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Testing advanced technologies for better manufacturing processes

An EU-backed project is driving radical change in European industries through enabling technologies such as AI and digital twinning. Its solutions are being tested in pilot sites in Greece, Spain and the United Kingdom.

Digital Economy
Industrial Technologies

Industry is the cornerstone of Europe’s economy. It accounts for 80 % of EU exports and provides employment to over 30 million people. However, expanding globalisation has led to increased competition from emerging markets, posing a big challenge for European industry. To help tackle this challenge, the EU-funded OPTIMAI project is bringing together and advancing different enabling technologies to develop solutions that will optimise production, reduce scrap, eliminate defects and improve training. This will safeguard European industry for the future. “We are effectively looking to create a new industry ecosystem,” states Dr Nikolaos Dimitriou of OPTIMAI project coordinator Centre for Research and Technology Hellas, Greece, in a press release posted on the project website. “We are optimising production processes through a unique mix of Smart Instrumentation, Metrology, Artificial Intelligence, Virtualisation and Augmented Reality.”

Testing solutions in three pilot sites

Aiming to demonstrate how European manufacturing processes can be optimised using AI and digital twinning technologies, the OPTIMAI team has designed a set of solutions that will cover a wide range of industrial settings and can be brought to market across Europe. The toolkit is initially being tested and validated in three pilot sites focusing on the manufacture of lifts (in Greece), the manufacture of antennas (in Spain) and the assembly of microelectronics (in the United Kingdom). Each pilot includes three different use cases: zero-defect quality inspection, production line set-up and calibration, and production planning. As reported in the press release, the OPTIMAI toolkit includes “a decision support system that detects and issues early notifications of defects, a continuous production, monitoring and quality inspection system powered by smart sensors, an intelligent marketplace for recycling of scrap, digital twins for simulation and forecasting of industrial processes, and, of course, a comprehensive ethics and regulatory framework surrounding the technologies.” At the Greek pilot site at lift manufacturer Kleemann, the project aims to automate and speed up the quality inspection process, improve final product quality, and reduce the calibration time and defect rate. The solutions demonstrated at the Spanish telecommunication technology company Televés pilot site involve the optimisation of antenna manufacturing processes, reduction of the set-up time, and the speeding up of human-machine interaction and decision-making. Lastly, the goal at the Microchip Technology Caldicot pilot site in the United Kingdom is to reduce the process failure rate, speed up the machine set-up time and increase production capacity. “We aim to strike an optimal balance between fast, cheap and reliable production choices that have a significant impact on industrial competitiveness,” remarks Dr Dimitriou. The outcomes of the OPTIMAI (Optimizing Manufacturing Processes through Artificial Intelligence and Virtualization) project will help Europe overcome the challenges its industrial sector is facing as a result of globalisation. The 3-year project ends in December 2023. For more information, please see: OPTIMAI project website

Keywords

OPTIMAI, AI, industry, manufacturing, production, technology, enabling technology, digital twinning, manufacturing