In an era of mass customisation, we design flexible assembly cells to serve customers correctly (quality) and faster (delivery term).
How to become a company for the future
We no longer need to make our manufacturing companies aware of the challenges of the future, believes Sonia Vanderlinden, Cluster Manager of our competence domain Flexible Assembly. “It is generally known that something must be done and many companies also know what they should do. But how they can really evolve towards a factory of the future, that’s something for which they can use all the support they can get. Flanders Make offers them this support.”
“Collecting data through the use of sensors is already common practice”, explains Sonja Vanderlinden. “The real challenge is how you can effectively start using these data to adjust your processes and make them smarter.” Within the competence domain Flexible Assembly, everything revolves around the Industrial Internet of Things: data are increasingly exchanged, processes are mutually connected, systems must be made increasingly intelligent. “A good example of this is a project in which we connect operators directly to the corporate network through tablets and new wearables such as smart glasses. Through these new tools, operators receive direct information to size. If they’ve already executed the specific task at hand more than once and had a small margin of error, work instructions will be more concise than for operators who have less experience with this task. But it also works the other way round: operators can upload information to the corporate network as well, think of process inspections or errors in work instructions detected by them. In an era of increasing customisation with ever smaller production runs, this is a great help to both company and operators.”
“The projects within our cluster also focus strongly on interaction between human operators and robots. For instance, we perform research in ways to easily control a robot. How can you communicate with a robot in a simple way without pushing buttons because you need your hands to perform your own task? We also study the potential of augmented and virtual reality. By using augmented reality, operators can already be involved in the initial phase of a design so that, based on virtual images, they can give immediate feedback on specific hurdles in the production process, after which the developer can search for remedies."
“Operators are connected to the corporate network through tablets and wearables such as smart glasses.”