Brussels, 21 Dec 2004
A Network of Excellence on innovative production machines and systems (I*PROMS) is addressing what it sees as the six 'manufacturing challenges for 2020'.
The network will develop concepts, tools and techniques to enable the creation and operation of flexible, re-configurable and fault-tolerant production systems. Priorities are environmental and user friendliness, as well as the ability to adapt to changing customer needs, environmental requirements, material and labour availability and innovation.
'The network will integrate the activities of all leading EU research institutions in the field of production research,' said Professor Duc-Truong Pham, Director of the Manufacturing Engineering Centre at Cardiff University, which is coordinating the consortium. 'This will enable I*PROMS to cover all future research priorities in the field without being prematurely restricted to particular, narrow topics that could lose their significance with time.'
I*PROMS brings together 30 research teams from 14 European countries. The 139 research staff and 70 PhD students involved will initially address six challenges:
- concurrent manufacturing;
- integration of human and technical resources;
- conversion of information to knowledge;
- environmental compatibility (reducing production waste and environmental impact to 'near zero';
- reconfigurable enterprises;
- innovative processes.
The partners are planning to address a wide range of new technologies and paradigms, including microfabrication technology. The European market for this technology is expected to exceed 550 billion euro in the near future. When the production system is fully developed, it will see the cost-effective manufacture of microsystems products in large quantities in an autonomous factory. Rapid manufacturing technology will then further enhance the competitiveness of the autonomous factory by reducing the time to market of its products.
Another relatively new concept is multi-agent control technology, capable of handling high degrees of complexity. Its adoption will make it possible to control the complex distributed systems forming an autonomous factory in a sustainable way. Ultimately the network's members hope to establish a strategy and mechanisms to sustain their activities beyond the EU funding period.
For further information, please consult the following web address: