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Moving towards connected autonomous machines

Industry 4.0 is about the transition to smart and flexible production systems, with the integration of ICT, electronics and low-cost sensors enabling extensive interaction between machines, products and their environment. Sirris, Flanders Make and iMinds combine their expertise to help companies develop connected autonomous machines.

The industrial-scale application of digital technologies is already optimising production processes. In the future, these technologies will form the basis for cyber-physical systems: cooperating computer elements that drive physical processes.

As a result, machines are set to become increasingly intelligent and autonomous, with a high level of connectivity achieved by integrating low-cost technologies (MEMS sensors, ICT applications,  open source controller platforms, etc.). Mechatronics 4.0 aims to accelerate the integration of these technologies among Flemish SMEs active in the manufacturing industry. The project is a joint effort between Sirris, Flanders Make and iMinds.

“Sirris, Flanders Make and iMinds are pooling their expertise and infrastructure to support manufacturing companies in their move towards connected autonomous machines.”

Projects in 2015

  • EcoMechatronics-the forerunner project: EcoMechatronics, the very first Flemish innovation partnership (VIS) project, saw Sirris and FMTC support a total of 65 SMEs over four years, helping them to develop a new generation of better-performing, more energy-efficient and quieter machines. The final results of the project were presented at a closing event in the spring of 2015. Since then, Sirris has been incorporating the practical knowledge acquired into its services. Low-cost and model-based control, one of the main themes of the project, is being continued in Mechatronics 4.0.
  • Masterclass 'Automated online condition monitoring for rotating machinery': To remain competitive, machine builders have to maximise the throughput of their machines and minimise their downtime. Automated condition monitoring will therefore be a key feature of the next generation of autonomous machines. Sirris and Flanders Make organised a masterclass on this topic in late 2015 with the aim of informing companies about the merits of automated online condition monitoring and showing them how such systems can be implemented in a cost-effective way.

Which projects are we working on now?

The aim of Mechatronics 4.0 is to bring the results of applied research within the reach of SMEs. To this end, we hold masterclasses and seminars, produce business cases, publish articles as part of our ‘technology watch’ and give advice.

We focus on five key topics: low-cost sensors, wireless sensor networks, low-cost hardware and controllers, condition monitoring and vision-based applications:

  • Masterclass ‘Wireless IoT solutions in industrial applications’and ‘Positioning & sensor fusion’.

  • Eight business cases covering areas such as wireless sensors, sensor fusion for positioning  and model-based control.

  • Technology watch and knowledge acquisition in rapid development platforms: how to use low-cost hardware platforms with a view to industrialisation in an end product?

  • Technology advice in response to specific business needs.

Discover our full range of mechatronics services.