Cambridge manufacturer secures funding to help keep production in the UK

Espresso machine manufacturer 9Barista has been awarded over £11,500 to purchase a collaborative robot (known as a cobot).

The funding, from the ACMI 4.0 (Advanced Capacities in Manufacturing – Industry 4.0) programme, will help 9Barista make more for less and keep manufacturing at their Cambridge premises.

The grant was awarded after the ACMI 4.0 team completed a 12-hour assessment of 9Barista’s operations to see how Industry 4.0 technologies like robotics and automation could improve their performance.

A cobot is a robot intended for use in spaces where humans and robots work in close proximity. 9Barista’s cobot will mean a higher number of their patented espresso machines can be produced at a lower cost, with more customisation for customers.

The cobot (combined with a shift to single-piece-flow manufacturing) is expected to bring several benefits, including:

  •   Developing staff expertise about automation and robotics.
  •    More than 50% reduction in the necessary amount of work-in-progress stock.
  •   More sales thanks to the ability to customise orders.
  •    A five-fold increase in the number of espresso machines currently produced.
  •   80% less finished goods stock will be kept in storage, improving fire safety, reducing the risk of theft, and accidental damage.
  •   Keeping production within the UK, as production cost will be similar to manufacturing their product in the Far East.

Using ACMI 4.0 guidance, the 9Barista team will make changes in their business so the cobot can perform well straight away. This will include changing their workshop layout to make it a seamless part of the production line and providing training so staff can maintain the cobot and potentially find new ways to improve its performance over time.

ACMI 4.0 is a £1.2 million ERDF (European Regional Development Fund) business support programme to help SME manufacturers effectively adopt Industry 4.0 technologies like robotics and automation.

The programme is being delivered by economic development company, Opportunity Peterborough and the Smart Manufacturing Alliance, a sector network covering Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.

This innovation programme includes:

  •   12 hours fully funded expert consultancy: working directly with SME manufacturers to help them identify and adopt the Industry 4.0 technologies that will have the biggest impact on productivity and performance, and ensuring they extract full value.
  •   £300,000 capital grants fund*: each eligible business can apply for capital grants from £2,000 – £20,000, supporting capital project costs of £5,000 to £50,000. *(40/60 match funding required).

SME manufacturers can access these services free of charge and do not need to be paid members of the Smart Manufacturing Alliance’s network.

Bob Hart, Programme Director of the Smart Manufacturing Alliance said, “We’re delighted to have helped 9Barista take the next step in their digitalisation. The team were very open to the feedback in the ACMI 4.0 assessment and have a huge amount of enthusiasm for new technologies.

“Industry 4.0 can seem a daunting prospect for SME manufacturers, but our ACMI 4.0 programme helps break down that decision-making process. Our team can help a business identify which technologies could make the biggest difference to performance, and what else the business needs to consider, like training and data collection, before installing new technologies.”

Will Playford, CEO of 9Barista, added, “The ACMI 4.0 team gave us some excellent suggestions on how we could improve our workflow and performance, and thanks to this grant, we can really ramp up our production!

“Ever since the ACMI 4.0 assessment we’ve been fired up about making changes to our business. The whole team is very excited about bringing cobots into our operations and the opportunities they’ll have to develop their high-tech manufacturing skills.

“Moving to a single piece flow will help us develop our company culture around process excellence. Our industrial automation will also help us continue to attract ambitious staff who want to develop an exciting career at the forefront of tech.”

Find out more at

Previous articleWhy IoT is not the key to unlock supply chain value
Next articleThe best HR Strategy for real business impact