Northern Netherlands as Region of Smart Factories

logo NNL region of smart factoriesA sizeable network of companies and knowledge institutes in the Northern Netherlands has taken the initiative for the development of new technologies to substantially improve the productivity of the manufacturing industry in the years to come. This group, which calls itself the “Region of Smart Factories” (RoSF) comprises large multinationals such as Fokker and Philips and many regional SME companies, knowledge institutes including SRON and ASTRON & IBM Center for Exascale Technology, Groningen University and the three northern Universities of Applied Sciences. A number of parties from the eastern Netherlands, including TenCate and University of Twente, have also joined the group.

The program was set up by the NOM in partnership with Sensor Universe. The new partners yesterday signed a declaration of intent at Philips in Drachten under the watchful eye of northern members of the provincial executive Mr Konst (Friesland) and Ms Van Mastrigt (Groningen) and Mr Lundqvist, who heads the national Topteam High Tech Systems and Materials (HTSM).

Self-learning and fault-free factories
To fully maintain the manufacturing industry, which is one of the most important employers in the northern region, the productivity of companies will have to grow to a spectacular extent, as much as doubling in the decades to come. Ways of increasing productivity with existing technologies, such as automation or ‘lean management’, are quickly running out. In Germany there is even talk of the need for a fourth industrial revolution (following the steam engine, the conveyor belt and industrial robots), in which factories are made ‘intelligent’ on a grand scale. Before long it will no longer be enough to be highly advanced. The factory of the future will think for itself, correct itself and continuously improve. The key themes will be: zero defects and first-time-right, and the challenge of having even highly complex or fast processes meet these requirements.

Good starting position in the Northern Netherlands
The ‘intelligent factory’ calls for all sorts of top quality knowledge areas, mostly IT-related, which the Northern Netherlands has in abundance and have now been brought together in the new network. Advanced sensor systems, such as those organized by Sensor Universe amongst its members, will be very important to fathoming complex industrial processes. Knowledge about how to manage large data flows (in which ASTRON and Groningen University stand out) will be needed to make processes actually self-learning. The north also has a number of strong players in the northern industrial sector. The Smart Factory project at Fokker in Hoogeveen is due for completion. In this project 3 regional SME companies (Langhout en Cazemier, S&T and Irmato) have used advanced technologies, including sensor and data handling systems, to successfully optimize part of Fokker’s composite line. Also, Philips Drachten – another partner in the network – was recently singled out in the New York Times as one of the world’s most modern production companies. In the years to come the partners will be exchanging expertise about smart factories and gathering new knowledge with the universities and knowledge institutes. Pilot projects are also being carried out. The group will be presenting itself to the outside world for the first time in April, during the Hannover Messe – the world’s biggest industrial trade fair.

More information? Contact Hans Praat, Business Development Manager at praat@nom.nl or 06 215 184 93.
Source: NV NOM