DSM Network's Pre-Launch Event

Network Pre-Launch

The University of Manchester, ICAM Pariser Building, 10 am - 3:45 pm


The whole event was considered to be a great success and provided a solid basis for our full launch on the 4 March 2020.

The event was attended by a total of 27 delegates from over 13 institutions.

Allan Matthews (Director) started the meeting with a welcome and a thank you pitch to the delegates who have supported the network.

Members of the Network Management team, Adrian Murphy and Saurav Goel, gave presentations covering different aspects of the DSM Network, and David Elliott (CEO, SEA) gave a presentation about SELF (DSM’s industrial equivalent). Moreover, we were pleased to hear from Manchester Business School representatives, about how their research complements that of the DSM Network.

In the afternoon, attendees were separated into groups, each of which discussed some key questions for the DSM’s future direction.

Feasibility call should be available to all, including relatively unrelated subjects- such as Maths and Management; however, they shall come up with ideas that clearly contribute to the coating sector.

DSM Network Management Team Tweet


Each group (total 3) was given 10 min to put their ideas together on the 3 questions and then a representative from each group to feedback their points to the delegates.

  1. How can the network build a cohesive research community in surface manufacturing?
  2. How can digitalisation help productivity and sustainability in the sector (or What research is needed in digitalisation to improve productivity and sustainability)?
  3. What capability gaps presently exist and how can we fill them?

QUE 1: How can the network build a cohesive research community in surface manufacturing?

Group 1:

  • We need a network where we can share our expertise.
  • Knowledge, awareness
  • Brief profiles of every member, exposing ourselves/expertise as much as possible
  • What digitalisation means?
  • Theme specific conference on topics in the sector: for example- Conference in Tribology
  • Invite digitalisation team to attend such conferences
  • How can we involve industry (including SMEs) and KTPs

Group 2:

  • Connect to (show we exist) the big conferences, e.g. the Big Surface engineering conference in USA.
  • Society of Vacuum conference
  • Plasma conference in Germany
  • Materials chemistry conference
  • Functional coating conference
  • MRE2020, London
  • We need champions to bring in info from other conferences and networks to the DSM.

Group 3:

  • Should also bring in the cultural change by educating industrialists and vice-versa, as well as bringing them together to resolve a common problem in the sector.
  • Certain specific events should be organised, which Industry can also attend or ask them to create such an event for us.
  • Associating ourselves with other major institutions in the sector (academia as well as industry)
You mentioned that the network would become self-sustaining. Would you welcome other universities to join the network?


Yes, one of core principles of the network is – all-inclusiveness. We envisage an open and cohesive research community. We would like to connect to every single lab working in the UK in the sector. That is our aim.

QUE 2: How can digitalisation help productivity and sustainability in the sector (or What research is needed in digitalisation to improve productivity and sustainability)?

Group 1:

  • Perform SWOT to highlight threats for businesses without digitalisation, especially SMEs.
  • Modelling or some guidelines to save a lot of time in trial-and-error manufacturing
  • Digitalisation in any aspect of manufacturing is directly related to sustainability- due to Increased Productivity, Less Waste, Efficient processes and Enhanced Life-time of the product.

Group 2:

  • Better data on complete product life-cycle
  • Better optimisation and thus, less trial and error
  • Integration and operation approach right from conception to completion.
  • Also, need to think, how can we gather data, which people can use.

Group 3:

  • We need to address the fear in the sector by taking digitalisation as it may require expensive infrastructure including even large organisations
  • Dealing with wide variation in mass production and coatings- how can we exploit the data for better use.
  • Policy changes can bring in major cultural and operational changes in the sector
  • How can we enhance agility, where people from Industry, SME, Academia and researches can work directly and quickly- What policies and infrastructure we need for such a case by case collaboration to happen?
  • How can the network bridge the gap between SMEs and R&D?
  • How can we develop a coherent supply chain?
What do you mean by digitalisation of coating?


Digitalisation of coating could also be seen as that of coating processes as well as coating properties. • We need to educate people on what do we mean by digitalisation in coating sector and how can we bring about the cultural change.

QUE 3: What capability gaps presently exist and how can we fill them?

Group 1:

  • We have to have knowledge to understand the area(s)- Monitoring, Sensing, Assessing, Coating, Processes
  • How can we best generate data for optimisation
  • There is a need to explore and establish process sensing

Group 2:

  • Is there a capability (technical gap) or communication gap?
  • Need to talk to SMEs and lobby for them within the Government.
  • Helping SMEs invest in Infrastructure

Group 3:

  • How can we enhance connectivity to different capabilities in the sector? In other words, how can experts in different fields come together, or even know where to look for and what?
  • We sense processes, but not the outcome of the processes
  • Simulation model gaps (coating properties)
  • What does digitalisation mean to diversity in coating and manufacturing
  • How can we accommodate digital skill sets of individual in the sector
  • There is a need of Diagnostic tool development
  • Made Smarter is a slow thing, and that is why it is a process than a revolution
  • How can we incorporate more digital twins in the manufacturing processes
  • Process Modelling gaps in Materials
  • Network should focus on one or two areas to fill in the gap rather than the whole spectrum (Master of a Trade).
  • How can we gather data on and introduce digitalisation to environments and atmosphere where there are clusters of coating industry (manufacturing) and show how digitalisation helped improve the environment- Emission mapping, Modelling,
  • Do we have an ISO on coating
  • Can we review ASTN, European Standards, STM on heat treatments