Virtual design helps granite firm stay on track for lockdown Alstom factory move

Posted on - 27th June, 2020 - 10:00am | Author - | Posted in - Ashton-on-Ribble, Business, Preston News, UCLan
Granite House
Granite House manufactures granite and quartz worktops Pic: Granite House

A Lancashire manufacturer has kept its move to Preston on track during lockdown with the help of digital technology and a replica virtual factory.


Granite House, which makes granite and quartz worktops, is set to open a factory and showroom in the former Alstom train parts plant in Strand Road in July.

When the team was unable to visit the new factory to map out the move, they approached Digitalplus, a European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) funded project run by UCLan, to help use digital technology to create a digital twin so they could plan the entire move online.

By scanning the Ashton-on-Ribble factory while it was empty, the Digitalplus team was able to create an exact replica of the floor space on a computer, including lighting, doors, windows, electrical cabinets and internal structures.

Using this alongside 3D scans of the company’s current machinery allowed the team to introduce workstations and processes throughout the workshop, allowing the management team to determine the best layout while working from home.

Read more: Fulwood school producing 3D printed valves that could turn snorkel masks into ventilators

The team then incorporated extra features including walkways, pipes, fencing and drains to create a workable demo of how the new factory would operate.

A digital replica of the new Granite House factory created by Digitalplus
A digital replica of the new Granite House factory created by Digitalplus

The virtual factory was then incorporated into virtual reality headsets, enabling management and the company’s 55 members of staff to test the flow of the site before it was installed.

As a result, the company was able to fit out the new factory first time, reducing moving costs and ensuring the layout was in the best state without any extra modifications needed.

Read more: Preston set to receive £125k from ERDF to help with safe reopening of high streets

Geoff Hill, marketing director at Granite House, said: “It is was a pleasure working with the talented and professional team at Digitalplus. Their use of cutting-edge technology enabled us to accurately plan the layout of our new premises, and has saved us from making costly mistakes.”

To find out more about Digitalplus, visit the UCLan website.

Read more: Preston memories of Alstom and GEC Traction

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What do you think of this use of digital technology? Let us know in the comments.

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