Enhancing Europe's mechatronics paradigm
The 'European mechatronics for a new generation of production systems' (Eumecha-pro) project worked to improve prospects for the European mechatronics research community by envisioning production systems for factories of the future. The EU-funded project approached its goal using a commonly agreed strategy and through strong cooperation with industry. Various Eumecha-pro activities resulted in the development of industry roadmaps and research roadmaps. Industry roadmaps, established for various production equipment sectors, offer a structured view of future industrial expectations. Emerging technologies and integrated design approaches were linked to industry requirements and highlight novel industrial opportunities. Research roadmaps have industrial targets orienting research towards market needs and provide a common framework for the efficient coordination of Europe's research resources. Other project efforts concentrated on promoting the practice of the mechatronics design paradigm in industry. Team members identified best practices of mechatronic design, which were then promoted through industry-oriented workshops. A better educational framework was investigated so that manufacturing industries can benefit from the excellence of young mechatronic engineers. This entailed the analysis of mechatronics education requirements and approaches, and resulted in a European vision on how to improve related education efforts while at the same time making them more uniform across Europe. Eumecha-pro project members also managed to improve the coordination of various research and development funding mechanisms. This was achieved by entering project outcomes into the 'Eureka factory' platform and the European Commission's Manufuture initiative. Information was exchanged, shared and made accessible through the Internet, publications and a series of small committee network meetings.