An indicative list of some strong industrial case examples of services offered to SMEs, specialising in a wide range of technology sectors and addressing several industry markets, by several DIHs around EU to support them with their digital transformation are presented as follows in random order:
1. Automated Driving and Assistance Systems (DIH: Virtual Vehicle Research Center, Graz, Austria)
Client profile: Vehicle manufacturer and supplier, Software and Hardware vendor, Government, Infrastructure provider, SMEs
Client needs: Both industry and consumers expect numerous benefits from new automated driving technologies including improved vehicle and road safety, reduced congestion, lower stress for car occupants, social inclusion, lower emissions and better road utilization due to optimal integration of private and public transport with and without automated functions. This creates fundamental challenges for R&D engineers.
Provided solution by the hub to meet the clients’ needs: VIRTUAL VEHICLE covers the development, validation, test, operation, and continuous self-diagnosis of fail-operational automated driving architectures and ensures the coexistence of these highly automated vehicles with conventional vehicles on the road.
Shift automated driving to higher readiness by developing and implementing advanced methods, tools, and validation processes;
Remain flexible by selecting different combinations of re-useable, calibrated, and scalable models together with proven hardware and software architectures;
Reduce time-to-market with the open vehicle platform, proven HiL testing and the use of in-house test beds and tools;
Access to future-proof technologies as VIRTUAL VEHICLE is a partner in the leading worldwide development partnership AUTOSAR and a member of the International Standardization Organization (ISO PAS 21448).
More details: https://www.v2c2.at/expertise/adas/
2. Autonomous guided vehicle solutions for optimizing factory logistics (DIH: CROBOHUB Croatian Robotics Digital Innovation Hub, Zagreb, Croatia)
Client profile: Muraplast Ltd. is the leading and most modern producer of Polyethylene blown film in Croatia and South-eastern European region. The company operates with an annual production capacity of 20.000 tons, 5 production halls (about 12.000 m2 of production and storage capacity) and employs more than 200 employees. Company’s main product is extruded Polyethylene tubular blow film. The product is mainly used for packaging of beverages and food and can be also used in other industrial applications. Since 2013 the company started the production of multilayer flexible packaging and since the end of 2015 the production of paper bags.
Client needs: Muraplast needs to optimize the raw material feeding from sacks on pallet to container in the process of extrusion of blow film. This optimization would improve human safety (no more lifting of 25 kg of sacks), and food contact safety while producing packaging for food contact (reduced risk of contamination while pouring the raw material) and achieving optimization (less people used for handling the raw material) at the same. Problems faced are that current automation solution for Low‐Density Polyethylene (LDPE) feeding which includes big containers and piping, while Muraplast production halls are limited in space (a challenge that most SMEs face). Raw material comes in sacks on pallets on truck and not in cisterns such as in big companies. While machinery is new, well-equipped, and produced by top machinery producers, the company still faces challenges with basic logistics.
Provided solution by the hub to meet the clients’ needs: CROBOHUB offered the means for connecting Muraplast and ICENT (Innovation Centre Nikola Tesla) to discuss the challenges faced and potential solutions. Both institutions are project partners in the ongoing H2020 Factories of the Future project "Logistics for manufacturing SMEs" (http://www.l4ms.eu/). Within the scope of the project, Muraplast is one of three Pilot Application Experiments for optimizing factory logistics. ICENT has already helped the company by modelling a digital twin of the Polyethylene blown film production process and consulting on the possibilities that autonomous guided vehicle solutions could offer a manufacturing SME such as Muraplast. This has been especially important for the upcoming investments for increasing the production capacity.
3. Digitising the Solar Thermal Industry: 3D Design of high performance solar thermal system with smart controller (DIH: Cyprus Digital Innovation Hub, Nicosia, Cyprus)
Company Profile: Theohalko Solar Energy Industry Ltd is a company registered and located in Cyprus. Theohalko manufactures hot water storage tanks from 12 L up to 1000 L as well as high efficiency solar collectors. Founded in 2003, it has over 30 years of experience in the construction of solar systems through its specialised personnel. Theohalko is the subsidiary of S&T Plastikon Ltd that manufactures plastic tanks (for water and oil:50L-10000L) by rotational moulding. Theohalko has the most advanced technology equipment in Cyprus for solar collectors including high frequency ultrasonic welding unit, presses, cutting machines, bending machines, welding machines etc.
