Robotics, automation and cybersecurity technologies are critical to the factories of the future. The TRINITY opening event on “Robotics for agile and competitive manufacturing” gave concrete examples of how these technologies can help to increase productivity, agility and make lot size one economically feasible. The TRINITY project will offer financial and technical support to European small and medium-sized companies to test and benefit from these technologies through two rounds of open calls.
Robotics, automation and IoT play a critical role in the factories of the future. These technologies are essential for manufacturing companies to survive in the next decade, increase their competitiveness and production capacity. Nevertheless, only a small percentage of companies is using these technologies. Projects such as TRINITY can speed the technology transfer and shorten time to market. This was the main outcome of the opening event organized by the TRINITY project on 19 September 2019 during the EMO Hannover fair.
The shortage of highly skilled manufacturing workers was one of the main challenges mentioned by the speakers behind the need for robotics and further automation. “In 2030 the manufacturing sector will experience real difficulties in finding skilled workers” said Minna Lanz, TRINITY project coordinator and professor at Tampere University. “In 2040 we won’t have enough people to work in the factories. Automated factories are necessary in order to deal with this problem”, she added.
Another challenge is the increasing complexity and demand for customization of products. To this respect, Tomi Kankainen, CDO at Fastems, one of the TRINITY partners, highlighted the real challenge was not only about producing lot-sizeone but about flexible batch production, this is, producing lot sizes from one to hundreds or to thousands at the same time. He also explained how, as part of the TRINITY project, Fastems developed a new robotized manufacturing cell able to adapt automatically to manufactured products and production lot-sizes thanks to the reconfigurability of hardware and software.
Boris Fiedler, Digital Leader at ABB Robotics, highlighted the important role of robots in meeting these challenges and their benefits in terms of efficiency, reliability and flexibility. He provided a vision of the future factory based on the ABB new robotics factory in Shanghai. This vision was characterized by further convergence, digital integration and production based on automated cells rather than on fixed assembly lines. In this context, Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) would be used to deliver parts to the production robots and to collect finished parts and move them to other cells as necessary.
Andreas Walbert, Business Development Manager at Kuka presented the Kuka matrix production system. A similar concept than the one presented by ABB, already successfully implemented in a factory of the future dealing with the industrialisation of Additive Manufacturing at Premium AEROTEC in Varel (Germany). Together with Pascal Haas, Head of Automation at Erowa they showcased a concrete example on the automatization of die and mould workshops. The example highlighted the importance of logistics automation by using mobile robots.
The need to raise awareness about cybersecurity risks in a context characterized by further integration was also highlighted by the speakers. Ulrich Seldeslachts, CEO of LSEC, another TRINITY partner pointed out that manufacturing, with 31% of all incidents, was leading the number of cybersecurity incidents reported. The number of attacks is increasing exponentially every year and it is important to raise awareness and take the necessary measures to avoid theft of sensitive data, financial losses, loss of productivity and damage to the company’s reputation.
Florian Ernst, Managing Director of RESADO pointed out that the long product lifetime of industrial equipment is an important challenge from the point of view of cybersecurity He also introduced a new technology developed by his company aiming at protecting IoT devices. This new technology is based on the creation of a digital fingerprint for a device which allows for its unique identification and secure communication.
TRINITY open calls for funding
TRINITY is a four-year project, which started in January 2019 and it is funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme. It aims at helping European small and medium-sized companies (SMEs) to implement and benefit from new digital and robotic technologies to increase their agility and innovation capability. The focus areas are robotics, IoT and cybersecurity.
In order to reach these objectives TRINITY will develop a series of use cases to demonstrate how novel robot and digital technologies can contribute to increasing the agility of production processes across different manufacturing sectors. As part of the project two rounds of open calls for funding will be launched. Through these open calls SMEs can team up with technology providers, OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers), end-users and other partners to get funding and technical support to test some of the technologies showcased or to propose completely new demonstrators. Companies can get up to EUR 300,000 per demonstrator (maximum funding rate of 70%). The first call, for which EUR 4 million will be made available, will open on 20 November 2019. Companies will have three months to present their proposals.
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