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ELECTRICAL IMPEDANCE-BASED SYSTEM TO MONITOR DRYING PROCESS IN SAUSAGES

Final Report Summary - DRYCHECK (ELECTRICAL IMPEDANCE-BASED SYSTEM TO MONITOR DRYING PROCESS IN SAUSAGES)

Executive Summary:

Dry fermented sausage production comprises an important segment of the European meat industry and market.
However, the European meat processing industry is extremely fragmented and characterized by businesses of very small size. Small and medium enterprises play an important role in the food sector, both in economical and social terms. The traditional and farm workshops are often based in rural areas where the density of inhabitants is low and, for this reason, the diversification of the production has direct implications for employment, and the maintenance of these traditional enterprises has a great economic impact.
The sensory characteristics of food products are essential for consumers and the challenge for consortium SME sausage producers lies in increasing production while minimizing product variability, maintaining flavor and desired texture and assuring product safety.
Fermentation and maturation play a pivotal role in the final sausages quality. Maturation requires the precise control of two critical parameters – relative humidity and temperature – that are crucial for the product’s final sensory characteristics and safety.
The main objective of this project is to design and develop: (i) an analytical system that could be incorporated in ripening/drying chambers to provide information on the evolution of the relative water content and distribution in representative sausage samples along the chamber, as well as a local indication of the temperature and relative humidity values near those samples; and (ii) a drying chamber control system which uses the information from the multi-sensor system to suggest the user the environmental conditions in the chamber for a correct drying process.
The DRYCHECK project will give SMEs a practical tool to improve the production of quality sausages with a user-friendly advanced technology product at an affordable cost.
DRYCHECK is the result of a European Project funded by the European Commission for 24 months and a total investment of €1,136,621 under the “Research for the Benefit of the SMEs” at the Seventh Framework Program (FP7).
The consortium provided the complementary business capabilities, commercial networks and research expertise to guarantee the technology a quick route to the market, and all members are fully committed to ensure the success of the project.
The project was divided into research, demonstration, dissemination, exploitation and management activities by means of Work packages. After 24 months of research DRYCHECK has achieved all the objectives foreseen.

Project Context and Objectives:
The €265 billion EU-27 meat market employs over 1 million people, and is composed in its majority of SMEs dedicated to cured meats and delicatessen products. But this traditional and vital EU sector is under enormous pressure due to the current scenario of economic crisis and recent decreases in exports.
Large-scale dried sausage productions are achieved by simply hanging the raw materials in a drying chamber with controlled temperature and humidity conditions for several weeks. The drying process is very significant for the final product quality since small differences in temperature and humidity in the drying chamber may dramatically affect the diffusion of water and solutes in sausages.
The dry-cured sausage production is still based on traditional techniques and is very dependent on human perception. In fact a tactile and visual inspection is carried out by an experienced operator during the complete maturation process. According to his knowledge, the operator manually adjusts the temperature and humidity of the drying chamber for the best sausage drying process.
The industrial process results in a considerable product variability and in a significant number of poorly dried or spoiled sausages.
The solution to maintain the viability of EU SMEs is to increase productivity while maintaining quality and product safety. The SMEs behind this proposal (sausage producers GALLI and ELG, and equipment manufacturers/distributors STEVIA, PERTEC and TELEG) are certain that the main problem lies in the lack of a reliable automatic control of the drying chambers, nowadays still highly dependent on human intervention. For this reason, typically 40% of the sausages simply do not reach the best maturation conditions, leading to losses around €80.000/year in each chamber.
The DRYCHECK project aims to develop a real-time method to monitor and control the drying process based on independent and non-invasive measurements. Such a tool would have several benefits for the producer and would return in increased incomes to the producer:
- Increase quality production
- Minimize product variability
- Maintain desired flavour, texture and taste
- Ensure product safety.
The DRYCHECK system is based on a trolley composed by 8 nodes that allows obtaining dielectric profiles of the sausages that are indicative of the water distribution in conjunction to local data of temperature and relative humidity and sausage weight. The data are sent wirelessly to a central unit where the results are stored and processed to apply the corrective actions in the chamber.
This system is expected to increase the production of high quality sausages by 20%, decrease waste by 50% and increase turnover by 15%, representing extra annual earnings of €45.000/chamber.
