The Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology (SIMTech) and the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland (VTT) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to promote research and development (R&D) for the Factories of the Future (FoF).
The move aims to build FOF technology innovation and capabilities of both research entities to help manufacturing enterprises in Singapore and Finland to advance their technological competencies and address manufacturing challenges.
To do so, SIMTech and VTT will embark on the following R&D projects in the four research areas.
Sustainability: This project aims to help manufacturers decrease their energy consumption, reduce their emission of greenhouse gases and increase the share of renewable energy use. The research focus includes tools and methods for development and management of sustainable industrial systems; intelligent energy management systems for factories; and recycling development.
Internet of Things (IoT): The goal of this project is to enable future factory systems to sense, predict and adapt to variability and fluctuation in equipment, process and system-level performance. This research will focus on machine-to-machine self-monitoring and auto correction; condition-based maintenance solutions enabled by IoT; and smart interaction of shop-floor operators, machines, environment and information.
With additive manufacturing, products can be rapidly designed and built in metals, polymers, or ceramics that are customised, intricate, and functional directly from Computer-Aided Design file without the traditional need to remove material through cutting, grinding and moulding processes. The research focus will thus include the industrial scale possibilities to utilise additive manufacturing in production; high performance additive manufacturing methods; and optimisation of additive manufactured structures and components.
Virtual instruction tools in manufacturing: This project aims to enable workers to execute complex work sequences by using a virtual expert through real-time simulation and visualisation as a guide. Thus, digital models of human operator and robot optimised kinematics will be developed for tasks planning and visualisation. Factory sensor networks, ergonomics and factory safety will also be developed and tested in virtual environment before real implementation.
According to Dr Lim Ser Yong, executive director of SIMTech, these R&D projects will enable Singapore's manufacturing industry to "sustain its future relevance and global competitiveness." As for Finland, R&D projects might help mitigate the migration of high value manufacturing companies to China and India.
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