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OMTLAB’s Real time positioning system for smart & flexible manufacturing

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - SUNSTONE (OMTLAB’s Real time positioning system for smart & flexible manufacturing)

Reporting period: 2020-10-01 to 2021-03-31

The aim of SUNSTONE is to increase the efficiency of flexible manufacturing processes by advanced analytics based on real-time position data. SUNSTONE provides high precision real-time location data tailored to reliable shop floor operation. The unique hardware and software elements integrate position data of inventory and assets into MES and ERP and use the data collected to create business value for the users (business logic). SUNSTONE uses ultra-wideband (UWB) technology in disruptive way resulting in simple installation, low energy consumption and superior performance at a low price guaranteeing fast return on investment through more efficient operation for the user.
Our SUNSTONE system has been demonstrated (piloted) in relevant environments at LEAR Corp., FLEX, Foxconn, Haldex, etc. Based on the findings from these pilot tests we aim to scaleup the SUNSTONE system so it can be commercialised. To achieve this, we will require business development, global maintenance and support establishment along with product development (ease of installations, prepare for mass production, SW implementation of business logic, interfaces to third party MES and ERP packages, cyber security)
We intend to scale-up our product and company so that we can provide location-based services for the manufacturing industry worldwide. We will enter the international market initially through our piloting partners and ensure growth by involving integrator & distributor partners.
According to our piloting findings our disruptive SUNSTONE system will increase the overall efficiency of flexible manufacturing by 15% resulting in fast return on their investment of our affordable technology. The uptake of the technology will ensure profitability in the first year, a breakeven on our investment in 2 years and doubling our company size in 3 years.
The SUNSTONE project started in October 2019 and by Month 3 the product specification was completed as planned. The communication plan was completed in Month 4 and until Month 5, the development went according to plan. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 outbreak meant that our work was seriously hindered by internal and external factors. Our end user partners using our pilot systems work in the manufacturing industry (mostly automotive) and the pandemic situation meant they had to halt their production which directly affected our development progress. We could carry on with the hardware development and managed to complete it by Month 12 with some minor delays due to late delivery of components from external suppliers. However, our software and data analytics development where we relied on data and feedback from industry was greatly hindered. At the end of the summer 2020, we finally started to make progress as the industry has started to pick up again, but we had 3 months delay in our development. Anticipating more delays due to COVID-19, we asked for an amendment and extended the project by 6 months.
In the 2nd period we have managed to complete the software optimisation that included time synchronisation, data acquisition, position engine and cyber security. We have also made very good progress and close to finishing the middleware development. This includes the data analytics and visualisation modules as well. We have started the piloting activities as well by testing the new development results at the facilities of our piloting partners.
Apart from the technical work, we have also made progress with the communication and business development activities, although these were also affected by the COVID-19 situation. Our communication activities were limited due to the cancellation of events, which was our main platform to reach new customers and demonstrate our technology. We have updated our market research with the effects of COVID-19, and updated our business plan accordingly. Based on discussions with the piloting partners, we also changing our pricing strategy to be more OPEX orientated and reducing the CAPEX.
Even though there is a slight delay in our development, we still believe that SUNSTONE will be a great success, as it has the potential to revolutionise the industry. The results we have reached by developing the new hardware and software components mean, that our performance can be greatly increased and now we have the opportunity to achieve higher market penetration .
SUNSTONE is a unique UWB based RTLS that addresses the limitations of current UWB solutions in terms of accuracy (even at harsh industrial environments with dominant NLOS operation), maximum number of tags and range while keeping the tags as simple as possible through custom system design with a fully synchronised infrastructure (anchors and central units). Furthermore, SUNSTONE is tailored to the needs of the production sector by providing real-time analytics based on position data. Its integration into existing MES and ERP systems is highly supported and ensures reliable operation 24/7. This automatic tracking of assets and tools can greatly increase the efficiency of companies and at the same time freeing up the time of skilled staff to concentrate on specific tasks. The tracking of vehicles (forklifts) and people can greatly increase work safety.
Furthermore, RTLS technologies have been applied in healthcare for a number of years and the benefits have been very positive. Using the SUNSTONE solution in healthcare can open new business opportunities although it requires technology adaptation.
This means SUNSTONE has the potential to have a great impact on the manufacturing industry and on other sectors as well.