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Towards autonomous, customised and competitive zero defect manufacturing

Towards autonomous, customised and competitive zero defect manufacturing
  • The QU4LITY European project develops advanced digital technologies for the creation of a product and service model adapted to SMEs.
  • The technologies and architectures outlined in the project have reached an advanced validation phase in the industrial plants and facilities used for experimentation.
  • The initiative, in which IDEKO, the research centre specialising in advanced manufacturing is taking part, is in its third year of operation and is expected to finish in 2022.

The introduction of digital solutions in the zero defect manufacturing paradigm is facing challenges such as the fragmentation of the systems that support the data during its life-cycle, the lack of modularity of the developments and the difficulty of applying quality control systems. The QU4LITY European project brings together the capabilities of 45 European companies and research centres with the aim of constructing a product and service model for the zero defect factory that is disruptive and adapted to the needs of SMEs.

Within the framework of the initiative, in which the IDEKO research centre (a member of the BRTA alliance) is taking part, an open and orchestrated digital platform ecosystem is being created that will allow customised zero defect strategies to be developed, which consider all the stages of the product and process life and make it possible to increase the competitiveness of the industry.

“We are facing the challenge of improving decisions as regards quality and processes to ensure the speed, transparency and reliability of the information. This entails applying quality control loops that involve numerous organisational levels and technical stages in plant production. This requires an interoperable data networks that can connect diverse production equipment, manufacturing plants and different digital platforms”, said the QU4LITY project coordinator at IDEKO, Elena Urkia.

Significant advances

At this stage, the initiative, which started in 2019 and runs until next year, has managed to define and develop the necessary digital technologies and architectures (digital enablers) to achieve autonomous manufacturing with zero defects. Currently, these technologies are in the advanced stages of validation in the industrial plants and facilities used for the experimentation.

Furthermore, the consortium is working on the preparation of a results and applications portal, called the “Qu4lity MarketPlatform”, the purpose of which is to provide services and technologies to developers and integrators interested in autonomous solutions for zero defect manufacturing.

From its beginning, the project has also launched two calls for proposals in order to offer financial help to third companies, especially SMEs, who want to incorporate the technologies generated in the project in their production processes.

Furthermore, a new alliance has been formed within the project framework, the Digital Factory Alliance (DFA), the aim of which is to establish an innovation and experience exchange forum for all types of European companies that are working or want to start working in the field of digital manufacturing.

Multi-technology focus

The QU4LITY project covers the use and development of a large number of technologies based on digital connectivity and edge computing, “plug and control” autonomous manufacturing equipment, real-time data capture solutions for monitoring and adapting processes and the simulation models for the creation of digital twins.

“The use of these technologies brings competitive advantages that include the improvement of operational efficiency, reduction of defects, energy efficiency and the new digital business models” added Urkia.

IDEKO’s involvement in the initiative focusses on monitoring the condition of the machine and on the analysis of data supplied by the sensors installed in the monitored critical elements, such as the heads and axes of the machine.

The research centre has the specific task of incorporating zero defect services into the digital platform aimed at the development of grinding processes of the Basque machine tool manufacturer, Danobat, which is also participating in the initiative.

IDEKO is also offering support in two of the 14 pilots of the initiative. Specifically, a pilot case at line level and in a demonstrator at machine level.

Coordinated by the digital transformation company ATOS and with a budget of €19.5 million, QU4LITY includes leading manufacturers and suppliers in their sectors such as Siemens and Airbus.

The Mondragon Corporation and several research centres and universities such as Fraunhofer FHG, Innovalia and AIC foundation also form part of the consortium for the initiative.