The Scientific and Technological objectives of DRYCHECK project are here detailed:
The main objective of DRYCHECK is to design and develop: (i) an analytical system that could be incorporated in ripening/drying chambers, by means of a trolley, to provide information on the evolution of the relative water content and distribution in representative sausage samples along the chamber, as well as a local indication of the temperature and relative humidity values near those samples. (ii) A drying chamber control system which uses the information from the multi-sensor system to suggest the user the environmental conditions in the chamber for a correct drying process.
To reach this overall goal, the project aimed to achieve different technical and operational objectives, which have been achieved in given deadlines within the 24-month time-frame.
1. To extensively study the variability of sausages across the EU
2. To design a multi-electrode based EIT node system compatible to different sausages
3. To implement wireless communication units in each node
4. To develop algorithms to generate representative cross-sectional images
5. To develop a control software
6. To integrate a DRYCHECK prototype system, in a pilot-plant drying chamber
7. To demonstrate the functionality of the DRYCHECK system under real industrial conditions
Dissemination, training and exploitation objectives as well as management objectives are also highly relevant to this project. To that end, complete extra objectives have been foreseen:
1. To carry out training activities in order to facilitate the take-up of the project results by the consortium.
2. To disseminate the results and the foreground resulting from the project to the members of the consortium and beyond to a wider audience to maximize the project impact.
3. To protect the Intellectual Property Rights and to promote the exploitation of the foreground generated during the project to the greatest possible advantage for the SMEs.
4. To optimize the use of resources and to ensure that all aspects of the EC requirements for communication and reporting are met.

Project Results:
The project results per WP can be summarized as follows:
In the scope of WP1, the consortium completed the definition of the main parameters that better describe the quality and safety of a drying process. On the one hand, a general description of the sausage drying process along with the techniques available in the facilities of the end-users engaged in the Project have been prepared. A description of the sausage variability in EU has also been presented.
The importance of the controlled drying process to reduce sausage spoilage and the variability among products has been remarked and a laboratory technique to measure the water activity was introduced.
The DRYCHECK system is based on independent nodes that obtain dielectric profiles of the sausages that are indicative of the water distribution. The data are sent wirelessly to a central unit where the results are stored and processed to suggest the corrective actions in the chamber.
To perform preliminary tests of the developed system and simulate real drying conditions, a Mauting Climalab01 air-conditioned drying chamber has been rent by the RTDs of the consortium.
On the other hand, in this WP, the system specifications have been defined according to the gathered information and the end-users’ needs.
The existing EIT image strategies and characteristics of the obtained image (spatial resolution, sensitivity distribution and reconstruction algorithms) have been studied and a preliminary study on the electrodes to use has also been done. The selection of electrode types has been done according to their robustness and compatibility with food material, their suitability for industrialization, their size and their contact characteristics.
Preliminary measurements were carried out to confirm the feasibility of the EIT system to measure the water content of sausages and to gather data that will help in selecting the topology and number of the electrodes.
Different temperature and relative humidity sensors to measure local variations in the drying chamber and the wireless network design to transmit data from the nodes to a concentrator node have been presented.
Finally, the strategy agreed by the Consortium to integrate all the components of the system on a trolley has been described.
WP2 was focused on the design and implementation of the EIT multi-electrode system.
Several parameters have been defined, such as geometries, materials and the best way to fit the sausage contour, taking into account its volume change during the maturation process. Some preliminary measurements were performed on sausages provided by ELG and GALLI to support the design decisions.
The sausage sample impedances and the electrode contact impedances were measured with different electrodes at three different forces at different drying stages.
From these measurements it was also confirmed that a minimum force between the electrode and the sausage surface is needed to ensure a good contact, and, since the sausage reduces gradually its diameter during the drying process, different kinds of electrodes have been studied.
Contemporaneously the weight, temperature and relative humidity sensors have been selected according to the system specifications defined in WP1. In the same work package the consortium developed the mechanical support system for the multisensory system.
The number of electrodes that has to be used was selected and the mechanical fixture for supporting the electrodes designed and produced.
A preliminary checking of the electrode-fixture set has been made, and the enclosing box for the device and sensors has been selected.
In WP3, the EIT instrumentation has been designed and characterized. Given that the DRYCHECK system application requires low power consumption and does not need a high speed, the most suitable structure has been chosen for this application.
The main source of errors in impedance measurements is the effect of the electrode impedance and its mismatch. In the measurements performed on sausage samples, it has been detected that the presence of fat nodes would result in electrode impedance mismatch after the third week of the drying process. The device was designed to minimize this effect. The EIT system designed is composed by 3 blocks: an EIT main board, a front-end and a calibration board.
