SATRA is working jointly on research with universities in the UK through collaborative Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) projects, the latest being to investigate ways to minimise waste when cutting leather for footwear. Physicist Tom Bayes has co-written a technical paper with Leeds Metropolitan University which focuses on SATRA’s research into automatically nesting shoe patterns effectively into hides. ‘This is a complex waste minimisation problem and to achieve even a small percentage improvements requires significant increases in computing time’, says Bayes. ‘This particular project was aimed at investigating the potential for methods based on genetic algorithms to minimise waste.’

The EPSRC receives more than £500 million each year from the UK government in grants for research into fundamental problems. This project was jointly carried out by Bayes, Alan Crispin, Paul Clay and Gaynor Taylor, all of Leeds Metropolitan and has led to a paper: Genetic Algorithm Coding Methods for Leather Nesting being published in international journal, Applied Intelligence.

SATRA chief executive Dr Ron Whittaker says: ‘In key area such as cutting parts for footwear from complex hide shapes, it was important that fundamental research work was continued in order to increase opportunities for automation in future years. SATRA has always been willing to work with high quality academic staff from universities in order to advance knowledge in such important areas in the footwear industry.’