NEXT GENERATION PRODUCTION SYSTEMS
Paseo Mikeletegi 7 - Parque Tecnologico 7
Donostia - San Sebastian
Rikardo BUENO (Dr)
THE ADVANCED MANUFACTURING TECHNOLOGY RESEARCH INSTITUTE
FUNDACION ASCAMM CENTRE TECNOLOGIC
ROBERT BOSCH GMBH
CE.S.I CENTRO INDUSTRIALI DI TADDEI ING. FRANCO EC.SAS
CENTRE NATIONAL DE LA RECHERCHE SCIENTIFIQUE
CENTRO RICERCHE FIAT S.C.P.A.
ECOLE POLYTECHNIQUE FEDERALE DE LAUSANNE
CROSS HUELLER GMBH
FRAUNHOFER-GESELLSCHAFT ZUR FOERDERUNG DER ANGEWANDTEN FORSCHUNG E.V.
CONSIGLIO NAZIONALE DELLE RICERCHE
KOVOSVIT DS, A.S.
KATHOLIEKE UNIVERSITEIT LEUVEN
CAJA DE AHORROS Y MONTE DE PIEDAD DE GIPUZKOA Y SAN SEBASTIAN - GIPUZKOA ETA DONOSTIAKO AURREZKI KUTXA
NICOLAS CORREA, S.A.
ONA ELECTROEROSION, S.A.
RHEINISCH-WESTFAELISCHE TECHNISCHE HOCHSCHULE AACHEN
EMCO MAIER GMBH
MAG POWERTRAIN GMBH
BUDAPESTI MUSZAKI ÉS GAZDASÁGTUDOMÁNYI EGYETEM
COMITÉ EUROPÉEN DE COOPÉRATION DES INDUSTRIES DE LA MACHINE-OUTIL
‘Green machines’ as the next industrial revolution
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Final Report Summary - NEXT (NEXT GENERATION PRODUCTION SYSTEMS)
Europe's knowledge and innovative drive powered the industrial revolution, introducing machines into the production process and changing society forever. Since then, Europe's position as a leader in machine building has remained unchanged. But because of increased competition from other parts of the world, as well as pressure to reduce the environmental impact of the industry, following a traditional approach to machine building and manufacturing processes is no longer an option.
The NEXT project is ensuring that Europe stays ahead of the game in the field of production systems and devices. The project has five main aims: to make production machines more environmentally friendly, to make them more autonomous, to improve performance, to develop a new business paradigm for machinery, and to share new knowledge.
The NEXT results are promising in all of these areas. NEXT consortia are confident that the impacts are felt far and wide. It is very likely that some of the project partners use the new machines within a year of the project ending and it is foreseen that other companies take up the new designs soon afterwards.
The aim when starting the project was to use recycled materials for machine elements, to reduce the energy consumption of machines by at least 25%, to cut waste to zero, and to make the dismantling and recycling of machines the norm.
The NEXT project has made great strides towards achieving these goals. The prototype 'green machines' developed by the project consume significantly less energy and water than traditional machines, while building the machines also uses fewer resources. These green machines are all close to the market. No less valuable for machine users is a new evaluation process for assessing the lifecycle of a new machine. The system will help potential customers to choose between the range of processes available and select the most appropriate machine. This will save companies time and money and thus boost competitiveness.
Any machine operator will say that their job would be easier if their apparatus needed less human instruction. The NEXT team has achieved this. The autonomous prototypes of milling machines have the bonus capabilities to self- monitor and self-correct. The automatic recognition of machining tasks and processes will be welcomed by machine users. It is achieved through thermal compensation (which stabilises the performance of a component), monitoring through sensors and the recognition of signals. Other NEXT innovations include automatic tuning for control. Setting up a machine for working on a new part is currently very time consuming, but automatic recognition means that this can be done in minutes.
Ultimately what will make European machine builders more competitive is improving the performance of machines. The NEXT team uses new lightweight materials with high damping capacity and good thermal stability properties for machine components, enabling machines to work faster. The new materials also increase the lifespan of components, saving businesses money and saving on resources. For example, traditional cast iron is being replaced by lighter materials, thereby saving power consumption.
NEXT has also made breakthroughs in non-technical areas. The team was aware that both customer and machine builder could gain from changing the way they work together. The team looked at various ways of transforming the usual commercial relationship into a long-term partnership, including a redistribution of responsibilities for the construction of the machine, its operation and its maintenance. In such a set-up, the risks of constructing and then using a machine are shared. The user benefits from the increased involvement of the machine builder during the apparatus's lifecycle, while the machine builder sees to what extend the customer is satisfied and modifies its products accordingly. The machine builder will also have more control over how the machine is used, as well, as access to old parts for re-use.
The NEXT team has also carried out training sessions on new business models and evaluating quality. In addition to this, it has set up an e-learning platform in order to ensure that the new knowledge acquired during NEXT is disseminated as widely as possible. While large machine building companies are likely to be the main benefactors from the project results, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) will not left out. A new SME office established by the project partners is making sure that small companies all around Europe are aware of the research being done by NEXT. The project also generated business for some SMEs not involved directly in NEXT by forging links between them and the larger companies participating in the project. Sometimes an SME can develop the solutions that a larger company is working on, or supply specific components.
It seems likely that Europe will remain the heartland of machine building for some time to come. This is good news for the continent's machine builders and also for the manufacturing sector as a whole: faster, environmentally friendly machines mean faster, environmentally friendly production.
NEXT project is closely linked to the Manufuture European Technology Platform, this initiative is the first example of combined public/private funding for the implementation plan of a Strategic Research Agenda. It is also supported by Member State governments and the nationally-financed EUREKA scheme, as well as by the KUTXA Bank, Spain, and the European Investment Bank.
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