STEPMAN – A well progressing FP7 project in validation phase
STEPMAN project (286887) running from November 2011 is supported by the Seventh Framework Program (FP7) under the Research for the Benefit of SME Associations scheme. From 9 European countries 10 participants (3 associations, 3 small and medium enterprises and 4 research institutions) collaborate to realize the project over 39 months with the aim to create a system facilitating bidirectional communication throughout the CAx chain used by SMEs within SME association groups.
The project has passed M35 and the main technical development is finished. After the successful technical development work, the prototype is at disposal in a well advanced level. The main focus is now on knowledge transfer, end-user tests, intensified dissemination and finalisation of exploitation plans.
In the last months, partners have been focusing on the trainings and the system validation, as those are the key to the knowledge transfer towards the partners.
In practice two-fold trainings are planned: one set for the members of the consortium and another set for the SME members of the consortium SME Associations. The trainings towards the SME Associations were executed between July and September 2014 and are more focused on how to operate the system and to validate it by end-users. As part of the validation, STEPMAN was installed at GI-FLEX (HU) facility and Evaflo (FR), the end user member of MECALOIRE (FR, SME Association) as well as at end-user CADCAMation (CH), the end user of INNOLAB (CH, SME Association).
The first end-user validation event was hosted by partner MECALOIRE, Evaflo at Saint Germain Laval, France on 16-17 July 2014.
Evaflo (http://www.evaflo.com/) is a French engineering company situated in Saint Germain specialised to manufacture manifolds, distribution blocks, pump housing by creating CNC program. They are experts in machining parts for components in fluid power. They mainly work with materials such as steel, cast iron, aluminium and crude smelters.
On the event held at Evaflo premises, all the consortium research partners (RTDs) contributed to the success of the end-user validation. Three main topics were discussed: • How to improve end user experience in form of a usability workshop presented by BATH (UK) which was followed by WZL’s (DE) technical training on the details of STEPMAN client. • Training on prototype installation and field test was led by ATEKNEA (HU). • Live prototype training via on-site visit.
Finally the trick and tips on how to use the STEPMAN software were presented. The training event ended with an interactive section accompanied with open discussions.
As a result, SME associations are now aware of how to start and build up the training for the target group, and which kind of assistance would be most helpful in getting familiar with the system. Based on this information the further trainings to the membership can be planned.