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Flexible, environment-friendly packing system using advanced vision technology and recyclable/homogeneous materials.

Study, develop and produce a new integrating packing system
using recyclable/homogeneous materials, with open
architecture, advanced distributed information system and
machine vision for just-in-time (jit) enterprises.

The system, in order to respect market and environmental constraints, must fulfil the following main requirements: - JIT (just-in-time) packing - Eco-efficiency - Easy integration into JIT enterprises - High productivity - High flexibility - Evolutivity - Easy configurability of the plant. The project aims to develop a demonstration version of the proposed packing system which will be applied to one or both of the following production areas: * furniture * electrical domestic appliances. The proposed system, thanks to its modularity and flexibility, would also be applied to many other production areas, such as paper reams, building panels, palleted products. The first aim is to produce a demonstrator for the furniture sector, taking into consideration JIT production requirements and the very high variability in product dimensions. This will allow the proposed system to be tested under the most critical conditions. The eco-efficiency requirement will be achieved by reducing the number and volume of materials in order to allow easy recovery, re-use and recyclability of the packing and develop processes with low environmental impact. Research on new materials will be carried out to manage JIT/eco- compatible packing. In order to respect the high flexibility requirement, the system will be equipped with an advanced vision system which will detect the item to be packed and this will provide a feedback signal to the packing machine controllers for dynamic adaptation of the product's shape. The quality of product/process will be ensured by the integration of automated quality inspection systems which will provide continuous feedback to the new, Real-Time packing management system. The high productivity requirement, combined with the need for high flexibility, calls for high processing and dataflow transmission speed. For this reason, the proposed project aims to develop and integrate solutions based on advanced, high speed technology in the industrial world. The computing/communication system (hardware and software) that will be applied to the advanced manufacturing/packing process control and supervision, will combine high dataflow, high performance computing (video analysis for quality inspection), Real-Time control managing an agile JIT production/packing system. The project will carry out the following detailed work: a. Definition study Market analysis, study of the current packing technology and identification of target industries and their characteristics (packing materials needs, dataflow, volumes, Real-Time constraints, accuracy constraints, examination of existing technological environment for automatic systems, new requirements related to video analysis). There will be an investigation into image processing techniques and the technology to be used in a manufacturing/packing process. Definition of the packing application requirements in terms of supervision and control, speed and agility, performance, quality standards and Real-Time constraints. Definition of packing,eco-compatibility, materials/process requirements. b. Design/Implementation b.1. Design of the Generic Technology This includes the design of computing/communication technology and informative architecture, design of the image processing modules (hardware components, software libraries), design of adapted middleware to the environment and design of a Real-Time packing management system. b.1.1. Integration and Development of System Components This includes development and integration of an advanced, high speed computing/communication system, safety system, machine vision, PLCs, CNCs, middleware and the Real-Time production/packing management system. b.2 Research into new eco-compatible materials to be used for JIT packing This includes the study and choice of the packing materials best meeting all requirements of a pack with special regard to the eco-compatibility of the whole process. b.3. Design of a High Speed, Agile and Flexible Packaging Chain for furniture and/or domestic appliances. b.3.1. Design of a Flexible Manufacturing open architecture Chain for packing. This includes the study of the architecture of the packing system, coherent with new packing materials and with special regard to the eco-compatibility of the process. b.3.2. Design of the new packing machines This includes the design of all the packing machines, the definition of the interfaces to the system, design of the interfaces with vision and quality-check system. c. Implementation of the System with the Generic Technology including construction of the machines, their integration into the system demonstrator, mechanical/electronic connection with the factory/enterprise JIT network. d. Testing Definition of test cases and testing of the machines both in stand-alone and integrated mode, testing of the whole system connected with the factory/enterprise JIT network. e. Dissemination and Full Exploitation of Results and Standardisation Efforts e.1. Organisation of workshops, seminars, publications. e.2. Input for the development of new, eco-compatible materials. e.3. Input for the development of new, eco-compatible processes/machines. The project is planned to last three years, of which 6 months will be spent on its definition and 30 months on its implementation. Keywords: eco-compatible, flexible, Just-In-Time.
Project ID: 
2 007
Start date: 
01-05-1999
Project Duration: 
65months
Project costs: 
16 900 000.00€
Technological Area: 
Automation, Robotics Control Systems
Market Area: 
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Raising the productivity and competitiveness of European businesses through technology. Boosting national economies on the international market, and strengthening the basis for sustainable prosperity and employment.