The wireless unit is connected to the EIT main board and provides the control signals through control bits and an i2C bus. The calibration board, which includes an additional front-end and resistive calibration networks, was initially included in the first prototype to allow correction of drifts in long-term measurements, but after determining that such drifts were below the noise level, it was not included in the following implementations to save power.
The EIT device is power supplied from a single 12V battery. Up to seven additional nodes can be attached to this unit through a multiplexing board to measure additional sausages placed in the same trolley. In those nodes, additional front-end boards are added.
The selected components have been soldered on the PCBs (Printed Circuit Board), and firmware for the control of the EIT board has been designed.
After the end of the first period, the EIT board has been tested to check its functionality both using resistive and saline phantoms and sausages.
In the same work package also the weight, temperature and relative humidity signal conditioning circuitry has been designed.
In the case of the temperature and relative humidity measurement, the selected sensor allows obtaining digital data to the wireless module. A signal conditioning circuit to obtain an adjusted and filtered value from a strain gauge weight sensor has been designed.
Then firmware and driver for obtaining the measurement from these sensors was improved and some tests of communication between the sensors and the controller have been done.
In WP4, the wireless-based communication unit was designed and developed.
The purpose of the designed PCB is to take data both from the EIT measurement board and temperature-humidity and weight sensors and to send these data using a wireless module to a PC.
The used wireless modules are available with on-board antenna or alternatively a connector for attaching an external antenna. The data from the EIT device, strain gauge and temperature-humidity sensor are sent wirelessly to the PC.
Then, the communication and signal conditioning circuitry board has been developed and the components soldered on it. Also the batteries to power supply the DRYCHECK system have been selected.
A test to check the connection between a PC placed outside the drying chamber and a wireless development board placed inside the chamber has been done. This test allows to state that the antenna integrated in the wireless module allows sending data correctly to the PC placed at a distance up to 20 meters. However, an externally connected antenna could be used to guarantee a better communication.
In the second reporting period the communication protocol has been implemented and tested. The protocol allows communicating with up to eight nodes per trolley. The nodes have to be periodically waked-up, as required by the user and will retrieve data from the sensors and send them to the coordinator.
Other communication tests were done. The first one was a routing path communication test with the purpose of checking the routing of the messages sent from each node to guarantee that, in the case the devices are placed too far to communicate directly with the PC, the messages will be delivered to the coordinator through the router.
To check that we were able of sending the measures taken by the temperature, humidity and weight sensors (connected to each node) to the PC a test for 7 days have been done.
WP5 was focused on the development of the algorithm for the EIT data analysis.
The spatial resolution of an EIT system is linked to the number of independent transimpedances that can be obtained. For 8 electrodes this yields a resolution of about 5% of the area.
In this Work Package the strategy to obtain the bioimpedance image was selected. All the existing strategies have larger sensitivity near the boundary rather than in the centre of the section and display regions of negative sensitivity close to the electrodes. This different sensitivity distribution has been taken into account by the reconstruction algorithm.
To describe the bioimpedance image taken from the sausages an array of 10x10 has been chosen.
In this way, 4 concentric regions in the sausage can be defined. About the representation of the EIT data, it is important to highlight that the reconstruction method does not provide estimation of the absolute impedance or conductivity but about its relative change respect to a reference measurement. This reference can be the initial situation or the measurement of a calibration phantom.
The reconstruction algorithm has been coded in C++, compiled with Visual Studio and packed into a DLL to make some tests.
To allow system test and improvement, the measurement routines have been implemented in LabView. Also the application that calls the reconstruction algorithm DLL was implemented in LabView. Subsequently this algorithm was also converted into Visual Basic to be included in the control software. Finally some preliminary tests were done with phantoms and two sausages undergoing a ripening process in the Mauting chamber.
Starting from the fifth month of the project DRYCHECK process control has been implemented.
Based on previous studies, relative humidity, temperature, process duration and sausage weight, in addition to EIT image, have been determined as relevant for the controlling of sausage drying process.
The control strategy was defined and developed in association with the expert knowledge extracted from some batches of regular strolghino production at GALLI and from the data on morphometric and physico-chemical parameters—weight loss (WL), moisture content (MC) and water activity (aw)—obtained by UPAR during the drying experiments with the Mauting drying chamber.
Corrective actions have been defined and continually enhanced using the analyzed signal data taken in real time from the multi-sensor nodes. The corrected upper and lower limits of T and RH to offset the deviations from the given pattern profiles of W and EIT have been determined and provided to the user-interface software.
