knowledge, technology and skills. Aston University, a sector-leading KTP provider, has seen 80% of its completed projects receive ratings of very good or outstanding by Innovate UK.

Post-pandemic, JDD Furniture finds itself in high demand and rapid expansion as workplaces reopen. As such, the company is eager to leverage technology to boost its production efficiency. They aspire to implement a digital production data capture system that will track individual furniture production times, identify inefficiencies, and provide real-time visibility into production stages and machine utilisation.

The collaboration engages Aston University's Professor Ben Clegg, an operations management professor specialising in systems thinking and digital technology adoption, and Dr Chao Liu, a lecturer in digital manufacturing whose research is centred around smart manufacturing technologies. The KTP associate role is filled by Balint Turcsanyi, who brings to the table degrees in electronics and artificial intelligence and prior industrial manufacturing experience.

James Mercy, director of JDD Furniture, believes the KTP will yield business-specific tracking of production and inefficiencies mitigation along with the advent of fresh, creative innovations. The diminutive size of their company, he said, would not typically attract such a potent mix of skills and qualifications. He added the partnership is expected to have wide-ranging impact, vital to the company's ongoing growth ambitions.

Professor Ben Clegg of Aston University emphasised the need for systems thinking skills in the analysis, design and implementation of any production system. Aston University, he added, has an unique approach, PrOH modelling, developed to meet such challenges. "I am confident that JDD will be another successful application of PrOH modelling giving practical benefits and useful research insights into the application of new technologies," he said.

Balint Turcsanyi, the KTP associate, expressed his excitement in being the bridge between the company and the university and looked forward to developing creative ideas. He said, "I'm hoping that once we have all the data systemised, machine learning will be the next step in AI decision-making for this project."

The KTP, which began in May 2023, is slated for completion by November 2025 and is co-funded by the UK's innovation agency, Innovate UK.