To find the best possible solutions, it it important that companies strengthen both their product development and their production plants
Over the past year, Flanders Make initiated a major strategic change to be able to anticipate the needs of the manufacturing industry even better. The focus is now on four domains in which we cluster our competences.
Since the start of Flanders Make, about 50 projects have been defined and started, representing over 100 million euro of resources. COO Marc Engels and his team are responsible for the daily management of all these projects. Over the past year, Flanders Make initiated a major strategic change to be able to anticipate the needs of the manufacturing industry even better.
The new strategy, which was defined at the end of 2016 and implemented in 2017, departs from the trends identified within the Flemish manufacturing industry. Our research efforts are now focussing on four competence domains: Decision & Control, Design & Optimisation, Flexible Assembly and Motion Products. “Our manufacturing industry engages in both production and product development activities”, explains Marc Engels. “To find the best possible solutions, it is important that companies strengthen both. Helping them to do so will be our core business. The greatest common denominator in many of our manufacturing companies
is, on the one hand, the presence of a motion component in their products, think of vehicles and machines such as weaving machines. On the other hand, our companies can make a difference thanks to the assembly of customer-specific high-tech products with significant added value. Hence the choice for competence domains such as Motion Products and Flexible Assembly."
Smarter products and production
“We’ve also identified a major shift towards increasingly intelligent products and production equipment. This is a trend that we tackle in our Decision & Control cluster. Think, for instance, of a car with automatic speed control. This control system used to work according to one specific algorithm. But what if weather conditions are dangerous or there is a traffic jam along your route? When using sensors, such algorithm can adapt itself to the actual conditions on the road. But we take it yet another step further when products and production equipment can also exchange information with other connected machines so that, in the longer run, based on all these data, decisions can be taken that, for instance, result in a lower energy consumption.”
“In a fourth and final domain, Design & Optimisation, we focus on the connection between product development and production. How can companies facilitate the designing and manufacturing process of smart products? And how can they adapt their production to the product family that they wish to design? By using model-based development methods, companies will be able to produce innovative products or product families not only faster but also at a lower cost.”
“In 2017, we set up the new structure for implementing these new competence domains. In 2018, we moved up a gear or two to introduce our domains to the Flemish industry. We are now facing an important challenge. Because, if we want to realise a successful transformation of our Flemish manufacturing industry, we will have to grow strongly and succeed even better in translating our completed projects to the corporate world. In any event, the seeds have been sown.”
“If we want to realise a successful transformation of our Flemish manufacturing industry, we will have to grow strongly and succeed even better in translating our completed projects to the corporate world.”