CORDIS - EU research results

Protocols and Strategies for extending the useful Life of major capital investments and Large Industrial Equipment

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - LEVEL-UP (Protocols and Strategies for extending the useful Life of major capital investments and Large Industrial Equipment)

Reporting period: 2022-10-01 to 2023-09-30

The ‘take-make-dispose’ consumption model is affecting production assets, reason for which industry is promoting the transition to circular economy (CE). Nowadays, the deployment of digital technologies, connectivity and related large amounts of data, offers to companies the opportunity to retrofit their legacy equipment which cannot meet the constantly increasing market demands. However, industry is still lacking an efficient systemic multi-level approach to enable cost-effective, holistic, and integrated application of circular principles to the digital uplifting of factory 4.0 capital investments.
LEVEL-UP aims to develop a holistic operational and refurbishment framework applicable both to new and existing manufacturing equipment addressing issues at product, process, system as well as the entire value-chain levels, integrating best practices from emerging enabling digital technologies to achieve dynamic utilization and maintenance with upgraded remedial actions for sustainability. It offers a scalable platform covering the overall lifecycle, ranging from the modernization and CPSization actions to diagnose and predict the operation of physical assets, their digital twin set-up and the refurbishment and remanufacturing activities towards their End-of-Life (EoL). In-situ repair technologies and the redesign for new upgraded components are facilitated via virtual simulations for increased performance and lifetime. LEVEL-UP comprises new hardware and software components interfaced with the current facilities through IoT and data-management platforms, while being orchestrated through 10 Circularity Protocols, digitally implemented as the Digital Thread tool. LEVEL-UP’s solution is demonstrated in the operational environment of 7 different pilot lines around Europe including vertical lathes, milling & grinding machines, transfer presses, woodworking machines, a pultrusion line, an extrusion line and CNC equipment.
LEVEL-UP has developed an operational and refurbishment framework relevant to new and existing manufacturing equipment to extend the lifetime through optimized dynamic utilization, improved maintenance practices, and application of remedial actions i.e. upgrade, repair, remanufacturing, refurbishment when needed.
The backbone of LEVEL-UP operational framework is a service oriented scalable digital platform offering a wide variety of capabilities and services for improving maintenance practices and optimizing dynamic utilization. For legacy industrial equipment to benefit from Industry 4.0 the first step is to apply modernization actions enabling interoperability and data sharing. LEVEL-UP system includes diagnostic & prognostics modules for predictive maintenance (PdM) application which plays a crucial role in this process. Sensor/Gateway layer, Middleware, Semantic Mediator, Machine forecasting, failure mode effects analysis, decision support tool, and detect & predict are components that work closely together. The return on assets (RoA) model allows to evaluate different scenarios from an economic perspective, concluding that affordable modernisation investments can be good alternative to machine replacement and increase useful time at machine level.
Besides modernisation through digital technologies, retrofitting packages combining mechatronics upgrades with virtual simulators and/or control, add new functionalities to the machines, e.g. improved accuracy and performance in specific industries avoiding obsolescence. In addition, in-line metrology and inspection packages based on fibre optics sensors or vision, are available for monitoring product quality and machine status. They also improve performance by significantly reducing manufacturing and quality control times while increasing the knowledge about the state of the machine.
The project has explored the potential of Additive Manufacturing to create sustainable processes focused on the recovery of high-value metal components, enhancing the pillars of sustainable development. An integrated workflow has been developed combining the use of scanning technologies to create digital models of damaged components for diagnosis, CAAP tools to design and optimize the printing process and ensure consistent quality, and simulation to perform feasibility studies in terms of cost, safety and support the selection of the most appropriate manufacturing technique for a given situation. At component level, repair technologies based on metal 3D printing have demonstrated to support lifetime extension and more economic and resource efficient than other alternatives.
LEVEL-UP provides a common strategy for applying circular economy principles to industry through the definition of 8 strategies and 10 circularity protocols. LEVEL-UP circularity protocols help manufacturers and/or OEMs to retrofit their equipment applying actions, process, and digital technologies and advanced manufacturing methods in a proper way. A CEN-CENELEC Workshop LEVEL-UP on this topic, Circularity Protocols for extending the useful Life of Large Industrial Equipment, for the elaboration of a CWA is the main contribution of the project to standardization.
Overall, 54 exploitable results have been identified, 26 will be commercialised by 14 partners. A strong dissemination strategy was followed promoting LEVEL-UP results to targeted audiences by utilising the project’s existing channels (Website, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn). Also, thematic workshops and the final conference were organised, creating spaces to make LEVEL-UP technologies accessible to industry and the research community. Together with enhanced exploitation models supported by the EC tools provided in the HRB and the participation in the DFA (Digital Factory Alliance) marketplace , allows the project to achieve visibility outside the consortium framework.
LEVEL-UP has been applied to retrofit and extend the lifetime of large industrial equipment in 7 pilot lines from different sectors. KPIs, oriented to demonstrate the impact of the technology, have been identified and categorized in five relevant groups: useful life, performance, reliability & maintenance, finance, eco-innovation. LEVEL-UP approach has been evaluated achieving the following average performance metrics:
- Lifetime extension of large machinery (Increase useful life around 5-10 years)
- Performance (Increase of availability of 5-10%, OEE over 10%, Order lead time reduction of 5%
- Reliability & Maintenance (Reduced total downtimes over 5%, Reduction of MTTR over 10% for controlled components, Decrease of failure rates around 5%)
- Finance (Increased return on investment, Modernisation costs vs replacement costs)
- Eco-innovation (Energy and resource reduction over 10%, Material Circularity Index increase over 20%)
The innovations result from LEVEL-UP open clear opportunities to European manufacturers for extending the lifetime of large industrial equipment and maximising the return of investment. LEVEL-UP results contribute to:
- Increase competitiveness of the European industry through digitalisation, improving dynamic utilisation of equipment and improving maintenance practices.
- Enhance resource efficiency and waste reduction through the application of circular economy principles in manufacturing in a more systematic way.
- Promote the use of additive manufacturing in the reverse supply chain to remanufacture, refurbish, upgrade high added value metal components.
Figure 2. LEVEL-UP concept.
Figure 1. LEVEL-UP Circularity Protocols.
Figure 4. Architecture for deployment of WP6, through which TRL6 was accomplished.
Figure 5. Additive Manufacturing workflow for remanufacturing high added value metal components.
Figure 3. Circularity Protocols overall flow.
Figure 6. In-situ repair cell.