Discrete measurement values on morphometric and physico-chemical properties of strolghino over the maturation process have been statistically assessed and used to develop some templates of reference patterns in weight (W), weight loss (WL) and moisture content (MC), which were integrated into the state model of DRYCHECK and then updated.
Based on the preliminary state model and reference patterns of weight (W), weight loss (WL) and moisture content (MC), control rules were developed not only for the product evaluation, but also for the process monitoring.
Control rules applied in the software interface of DRYCHECK are used primarily to:
(i) Evaluate intermediately and locally the indicative parameters of strolghino: temperature (T), relative humidity (RH), weight (W), weight loss (WL) and sectional moisture content (MC);
(ii) Diagnose their deviations from the reference patterns; and
(iii) Suggest corrective actions to the operator to maintain the maturation process of strolghino on the desired course. The corrective actions basically consist on applying new T and RH set points to change the environmental conditions in the drying chamber, which lead to the correction on the divergences of the right drying process. Preliminary control rules for the monitoring of process parameters were implemented.
Before the end of month 18th of the DRYCHECK project, user-friendly interface software has been implemented.
The DRYCHECK User-Interface Software was developed using Microsoft Visual Basic and in association with the Microsoft Access Database with the suggestion of the SMEs. This software was designed for an installation on a laptop or a PC, enabling the access to the processed data retrieved from the different multi-sensor nodes of DRYCHECK. Main features of the DRYCHECK User-Interface Software can be described as follows:
-Database management and communication protocols
-Image reconstruction algorithms of Electrical Impedance Tomography (EIT)
-Integrated control strategy of the maturation process and corrective actions
-Visualization of process variables: temperature (T) and relative humidity (RH), and product parameters: sectional moisture content (MC), weight loss (WL) and EIT images
The control strategy software was improved during the final stage of the project with the measures taken during the validation without influencing the other work packages.
Starting from the twelfth month of the project, the consortium worked on the integration of the DRYCHECK system (WP6). In particular, the communication board and the EIT board have been interconnected, and the communication driver to take the measures of the electrical impedance tomography (EIT) has been translated in C language and programmed in the wireless module. Some tests to validate the proper functioning of all the sensors have been done at laboratory scale.
At the same time the custom-made trolley, housings and insulation casings have been designed and configured. The chosen modular components can be combined in a virtually unlimited number of variations.
Using high-tensile aluminum profiles, the trolley for the DRYCHECK system prototype can be assembled cleanly and rapidly without further surface processing. The profile grooves are concealed, thus prohibiting matters and contaminants to be accumulated, while providing fastening options almost instantaneously wherever required. These profiles are anodized and are produced with modular dimensions, ensuring that the DRYCHECK trolley will be compatible with the specific requirements in sausage production.
The horizontal profile bars are movable in the vertical direction. Therefore, the space between each level of sausages can be easily adjusted.
Housings and insulation casings are designed in accordance with the requirements and specifications of each electronics board and sensor.
When the assembly of the system was concluded, the electrical connections between the boards and the assembled system were verified.
Contemporaneously, new measures of the EIT to further characterize the system and verify the effect of the relative humidity changes on the EIT measurements were taken.
As a result of this work packages the first DRYCHECK prototype has been built.
WP7 had the purpose to characterize the drying sausage maturation process. To achieve this goal, a detailed study of the characteristics of Mediterranean dry fermented sausage manufacturing process has been made. This study covered the period between month 2 and 9 of the Project.
In this first step of the Project, the need to provide reliable data, essential for the set up of the system, was made clear. Therefore, the physical-chemical and microbiological parameters of several sausage batches were studied. This allowed providing the range of variability of each of the studied parameters.
Two different types of sausages (strolghino and salame mantovano) were considered and characterised in terms of morphometric, physical-chemical and microbiological parameters, as well as environmental conditions of drying and maturation rooms. Most of the activity was focused on the regular production of strolghino, but a preliminary study on an irregular production was accomplished.
At the GALLI facilities, the weight loss of the investigated sausage batches was calculated by measuring daily the weight of a fully loaded trolley (about 180 kg for strolghino and 250 kg for salame mantovano) to provide more reliable data.
Morphometric parameters (weight, diameter, length) of the sampled sausages were measured.
