Today, production systems are organised to deliver large batches of the same products. An increase in production volumes therefore almost automatically results in lower costs per product. Looking at the future, we see a shift towards mass customisation while at the same time maintaining short lead times and low costs.
To meet this trend manufacturers need to rethink and rework their production processes. They need to aim for an effective one-piece-flow production system that is smart, digitised and interconnected.
The development of such production processes depends on:
- Affordable sensors
- Actuation systems
- Processing power
- Data storage
These elements form the basic concept for a digital transformation of production processes, an essential precondition for the fourth industrial revolution, Industry 4.0.
SmartFactoryBNL at Indumation 2019.
The SmartFactory initiative was first developed in the German Research Centre for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI). Flanders Make saw the potential of this concept and brought it to the Benelux. We've teamed up with automation technology providers and manufacturing companies that are active in Belgium, The Netherlands and Luxemburg. With their support, we've been able to develop the first SmartFactoryBNL platform: a manufacturer-independent Industry 4.0 mobile production system.
The SmartFactoryBNL platform demonstrates how state-of-the-art digital technologies can be combined to increase manufacturing flexibility. Together with the German SmartFactoryKL, we're gearing up for the digitalisation race and embedding the already available connectivity and communication expertise into the system. The compatibility between SmartFactoryBNL and SmartFactoryKL is an important asset in terms of growth and scalability and makes this initiative future-proof.
Flanders Make developed the first SmartFactoryBNL demonstration platform together with Rexroth, Pilz and IBM. SmartFactoryBNL is a permanently evolving demonstrator that will be extended step by step by a growing group of participating companies. In this way, all stakeholders will learn how to develop their own smart production units that can be easily reconfigured and reprogrammed for new product variants.
Currently, the platform is creating – continuously and autonomously – different variants of business card holders, but extra functionalities will soon be implemented.
SmartFactory in the future
Research on the SmartFactoryBNL platform is ongoing. We will continuously improve and update the platform with extra functionality. To this end, we will:
- Jointly investigate how production settings can be optimised, based on advanced analytics of data collected by different sensors and quality control systems.
- Create digital twins and use them for virtual planning or fault detection and prediction purposes.
- Support operators in their workstations using augmented reality-based technology.
The main goal of the SmartFactory project is to inspire companies throughout the broad manufacturing industry.
Who can join SmartFactory Benelux?
- Suppliers of automation technology
- Robot manufacturers
- Suppliers of IT solutions
- Suppliers of Augmented Reality solutions
- Manufacturing software developers and providers
- Providers of production simulation tools
- Production system integrators
- Manufacturing companies
Reasons for joining the SmartFactory Benelux network:
- Exploring the potential of the latest Industry 4.0 technology
- Development of a vision on the future of production factories
- Demonstration platform for your digital (manufacturing) technologies
- Promotional exposure for your technologies at events in the Benelux
- Opportunity to participate in workshops focussing on the development of new demonstrators
- Support for technology transfer to a wide range of companies
- The right to use the demonstration platform for own promotional activities
- Maximum compatibility with the German SmartFactory initiative in Kaiserslautern