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Smart Process Optimised Tool (SPOT), an Industry 4.0 world first approach for reliable and repeatable crimping and cutting hand tool technology

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - SPOT (Smart Process Optimised Tool (SPOT), an Industry 4.0 world first approach for reliable and repeatable crimping and cutting hand tool technology)

Reporting period: 2019-09-01 to 2019-11-30

Crimping tools are used in many industrial sectors for mounting and connecting electrical wiring. Crimping is a process in which two components are joined together by permeant ‘plastic’ deformation to create a strong connection between electrical conductors and connecting elements such as electrical contacts or plugs. The result is a process-safe electrical and mechanical connection that meets all the connection requirements of the latest technologies and products, like photovoltaic or automotive market segment (self-driving cars, different level or High voltage battery electric cars and their connection between terminal and wire)

However, there is a core problem with current state-of-the-art market products in that the crimping process is highly sensitive to human error. Further to this poor visibility and special constrictions further reduce crimp reliability.

Our new innovation: SPOT or “Smart Process Optimised Tool” is an Industry 4.0 crimping tool which contains a state-of-the-art sensor technology, a patented force distribution system as well as an advanced intelligent central unit. These features enable the tool to perform an optimal force measurement and record the accuracy and quality of the crimp thus significantly improving process reliability. Further to these advancements, an additional feature of miniaturisation is realised enabling crimping of extremely small wire diameters. This is particularly prevalent in the automotive industry that are looking for wire sizes smaller than 0.08 mm².

SPOT detects, records and alerts the user to any crimping errors meaning that false pressings are avoided. Our industrial customers will benefit from this through significantly higher process reliability (resulting in fewer failures to machine/vehicle/aircraft systems) as well as reduced repairs costs of the corresponding crimp connections. Today, crimp failure rate is around 20-25% occurring generally immediately, or more dangerously occurring after a period of weeks/months resulting in unpredictability of equipment, risk of danger and increased downtime of potentially safety critical components. In response, SPOT will reduce failure rate to 0%.

Our vision is to bring our new range of hand tools to market and leverage its advanced USP features to maintain and advance WEZAG’s world leading market position in the field of hand tool crimping. First, with support from the EIC Accelerator Phase 2, we must complete our technological developments, build a commercial-scale fully capable production unit and patent our protectable aspects. We are confident in market success having already received significant interest from potential adopters.

During our Phase 1 Feasibility Study, we have detailed the work required to finalise development of SPOT, prove to the market the added value of SPOT USPs and demonstrate to the market the reproducible accuracy of SPOT.
During this Phase 1 Feasibility Study, we have completed a market study to assess the SPOT target market sectors and analysed the data to identify the most accessible routes to market and produce market potential data for our primary target markets. We have also reconfirmed our freedom-to-operate and route to commercialisation.

In completion of the Feasibility Study, we have prepared a report that summaries the findings identified during the delivery of this project. The outputs of the study will be utilised within a Phase 2 application. In preparation of this, during this Feasibility Study, we have also prepared a project work plan, Gantt, list of deliverables and estimated a budget. This plan will enable the development of our strategic business plan that will be utilised to enable us to reach these new markets.

Having undertaken this Feasibility Study, we are now confident that the SPOT technology is commercially viable. Therefore, we are proceeding with our plans to reach market as soon as possible. In order to achieve this, we shall submit a Horizon 2020 Phase 2 application to enable us to complete the technology development to increase capability, to complete commercial trials to gain market reference and continue our current route for commercialisation.
Progress beyond state-of-the-art.

SPOT contains a new state-of-the-art sensor technology, a patented force distribution system as well as an advanced intelligent central unit. These features enable the tool to perform an optimal force measurement and record the accuracy and quality of the crimp. Additionally, as we have miniaturised, a benefit is realised enabling crimping of extremely small wire diameters as well as high forces despite the manual operation.

Today, there is currently no mechanical design which utilises sensor technology to allow a large number of repeatable force measurements with this high accuracy. Our patent search revealed that no Industry 4.0 developments of intelligent hand crimping tools are known. As such, the complex innovative electronic subsystems and multiple functionalities of SPOT is a true gamechanger.


Expected Results.

During the delivery of this Feasibility Study, we have detailed the development work required for us to reach TRL8 and prove to the market the full capability of SPOT. In parallel with technological development, to best prepare us for market entry, we shall complete various market readying activities such as engaging with the market and attending commercialisation events.

The principle Phase 2 project objective is to enhance the SPOT technology and ensure it meets the KPIs we have set in conjunction with the market. During technology trials, we expect to prove to the target market the effectiveness and the 100% repeatable process efficiency over state-of-the-art alternative methods.

As an Industry 4.0 evolution of hand tools, it is necessary for us at WEZAG to build up our internal knowledge for electrical engineering and electronics. This will be achieved via recruitment and training. However, with a legacy as an innovative company, we possess the know-how required to successfully develop, manufacture and market such world novelties and innovations.


Impacts.

The SPOT project represents a high level of process reliability for vital electronic areas for aviation, autonomous driving as well as for e-mobility and solar technology. All points serve to protect people and above all promote environmental protection as well as the further spreading of the electric mobility and green energy technology.
Prototype SPOT tool design