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IK4-IDEKO strengthens its expertise in advanced manufacturing with a new research structure

IK4-IDEKO strengthens its expertise in advanced manufacturing with a new research structure
The Technology Centre has reorganised its research division to accelerate manufacturing technology transfer to the market and to strengthen links with the business fabric.

The entity held its Annual General Assembly during which the 2016 results were approved.

The income of the centre from R&D&I projects reached 8.7 million euros in 2016, a 5% increase on last year’s revenues.

With the aim of meeting the needs of the market, the technological centre IK4-IDEKO has restructured its research areas, focusing on enhancing the specialisation in Advanced Manufacturing, searching new partnerships and boosting proximity to companies.

This restructuring has resulted in the establishment of four major research units: Dynamics and Control, Design and Precision Engineering, Manufacturing Processes and Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and Automation.

"During our last strategic reflection, the idea to adapt our organisation to new market challenges, among which specialisation, took a strong hold and we decided to focus on the areas that improve communication with companies," says the managing director of IK4-IDEKO, Nerea Aranguren.


A year with good results

The reorganisation of the research area is one of the fruits of the new strategic direction taken by IK4-IDEKO with the mission of bringing the technological centre closer to the needs and demands of the private sector, an approach that is reaping positive results.

The entity based in Elgoibar held its Annual General Assembly yesterday, during which the accounts for 2016 were approved.

The technology centre recorded consolidated revenues of 9.5 million euros in 2016. Of this amount, the income from R&D&I stood at 8.7 million euros, 5% more than the 8.3 million earned in 2015 for the same activity.

The R&D&i business volume was divided between research projects, which accounted for 48% of the total - and technology-transfer projects to the private sector, which accounted for 52%.

"The year 2016 was the culmination of an excellent strategic cycle during which, despite being clearly affected by the economic crisis, IK4-IDEKO continuously pursued specialisation and excellence of its research groups, both from a qualitative and quantitative point of view", Aranguren adds.

In the field of scientific production, the technology centre reached the figure of 20 active patents last year and submitted four new ones.

In addition, the technology centre stood out because it kept up its dissemination capacity publishing nine articles included in the Science Citation Index (SCI) and eleven articles disseminated at international congresses.

"Our research work was recognized in 2016, being quite successful in European calls, as we partook in five new projects, one of which is being led by IK4-IDEKO in the field of collaborative robotics," the managing director explained.

With these words, Aranguren refers to the COROMA project, an initiative coordinated by the technology centre that seeks to develop a new intelligent, modular and flexible industrial robot concept with the capability to carry out multiple processes and manufacture parts for sectors such as aeronautics, shipbuilding and energy generation.

With a workforce of 106 people, of which 27% are doctors, IK4-IDEKO’s client portfolio exceeded 80 customers last year.

"We have been firmly committed to capturing new client companies, above all by keeping up major dissemination in the field of competitive intelligence, additive manufacturing and NDT technologies," says Aranguren.

In addition to the good economic performance, another highlight of the past year was our participation at the 29th edition of the Spanish Machine Tool Biennial (BIEMH). At the event, IK4-IDEKO showcased important technological milestones such as the active damping system for vibration control, the so-called DAS (Dynamic Active Stabiliser), several state-of-the-art solutions for measurement and new developments in the framework of digital industry and Industry 4.0.

Four units to transfer more technology to companies

The restructuring of the research area of the technological centre has identified four specific areas for improving the transfer of technology applied to industrial manufacturing.

The first of these units is Dynamics and Control; this department is focused on optimizing the dynamic behaviour of machines and manufacturing processes to ensure the quality of parts, to improve the efficiency of production systems and extend the lifespan of equipment.

Secondly, IK4-IDEKO has created the Design and Precision Engineering unit to meet the growing demand for custom components with high quality standards and the development of products, prototypes, structures, mechanisms and high dynamics components in machine tools.

Furthermore, the growing application of digital technologies in the industry has resulted in the setting up of a Information, Communication and Automation Technologies unit; this area develops advanced solutions for collecting data from machinery with the ultimate aim to advance in the creation of interconnected and smart factories.

Finally, IK4-IDEKO has designed a research unit focused on Manufacturing Processes, in which researchers find solutions to problems posed by the most common conventional processes such as turning, milling, drilling or grinding. But they also tackle new techniques aimed at last-generation processes, such as laser manufacturing.

The technology centre is working on a roadmap to promote partnerships and collaborations that enable us to use the capabilities of other benchmark players in the field of manufacturing.

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The Basque Technological Centre IK4-IDEKO has a long-standing experience of 30 years in research, development and innovation of new technologies applied to manufacturing and industrial production.

Set up to respond to highly technological challenges from the Mondragon Corporation machine tool companies, today it has more than 100 researchers and a portfolio of more than 50 customers a year.

Its R&D&I is aimed at offering innovative solutions to improve competitiveness of the business fabric, and is structured in 4 research units: Dynamics and Control, Manufacturing Processes, ICT and Automation and Design and Precision Engineering.