The physical-chemical parameters that have been studied are: moisture, lipids, ash content, water activity and pH. The microbiological parameters which characterize dry fermented sausages include technological and spoilage flora. Lactic acid bacteria and coagulase-negative Staphylococci are the main representatives of the technological flora helpful to guarantee the onset of the fermentation. They are generally added as bacterial starter cultures to the sausage mince before stuffing. Coliforms are among the main representatives of the spoilage flora and are a hygienic indicator of the manufacturing practices. Microbiological analyses were performed according to ISO 7218. The results of this activity provide a comprehensive picture of the drying and ripening processes and those parameters which have a strong influence on the final quality and safety of dry fermented sausages.
A crucial work during the whole project has been also the characterization of the drying status maturation process and the definition and study of the main parameters of sausage quality and safety.
In this task, strolghino was further studied in depth, in terms of morphometric, physico-chemical and microbiological characteristics, and it was chosen by the whole consortium for the measurements of electrical-impedance tomography (EIT).
Strolghino has been chosen since it has the two-fold advantage: first, it has a short ripening time and this allowed repeating the production process to have more reliable data; second, it has a more uniformity of the pieces and this should reduce the variability of EIT measures.
Regular production of strolghino was studied by taking samples belonging to different batches at fixed sampling dates at the GALLI facilities. Because it has not been possible to mimic irregular productions of strolghino at the GALLI plant, it has been decided to carry out some preliminary trials at the UPAR laboratory. The sausages obtained by these trials have been characterised. Overall results of regular and irregular productions of strolghino have been presented.
In the case of the regular production, four different batches of strolghino were studied during the whole production process. Sausages were taken at 9 scheduled times over a 20/22-day production period and characterized. Ten sausages at every sampling time were studied.
It has been decided to monitor the parameters of interest for the development of DRYCHECK system. They were the following: weight loss, diameter, length, pH, internal and external aW, moisture, lipids, ash, lactic acid bacteria (LAB), coagulase-negative Staphylococci and coliforms.
Once the characterization of the regular strolghino production was complete, it has been decided to provide some data on the irregular production which could be useful to develop the process control software.
Despite considered the best option, it has not been possible to manufacture any irregular strolghino production at the GALLI plant because their drying and ripening chambers are designed to contain several tons of sausages at a time and it would have been too expensive to produce such a type of production and the shortage of products not sustainable for the enterprise.
For these reasons UPAR decided to experimentally carry out some irregular productions at their laboratories to evaluate how morphometric, physico-chemical and microbiological parameters of strolghino modify owing to environmental conditions changes.
The study of the evolution and the changes of the microbial population in the sausage have been useful to know if the fermentation and the drying processes are going properly. Therefore both regular and irregular productions have been characterized in terms of microbial population.
WP8 was focused on the validation of the DRYCHECK system.
To accomplish with this purpose the system has been installed in the GALLI facilities and 2 complete drying processes were monitored.
Predetermined control rules were applied for the evaluation of measurement data retrieved online at GALLI.
Data retrieved from each node was processed and fed into the Graphical User Interface (GUI), which was developed in the Task 5.3.
With respect to the profiles of cumulative weight reduction established from the data read by 8 weighing cells during the two validation test series, the reference pattern proofed to be suitable for the monitoring of the maturation process. At the beginning of the second measurement some errors produced by the sausage oscillation were present and a new calibration at the end of the drying process corrected these errors.
During the two validations some differences between the values of temperature and relative humidity read locally by the 8 nodes of the DRYCHECK system and those registered by the drying chamber of GALLI could be noticed. The small differences in terms of temperature and humidity compared to the values retrieved by the drying chamber sensors are due to the different position of the sensors located into the chamber and the sensor that locally takes the measure near each sausage.
Profiles of the EIT values were generated on the Microsoft Visual Basic Interface using the data retrieved from the 8 nodes connected to the front end boxes, which had undergone image reconstruction by means of the DLL provided by UPC. Measure values processed from the 8 EIT sensors were visualized on the graphical user interface software.
A moving average filter has shown to correct the electrical noise problem produced by the effect of the multiplexing structure and longer cables between the main board and the multiple front-end and electrode support boards in the eight channel EIT system.
The algorithm resulted quite robust when only one or two electrodes loss their contact because the effect on the image has a shape that decreases across the Regions of Interest, thus producing a proportional effect on all of them. Then, even with an image with a non-symmetrical pattern, the evolution of the taken measure could be coherent. When more electrodes are affected, a post-processing can be performed by pruning the measured impedance arrays by deleting the rows and columns corresponding to the electrodes that lost the contact.
The electrodes used for the measurements have shown the need of too much care to be put and to keep them in position. Thus, it was recommended the SMEs to use the electrodes designed by F-IGB for the final product.
