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Digitizing manufacturing

The Industry 4.0 principle was launched in Germany in around 2015, as a vision for the future of the manufacturing industry around 2035. The term is now ubiquitous. However, it is not easy for manufacturing companies to navigate the technological jungle. What does Industry 4.0 entail? Which technology or applications can we implement and how do they add value? In response to this and other questions, we have launched various collective initiatives to explain Industry 4.0 and to make it applicable in the manufacturing industry.

Robotics for process industry applications

The Smart Tooling Interreg project – started in 2016, in which Sirris was involved as a project partner – was completed in 2020. As part of the Smart Tooling Interreg project, SMEs and service providers straddling the border between Belgium and the Netherlands collaborated as partners in the development of robot technology for process industry maintenance and inspection tasks. Sirris focused on the implementability of Industry 4.0 technology in a typical maintenance workshop. This included investigating the usability of collaborative robots and augmented reality to support the tasks performed by service technicians. 

Demonstration of developments

At the closing event in November 2020, the participants were given the opportunity to virtually discover the developed innovations that can significantly improve the effectiveness and safety of maintenance, inspection and industrial cleaning tasks within the process industry. Sirris cooperated in the development of smart glasses to support remote and hands-free working, a cobot for repetitive, monotonous and sometimes hazardous tasks on the shop floor, and a test cobot for safe leak detection of systems under simulated process circumstances.

Read more about the cooperation and results in the following Sirris Techniline article.

SMEs in border region one step closer to Industry 4.0

In recent years, Sirris has worked with various partners in northern France, Wallonia and West Flanders, as part of the Factory 4.0 Interreg project to support SMEs near the Belgium-France border in their transformation into Factories of the Future. The project contributes towards the economic transformation of the border region.

A cross-border method was further developed to support companies in their step-by-step transformation project. The method consisted of an explorative scan of the current situation to identify issues and opportunities, followed by drawing up the action plan. V&V Engineering was one of the companies that took part in the process. 

Smart assembly line

We also addressed the construction of inspiring demonstrators in the Sirris application laboratory in Kortrijk.  The flagship was a smart assembly line, demonstrating how a variety of Industry 4.0 technologies can be deployed to support operators in their tasks: collaborative robots and digital working instructions were integrated in a production line, as were new technologies.

Various workshops and events were organised to inform the widest possible audience of the options, and more specifically to work with the technology themselves. The online closing event was organised in the summer, with more than 140 companies in attendance.

Successful integration of Action Tracker into Industry 4.0 assembly line

On the Factory 4.0 assembly line  at the Sirris lab in Kortrijk, One Two recently conducted several experiments. The purpose of these experiments was to investigate whether the Action Tracker could be used to register or start certain actions on a production line of a manufacturing company, for example. 

The first experiment consisted of simply and accurately registering the takt time in all cells. The operator is first required to scan the order they are about to work on, then they scan a start time code and a stop time code. All registrations are sent via Wi-Fi to the One Two cloud back end.

The second experiment consisted of sending kanban requests to the warehouse via the Action Tracker. Kanban is applied on the assembly line to simplify the restocking of components there. 

The third experiment involved an investigation into the possibility of starting certain machine actions via the Action Tracker. 

The use of the Action Tracker means all types of action can be started and/or registered by scanning a barcode. Examples include printing labels, starting digital assembly instructions, etc. The best part of using the Action Tracker is the fact that a PC or tablet is not required for every assembly line. The Action Tracker can be used as a remote control for the assembly line. 

Machining 4.0 helps machining SMEs innovate based on Industry 4.0 vision

Innovative technologies that make companies stronger and more competitive for the future can also offer multiple advantages for the machining industry, by arming them against new challenges such as smaller series, more complex products and shorter turnaround time. The Machining 4.0 Interreg project converts the broad Industry-4.0 vision into concrete applications for machining, tailored to machining industry SMEs. By supporting them in the integration of innovative technologies into their production: collaborative robots, digital production, innovative processes, etc. The project combines the expertise of ten partners from seven regions. The project focuses on the development of practical tools, applications and workshops, so machining SMEs can start working with recent developments within Industry 4.0.

One example is the workshop ‘Towards flexible manufacturing - the lamp of the future, made in the factory of the future’, held on 23 September 2020, where a demonstration line to manufacture a personalised lamp was used to show how the production of small series can be automated and digitised, how logistics operations on the shop floor can be optimised using digital working instructions, and to demonstrate automated guided vehicles (AGV) and the smart deployment of connected production cells.