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New EU research finds ways to reduce costs, time and environmental impact of manufacturing

Industry, academia and SMEs come together in EU-funded ‘Use-It-Wisely’ project to develop new business models and tools to respond to rapidly changing markets

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Top of the line research is driving new products and processes in Europe, in order to respond to rapidly changing markets and customer requirements. EU researchers and businesses across different sectors of EU manufacturing have developed new business models, tools and applications which will extend the lifespan of industrial products through innovative and continuous upgrades; saving time, money and reducing environmental impact.  

Twenty partners from across Europe spanning industry, academia, research and SMEs, worked together on Use-It-Wisely, an EU-funded research project. The project aimed to meet the challenges of continuous changes in the production environment and the subsequent requirements for production systems to be continuously upgraded. These innovations have taken place in six distinct industries, but with results that are transferrable and scalable across different sectors.

Eddie Shaw, dissemination manager for the Use-It-Wisely network, said, “Across six distinct industries, knowledge-sharing led to new and improved tools, development and use of 3D, virtual and augmented technology in the manufacture, maintenance and upgrading of high value and complex products and services.”

Some of the early results include:

• A cluster of three Greek marine actors; Ocean Yard Company (boatyard), SEAbility (boat owner and operator) INSB (classification society), were involved in developing tools and methodologies to address life-cycle issues in passenger boats. The marine cluster worked with ICCS, a Greek research organisation and Bern University of Applied Sciences to develop a “Vessel Metafile App” and a “Requirements Configuring Tool”. These tools will reduce time and costs related to decision making, designing, manufacturing, updating and operating small craft passenger or other commercial purpose boats. 

• Dutch furniture design company Gispen, and research organisation TNO examined sustainable adaptive product design in order to extend product lifespan and reduce waste. Applying the principles of the circular economy, Gispen and TNO developed a design framework which is a very practical tool to ensure the lifelong adaptation of products. Easy use and transparent scoring creates the possibility to explain the benefits of a particular product design to the end-user. They also created a circular lifecycle assessment tool which can assess the environmental impact of initial production and all adjustments during the lifetime of a piece of furniture. 

• Three companies dominant in the Italian Space industry; Thales Alenia Space Italia, Altec, and Vastalla, developed a modelling system in order to provide quicker engineering solutions during the space project lifecycle. The system improves communication and collaboration between the technical engineering team, between companies and with the customer. The technical baseline is shared, and stakeholders can understand the status of the process and of the technical baseline, allowing for more agile processes.

• Volvo AB, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of trucks and other vehicles, and Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden created equipment combining 3D laser scanning and virtual reality in order to create a virtual factory floor. It can be used to analyse changes in order to collect important input from several stakeholders such as operators, design engineers, maintenance engineers, logistics, facilities engineering, building end management, i.e. the personnel that interact with the system.

• Leading Spanish engineering company, Tecnatom and the University of Malaga developed a 3D viewer that will allow better communication during the inspection of turbines. Aside from the improvements in the inspection process, the tools developed by these partners can be applied to training, and other industries. 

• Finnish companies Metso Minerals (mining) and RD Velho (product design), and VTT (the leading Finnish scientific research centre), found solutions for extending the life-cycle of rock-crushing machinery. This was achieved through the development of augmented reality and virtual environment camera based 3D scanning which will allow rock-crushers to be inspected and upgraded at customer sites. They enable better communication, collaboration and involvement of all stakeholders including customers and suppliers.

Cross-sector collaboration has been one of the key benefits of the project and the network will continue through an online platform. The business models, tools and applications developed will be available in a repository accessible through membership.

To find out more about the Use-It-Wisely online platform, find our contact details here
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