Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre

Building a Microservices Architecture for the AMRC

The Challenge:

The University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, that’s a name, isn’t it? Let’s stick with the acronym... AMRC, describes itself as “a network of world-leading research and innovation centres working with manufacturing companies of any size from around the globe”. That’s bang on and true in every sense - including also its global status as a beacon of hope and prosperity for UK manufacturing.

It’s really important to remember that manufacturing, just like any industry, is being accelerated by tech and importantly, that digital technology is playing a huge role in that growth.

Manufacturers large and small look to the AMRC for knowledge, advice and how to future-proof their forecasts of build and deliver. This is no different when it comes to digital and everyone is looking to better understand how the AMRC is innovating in the digital space - leading the charge for innovation.

The AMRC is a large organisation that has grown rapidly, so much so that keeping up with the pace of growth has been a challenge for the underpinning technologies - this is where the Razor team come into their own.

There were disparate systems, some in-house or outsourced bespoke built platforms and even trusty spreadsheets underpinning processes.

It was time for the digital underpinnings to get up to speed to reflect the forward-thinking brilliance of the AMRC and to be a blueprint and inspiration for other manufacturers as the digital factory of the future.

What happened?

There are some incredibly smart people at the AMRC. Just go on a visit to Factory 2050 and meet some of the family there and see some of the amazing things that they are working on, our minds were blown!

We feel incredibly privileged to be the first digital company to work in collaboration with the AMRC on an incredibly challenging project for a FTSE-100 aerospace company (we can’t name drop but trust us, you know them). We’d earned our stripes and trust with the AMRC and were the only people in their minds to call to help accelerate defining the architecture of the future and the blueprint of the digital factory.

There was a dynamic collaborative approach bringing hands-on experience and thought leadership in all aspects of architectural and technical design with a focus on Microservices and modern Enterprise Application Architecture. Ego’s were left at the door with open and candid conversations during design sessions that drilled down to the right designs.

Proof of concepts were created with a focus on exhibiting the behaviours and interactions of the event-driven architecture and interesting concepts for creating a cohesive and beautiful user interface.

Manuals and guides for implementation were also authored to ensure that there was consistency throughout the development over time - and that we created legacy content for future use.

A visual representation of the service mesh within the Kubernetes cluster and how pods interact in a secure and scalable manner

But what really happened? (the results):

Based on the architectural designs and principles, a fully-functional proof of concept was created. This validated all of the concepts to help solve many of the technical challenges ahead.

The proof of concept created energy and excitement throughout the leadership team to boldly move forward in the same way that the AMRC approaches every single awesome project it creates and delivers.

Dr Aiden Lockwood

“We (the AMRC) were facing a number of challenges related to how we operated and managed our data. We understood many of these and had defined how to functionally break them up. However, we lacked the experience to operationalise such a microservices architecture. Along came Razor, with a proven history of digital transformation to put the jigsaw of components together. They started with the border and helped produce a proof of concept demonstration which firmly acquired the AMRC leaderships’ support with our future architectural direction. This gave us the nod to begin the development of our systems, with the ambition to eventually run the AMRC on our very own digital platform. Next, we will begin to fill in the rest of the jigsaw. However, we don’t quite know how many pieces that jigsaw has or what the picture on the box looks like.’

Dr Aiden Lockwood<> Principal Enterprise Architect <> University of Sheffield AMRC
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