Product development and manufacturing activities are the primary economical pillars of the EU, and over 90% manufacturing activities attribute to Small- and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs). Current markets are characterised by turbulence and mounting demands for highly customised products. Customers require higher quality, faster delivery, and shorter times between successive generations of products. Value chains and cooperation between companies especially SMEs are increasingly project-specific, customer-centric and flexible, and manufacturing jobs are diversified and urgent. Meanwhile, sustainable product regulations and incentives have being taken effect, and manufacturers should, at the design and process planning stages, consider the multi-faceted requirements of manufacturing processes to ensure flexibility, competitiveness and sustainability throughout product lifecycles. It therefore requires SMEs to be able to efficiently configure and re-configure their manufacturing processes to facilitate product customisation and alteration in order to adapt much quickly to the changing global market and sustainable requirements.
Innovative knowledge-based Computer Aided Process Planning (CAPP) is a key enabler to minimise cost, improve adaptability, responsiveness, robustness, and sustainability of manufacturing processes. This CAPP-4-SMEs project, planned for 36-month duration, is aimed at enhancing the competitiveness of European companies, particularly SMEs, in sustainable manufacturing environment by:
- developing a series of innovativeandadaptive process planning services to support SMEs to simulate, evaluate, plan and optimise their dynamic and complex manufacturing processes and execution systems in collaborative value chains, in a bid to achieve efficiency, cost-effectiveness, robustness, sustainability, smartness and user intervene-friendliness during process planning.
- developing a knowledge-based and efficient simulation service to support multi-criteria manufacturability evaluation from the beginning of product lifecycle so as for SMEs to achieve first-time-right in terms of accuracy and reliability for customised product processes as well as improved overall energy profiles to comply the tougher eco-regulations.
- applying event-driven function block technology for on-board adaptive process control functions at machine level through process plan embedding, smart algorithm invocation and bi-directional communication for SMEs to achieve real-time responsiveness, adaptability and overall resource effectiveness.
- introducing a monitoring service for up-to-date machine availability and utilisation to ensure that decision making for planning and optimisation become resource-aware and well informed.
- adopting Cloud and service-oriented computing approaches, which are the new-generation supplement, consumption, and delivery model for the over-the-Internet provision of dynamically scalable resources and utility computing, as a service platform to support SMEs to move away from developing and maintaining resource-intensive and standalone CAPP systems and migrate to portable CAPP services accessible and configurable over the Internet.
The CAPP-4-SMEs Consortium is comprised of 11 partners (4 universities, 1 multi-national manufacturing company and 6 SMEs) from 5 European countries (Sweden, UK, Greece, Germany and Spain). The complementary expertise of the academic and industrial European partners in the project enables knowledge sharing, dissemination and exploitation of scientific findings, industrial applications and technical know-hows across the EU in international dimension. Technical innovations will be achieved through collaborative RTD activities oriented towards industrial applications for factories of the future.
Industry-relevant demonstration will be developed in the project as an important element for result validation using real-world cases from SMEs distributed in the EU. Targeting to showcase 40% reduction in resource consumption, 30% improvement in process robustness and accuracy, and 30% increase in productivity by reduced cycle times under more reliable and efficient manufacturing conditions, the demonstration activities based on the innovative RTD outcomes of the project will be geared to exploit future commercialisation opportunities throughout the extensive industrial networks of the Consortium, and to generate greater impacts in broader areas of the EU.