Customer needs: Theohalko requested the design and development of an Innovative high performance solar thermal systems. This system is consisted by: a) polymer hot water tank that is produced by rotational moulding combined with a high efficiency heat exchanger that transfers the water to be used, b) high efficiency solar collector specially designed to serve applications in domestic, commercial or industrial buildings, c) autonomous circulating system that circulates the liquid between the closed system of solar collectors and tank, d) wireless energy saving controller that is easily installed in solar water heating systems and can reduce the energy consumption by up to 750 kWh for an average household. Theohalko also requested the deployment of a digital presence and marketing plan towards initiating their go-to-market strategy.
Provided solution by the hub to meet the clients’ needs: CyRIC has provided knowhow, expertise and R&D services to Theohalko in several research and business projects. In specific, the services provided are the following:
Mechanical Design and prototyping;
3D Design of the polymer tank as well as design, computational energy calculations, simulation and dimensioning for the heat exchanger;
3D design of solar collector based on thermo-hydraulic parameters and energy performance;
Design and dimensioning of the autonomous circulating system;
Design and development of the innovative wireless energy saving controller.
More details: http://www.plastikon.com.cy/
4. From Digital Robot Simulation to Reality for the Foundry Solution Supplier DISA (DIH: Danish Technological Institute, Robot Technology, Odense, Denmark)
Client profile: DISA is a global provider of moulding equipment, innovative foundry technology, solutions and services.
Client needs: DISA needed a robotic solution for their foundry machine to increase its performance and output.
Provided solution by the hub to meet the needs: Before 1,500⁰C molten iron flows into moulds and becomes anything from sewage covers to tiles, and it passes through a filter to remove impurities. The filter – which previously had to be replaced manually every seven seconds – is now inserted by a robot solution developed by DTI. This process happens so fast that the machine can cast 70 extra moulds per hour. Some moulds contain four separate cavities.
The Danish Technological Institute designs the robot solution in a digital simulation environment, where the user can optimise parameters and test that the robot avoids collision with any obstacle. This has proven to play an invaluable role in the automation process.
"It's very expensive to change the design late in the process. Some parts are themselves castings and some parts have a long lead time. So, we would prefer to catch any problems 'up front'. DTI has been able to simulate the system for us so that we have not in fact had to redesign any parts during the process," says Carsten Hansen, project manager from DISA.
5. Drone GPS Air Performance Test, Digital service creation example in Arctic Drone Labs ecosystem (DIH: Arctic Drone Labs, Oulu, Finland)
Client profile: Verkotan Oy and its customers, www.verkotan.com Pekka Jokitalo, R&D Manager, email@example.com
Client needs and provided solution: Verkotan Oy (later Verkotan) is an Oulu based SME test service house concentrating on performance testing of several kinds of wireless products. It develops advanced new testing methods and provides these to international customers. Together with the Arctic Drone Labs ecosystem, Verkotan has recently designed new innovative test environment for performance testing drone navigation (GPS) in simulated environment.
This method offers opportunity for great savings in Field Testing costs. Testing results are analysed and reported faster than testing in the field is planned, scheduled or resourced. Only 1/10 of traditional testing effort is needed to reach the best GPS performance. Verkotan’s testing method can find smaller differences than combining results of several traditional GPS testing methods. The testing method used offers reliable information of movement accuracy performance including tear down data of multiple parameters.
In addition, this unique test method provides several advantages compared to traditional field-testing methods, such as 100% repeatable tests, device tested in 1 hour, 5-6 devices/day, easily adjustable parameters to find out performance limits and complete product verifications (chipset + mechanics + antenna). Furthermore, this testing method can be also used for testing other drone radio technologies (LTE, LTE-M, WLAN, ZigBee, BLE etc.) in different simulated field situations. Several Arctic Drone Labs ecosystem members have given input for this method development and were involved in its development process.
6. Development of a self-adapting robotic rehabilitation system (DIH: Aachen DIH Center for Robotics in Healthcare, Aachen, Germany)
Based on the expertise of different partners of the hub, DIERS International GmbH (SME) developed a self-adapting robotic rehabilitation system that allows patients after stroke to relearn motion patterns autonomously. The challenge of this cooperation was to adjust the robot to the individual and actual needs of the patient at any time during the exercise. Therefore, different sensors have been utilized to detect the actual movement performance of the patient. Furthermore, feature extraction algorithms have been developed to identify the actual needs of the individual patient and intelligent predicting control algorithms enable the robot to independently adapt the movement task to the needs of the patient. These challenges could be solved only by the services provided by different partners of the hub which include the transfer of the newly developed technologies, access to patient data, knowledge acquisition and demands from healthcare personal and coordinating the application for public funding.