Initial analysis performed with the first batch of measurements showed a non-regular behavior but provided criteria to care about electrode contact, to perform additional filtering and to correct for diameter loss effect, resulting on clearly improved images and results in the second batch.

Potential Impact:
The main objectives of DRYCHECK were to design and develop: (i) an analytical system that could be incorporated in ripening/drying chambers to provide information on the evolution of the relative water content and distribution in representative sausage samples along the chamber, as well as a local indication of the temperature and relative humidity values near those samples; (ii) a drying chamber control system which uses the information from the multi-sensor system to suggest how to adjust the environmental conditions in the chamber for a correct drying process.
The proposed DRYCHECK project will give SMEs a practical tool with which improve the production of quality sausages by means of a user-friendly advanced technology product, at an affordable cost.
Although in the past some research has been carried out oriented to real automated control of sausage drying through control strategies, until now none of these referenced works has generated a feasible commercial solution, nor does a patent exist that endangers the exploitation of the DRYCHECK technology as proposed. Hence, the need for new sensors that can provide additional information regarding the drying process, emulating the know-how of the manufacturers, is still a requirement and a business opportunity.
The DRYCHECK technology is highly relevant to the SME proposers, and will result in significant economic benefits to partner sausage manufacture SMEs GALLI and ELG, who will benefit from a technology that will result in a value-added end product with greater consumer appeal. The end user SMEs GALLI and ELG will benefit obtaining earlier, privileged and free access to the technology together with free maintenance, calibration and upgrade contracts.
Moreover, in future they can become “ambassadors of the DRYCHECK technology” in the respective countries to promote the developed technology.
Currently a new business model have been implemented, considering an EU market penetration of the DRYCHECK product of 0.25% the first year up to 5% in the fifth year after commercialization. This new estimation is based on the interest shown by the industries in the meat sector on the DRYCHECK system during the 2 years the product has been implemented.
Over a 5-year period, DRYCHECK represents a business opportunity with a total net income for the SMEs in the consortium, PERTEC; TELEGESIS and STEVIA, of about €2.9 million in production, sales and software and firmware maintenance.
Consortium SME STEVIA will benefit from the sale, direct production, adaptation, installation and maintenance of this novel technology for an estimated total benefit of about € 885.000.
Development of the DRYCHECK system will also benefit consortium technology companies, such as PERTEC and TELEG, increasing their knowledge and product development capability in the food manufacturing sector, as well as to offer customer service assistance in the sale and use of the DRYCHECK system and in the software/firmware maintenance. These two companies will benefit for a total net profit of about €2.03 million.
The objective of the dissemination activities of DRYCHECK was to assure that its results and other non-confidential information (knowledge) would arrive to a wide and relevant audience in order to extend its impact.
Several dissemination actions were carried out during the 24 months of DRYCHECK, in which non confidential information covering a general project overview as well as the general project objectives and applications of the technology was presented not only to the meat processor sector but also to a wider audience.
The target audiences were divided as potential customers of the technology, the general public and the scientific community in order to adapt the dissemination messages to their expectations and increase the dissemination success but always maintaining coherence and consistency between those messages.
One of the main vehicles to share information about DRYCHECK project was through the official project website that was up-dated periodically. Moreover, a standardized project presentation was prepared to be used in future dissemination events by the SMEs.
Preparing the DRYCHECK technology for exploitation and future commercialization was a must in this project. Since the beginning of the project, the Consortium did a valuable effort to boost the pre-competitive prototype from the DRYCHECK project in the direction of a final marketable device. The exploitation strategy has been planned in accordance with the interests of the SMEs, including background management; protection of confidential information and enforcement of copyright has started early in the Project’s life.
Knowledge management through establishment of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) has been held by the Exploitation Manager, Attila Somkuti (STEVIA).
RTD performers have also participated in the IPR and have given advice on exploitation work, but only as observers.
As for the initial agreement between the consortium members, the SME partners will jointly own the Foreground generated during the project in equal shares. The terms and conditions for managing and exploiting the joint Foreground have already been discussed and a draft of non-disclosure agreement and exploitation agreement has been prepared.
The future joint ownership agreement will implement the exploitation plans as well as other aspects of the joint ownership.
A project logo was created and used in all the dissemination material.
For protecting the technical aspects of the technology the industrial secret will be used. According to most national legislations in the EU, trade secret protection applies to information which has a specific commercial value, e.g. the DRYCHECK technology and the know-how for its operation. The firmware and software produced will be protected by copyright.

List of Websites:

www.drycheck.eu