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Operator support

Operator support for numerous activities

More flexibility and competitive strength in the food industry

These days, food companies must face a growing variety of products, along with the need to produce ever faster and cheaper at the same level of quality. The production process at food companies still includes a large number of manual operations despite the fact these add little value to the product itself. Moreover, recruiting and retaining qualified employees is becoming increasingly difficult. In order to remain competitive, a production process needs to be flexible, responsive and adaptive and employees need to be optimally deployed to a high standard, paying adequate attention to their well-being.

Automation and digitisation offer significant potential in terms of operator support. However, companies need to make the right choices. For example, collaborative robots offer potential flexible automation of certain steps in the production chain. The ColRobFood project aims to accelerate the introduction of cobots into the food industry, via its demonstrator-based approach. This is a joint project with Flanders Food, who called on Sirris for its expertise and experience with regard to cobots.

Safer, cheaper, cleaner and more efficient maintenance in the processing industry

As part of the Smart Tooling Interreg project, SMEs and service providers straddling the border between Flanders and the Netherlands are collaborating as partners in the development of robot technology. The aim of the project is to bolster the processing industry by focusing on cost-efficiency and safety. The project is split into four main topics: cleaning, inspection, production floor and unmanned aircraft systems (UAS; drones). Sirris is involved in the production floor topic, with its focus on the sub-topics of 'leakage detection' and 'augmented reality'.

The first part focuses on leak detection using cobots. The aim is to ensure increased efficiency, higher performance quality and, above all, a safer work environment for technicians and engineers. The augmented reality sub-topic focuses on digital support for engineers during inspections and repair instructions on the shop floor. These digital support services are expected to increase efficiency, decrease administration tasks and improve quality.

Efficient assembly on a model production line

In an Industry 4.0 production environment, the operator is not obsolete, but instead works more efficiently given the application of all kinds of smart technology. Sirris built a new six-cell model assembly line which included various technologies to fit out the factory of the future, in order to efficiently manufacture product families with a wide range of variations. The assembly line integrates operator-supported solutions and strategies to facilitate rapid response, such as a cobot, AGV (Automated Guided Vehicle), digital work instructions, etc. Based on sensible and affordable digitisation using solutions already available on the market, “single-piece-flow” is being made possible.

The model line was developed as part of the Factory 4.0 Interreg project, intended to introduce technologies compatible with Industry 4.0 to companies either side of the Flanders-Netherlands border, via a cross-border approach. The project is intended to encourage economic development in the border region through accelerated transformation of companies (SMEs) into Industry 4.0 factories of the future. Companies are guided through this process according to a phased transformation approach.

Custom service provider Mariasteen focuses on more flexible automation

Mariasteen was interested in exploring concepts for implementing collaborative robots with greater flexibility. Sirris offered support with increasing the flexible deployment opportunities of cobots, by adding visual and force sensors.

JTEKT tests the feasibility of three different automation options

In order to stay one step ahead of the global competition, JTEKT, a supplier for the automobile industry, looked into possibilities to further optimise its production using smart automation. They commissioned three feasibility studies for various production tasks. 

Automated textile sorting at Vzw Kingloopcentrum Zuid-West Vlaanderen

Vzw Kingloopcentrum Zuid-West Vlaanderen was looking to optimise its operations and improve the working conditions of its employees. They opted to pursue the development of ergonomic textile sorting and automated packaging of rejected textile donations.