More details: http://www.diers.eu
7. HPC-Cloud-based design of copper-alloy moulds (DIH: HPC5 - High Performance and Cloud Computing Cross-border Competence Consortium, Nova Gorica, Slovenia)
Client profile: IMR Engineering&Technologies Spa (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Client needs: In the past, IMR has tried to conduct simulations with commercial software, but never with HPC. However, they wanted to investigate how these could improve time-to-market and productivity. There were no similar success stories reported for such simulations in this sector. Furthermore, the costs of dedicated casting software and the necessary hardware and the training required for its use are excessive for an SME such as IMR whose normal activities do not require such an investment. The challenge of this case study was therefore to demonstrate the benefits of HPC-based simulation to IMR.
Provided solution by the hub to meet the client’s needs: A computer model to simulate the flow of copper alloys was developed based on an open-source software package. This model produces a reliable simulation of the filling of a mould by the molten copper alloy at low pressure. It keeps track of both the filling velocity and the thermal exchange between the mould and liquid metal. The simulation results have been validated by comparison with physical tests. Running the simulation on a desktop system took an unacceptably long time of over a day, which is not consistent with an efficient design process. Using a Cloud-based HPC system, the time for a simulation could be reduced to 3 hours, which is an acceptable time frame. Before this case study, IMR had only used limited simulations. This case study was their first experience of advanced simulation using an HPC Cloud.
Benefits of digitalisation: The use of HPC-based simulation reduces the number of changes to the mould prototype during its design. The simulation using HPC reduces the time for development of the mould by 20% and saves 20% of the cost of testing, even before mass production can begin.
The average cost for the design and testing of a set of moulds for a new product based on the traditional, empirical method, is currently around 41,000 €. The use of a Cloud-based HPC simulation, including all costs, such as set-up times and computing costs, saves about 8,000 € per set and 3 weeks of testing and modifications. IMR has about 8 sets of moulds per year to develop, so this represents a total annual saving of 64,000 €, not taking into account the benefits of a shorter time-to-market. Furthermore, these simulations create the opportunity for IMR to offer its customers a new, HPC-based design service.
8. Prototype promotion and awareness raising (DIH: Ventspils High Technology Park (VHTP), Ventspils, Latvia)
Client profile: EuroLCDs Ltd. is a liquid crystal product development company with its own research, industrialization and manufacturing facilities.
Client needs: To showcase the first fully built-in window prototype of an EuroLCDs new Smart window product.
Provided solution by the hub to meet the client’s needs: The first smart window prototype developed by EuroLCDs Ltd. was placed at the product demonstration centre which was developed by DIH in Ventspils as a starting platform to showcase the best practices and innovative technologies through success stories of companies in Ventspils and the region.
The hub created awareness around the technology and the opportunities and benefits the technology delivers. Furthermore, it showcased one of the best practices through a success story of EuroLCDs Ltd. digitizing their product and processes.
More details: http://www.eurolcds.com/index.html
9. The DigiPro project service (DIH: BOOST Smart Industry Hub, East-Netherlands, Apeldoorn, Netherlands)
DigiPro project focus: development of digital products and (production) processes for SME companies.
Client profile: Tevel Techniek B.V. is a Dutch SME that develops and builds composed modules and integrated turn key solutions for the machinery industry.
Client needs: the demand for low weight, high strength steel plates lead to the need for reliable inspection of the quality of steel plates during the bending process. Through specific cameras, software and imaging technologies a prototype for a real-time quality inspection during the bending process of steel plates was realised. Through this system a producer of steel plates will be able to quantify and guarantee the quality of the banded plates.
Provided solution to meet the client’s needs: The subsidy from the DigiPro project stages of concept development to prototyping allowed for the realisation of a working prototype for this innovation. Furthermore, the project proved to be a successful cross-border collaboration between a Dutch (Tevel) and German (SMD) SME.
More information: http://www.tevel.nl/grote-ez-delegatie-bezoekt-tevel-in-westervoort/
10. Robocoast R&D Demopaja: The Sign Language Robot (DIH: ROBOCOAST, Pori, Finland)
Client profile and needs: Satakunta hospital district issued Robocoast a new robotization challenge for a robot prototype that can repeat sign language. Among Robocoast’s responsibilities was to also test the prototype functionality of the sign language robot in sign language lessons for children with autism. It was expected that the robot to be developed could make the educational experience of sign language easy and pleasant for young children provided that it was first tested.
Provided solution by the hub to meet the client’s needs: Robocoast hub first found out which existing robot platforms have two hands and five fingers whose function can be controlled according to the user’s orders. In the next phase, Robocoast chose the best possible experts to make the sign language robot prototype in the Robocoast R&D Demopaja workshop. Finally, a two-day test period was conducted, where the new robot prototype taught sign language to 12 children with autism.
The results of the test were encouraging and development work for the sign language robot (MOMO Robot) will be continued by Futurice Ltd.