Below you can find a list of all the publications available to download.
Articles and Whitepapers
Title: Ireland, Manufacturing & The Fourth Industrial Revolution
The past 20 years has seen immense change driven & enabled by digital technology. Facilitated by ubiquitous; sensing, compute & connectivity, the evolution from the ‘Internet of Screens’ to the ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT & Industrial IoT) is having a profound impact. When coupled with emerging capabilities like; big data, machine learning & AI, these breakthroughs have created not only the possibility but the inevitability of near future intelligent manufacturing & supply chains.
The question of whether an epoch distinction should be made between previous eras and the current one (variously labelled “Industry 4.0”, “Connected Industry”, or “Smart Manufacturing”) has been a source of debate within industry for some time. IMR’s viewpoint is that we are clearly in the midst of something new & transformative and that for organisations, it is important to recognise it as such – so that opportunities and risks are not viewed through a ‘business as usual’ lens. The label by which you choose to identify it is secondary to: a) understanding what is involved in leading such change & transformation, b) your organisation’s positioning and readiness for the journey and c) defining a strategic roadmap for the future.
This IMR white paper, in addition to setting the context around digital change & transformation for manufacturing & supply chains, addresses key topics such as ‘dematerialisation’, i.e. where the utility & functionality that previously resided in physical things is increasingly defined and delivered by software. It also addresses ‘servitisation’ where business value, through increasing connectivity of; products, factories and supply chains, can be realised in the form of services. The paper also highlights & elucidates that at the core of digital strategy there needs to be, not only an understanding of the underlying technologies (which are comprehensively detailed), but also an awareness of critical capabilities such as; strategy & architecture, innovation & change management and an understanding that sustainability & cybersecurity are both necessary enablers for and consequential requirements of future production. Competing in the digital economy age requires organizations to think beyond traditional business boundaries to develop understanding of the role & impact of business and technology ecosystems and platforms. Finally the paper provides an outline for a suggested approach and the opportunity for participating organisations to connect to further IMR research & work in this area.
Title: IIoT case study. Data transfer and collection
The recent increase of interest in IoT is seen as an opportunity as well as a risk. The domestic consumer market is more flexible to the introduction of IoT as demonstrated by the fleet of IoT devices available. Industrial environments are much less inviting due to their restrictive nature. There are few reasons which include security, robustness, and ease of integration of these systems.There is a difference between IoT and industrial IoT (or IIoT). While IIoT can be seen as a subset of IoT, it is different in terms of application requirements, objectives and complexity. While domestic IoT devices are mostly focused on making life easier, IIoT focuses on different areas such as operational equipment efficiency, preventative maintenance, traceability, etc. The potential is massive, but technology adoption is not as straightforward.IIoT is slowly being adopted into manufacturing facilities – especially amongst MNCs. Being so new, it poses different challenges to the pioneers in the field – be it integrators, factory owners or creators of IIoT solutions. This document outlines some of them using a real-life project as an example.
Title: Minimising Changeover Times in Manufacturing Processes
Every manufacturing process has periods of time where resources/machines are unavailable due to tooling changes, material changes, part changes, program changes. These events are referred to as “changeovers”, or alternately as “setup”, or “planned downtime”. Changeover times can last from a few minutes to as much as several weeks. Reducing the changeover times is a problem of interest as it will boost the plant capacity, and help increase overall output. There are many ways to reduce changeover times. Here in particular, we exploit the fact that the changeover matrix is asymmetrical (see fig 1). Changeover time between two products p1 and p2 is different from p2 and p1. For instance, if you are changing from dark chocolate ice cream to white milk ice cream, you must make sure the system is very carefully cleaned. Any smudge of dark chocolate remaining will stand out in the white milk ice cream. The other way around, however, will not be as much of a problem.
Figure 1 (Changeover times in minutes) A mathematical model based on the well-known traveling salesman problem is implemented in Python using Pyomo (open-source optimization modeling language). Optimal results are obtained by using open solvers such as CBC (Coin-or branch and cut) that exploit the mathematical model to find the best sequence of changeovers based on the constraints described by the model.
Title: Psychology in Manufacturing
Once a new software or machinery is developed and integrated in a manufacturing environment many issues arise around the interaction between the new technical system and its human users. The biggest concerns emerge around products’ usability and safety, and, even more important, user’s needs and motivations in adopting it. Only by investigating and addressing these concerns, a company can deliver not just an excellent product, but also an outstanding one. To be able to successfully face these issues it is essential to work alongside psychologist and user experience professional specialized in creating easy, comfortable and safe human-machine interactions while increasing user’s engagement. The IMR’s team includes psychologist and user experience experts, who are ready to support you in incrementing your company productivity and product’s quality, by improving your clients’ and operators’ overall experience.
“Industrial automation and robotics are nothing new within manufacturing. However, a new paradigm is emerging which blends manual and robotic activities. Where traditional automation solutions have been isolated from the human workforce for safety reasons, new sensorised and aware robotic systems – or collaborative robotic systems (Cobotics) – are now becoming commonplace, allowing these systems to be integrated into the human workforce. Now, for the first time, it is possible to combine the human and robot capabilities, expanding the reach of both. The flexibility offered by these Cobotics enables the robotic system to be repurposed quickly for various tasks according to the needs of the plant floor, changing the way we see automation. This, however, brings an additional complexity to automation design, requiring the consideration of the needs and behaviour of the operator, implying among other considerations a human-centric design aspect in automation.
Title: The Circular Economy for Manufacturing
The circular economy is a concept which has been gaining increasing traction over the past 10 years, to the point that the European Union has launched a set of directives specifically aimed at developing it within its member states. It promotes the decoupling of economic growth with resource consumption, by increasing the efficiency of inputs used all along the value chain. IMR is now positioning on this market segment in order to help Irish manufacturers identify potential opportunities that the circular economy could bring in terms of sustainability, whether it is economic, environmental or social.
The traditional way of consuming products is linear, with the three stages being made, use, and dispose. This linear economy has especially helped our society grow in the second half of the 20th century with cheap single use components that were introduced in the design of most products, rendering them accessible to all consumers. However, scarcity of raw materials and disposal problems (CO2 emissions, littering) are forcing us to implement more sustainable solutions. That is why the circular economy looks at the design of a product or service; its utilisation, and its end of life and will try to find new ways and processes to achieve higher sustainability levels. Numerous companies all around Europe are putting this concept to use now. Incorporating the circular economy into business models can help companies achieve competitive advantage by cost strategy, differentiation strategy and by focus strategy. Strategic planning by developing circular opportunities give companies core competencies which allow them to be more competitive and resilient along the value chain, from the pre-use to the post-use phase. Designing out the waste, building industrial symbioses or reusing products are only examples of the myriad of opportunities that arise from the circular economy.
IMR is now looking for projects in circular economy and has applied for EPA and SEAI projects already. We are now in the process of finding partners for Horizon 2020 calls. We are also looking to carry out projects with private partners revolving around the likes of industrial symbiosis, servitisation of products, and reverse logistics.