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Industry 4.0: INESC TEC project nominated for the EIT Awards

The Zero Defects 4.0 project - which will allow, through advanced predictive analysis systems, to anticipate defects in the production of wood-based panels, reducing the waste of raw materials and the energy consumption associated with the processes -, is nominated for the EIT Awards (European Institute of Innovation & Technology) 2020, in the Innovators category, which recognizes the development of products and services with a significant impact for a sustainable future.

11th November 2020

This nomination, which places it among the best European innovation projects, contributed to the fact that it is a cutting edge project in industry 4.0, applied to a sector typically perceived as traditional, and the fact that the results of the project are directly applied in a real industrial context.

Ana Machado Silva, Senior Project Manager at Sonae and project coordinator, explains: “The Zero Defects 4.0 collaborative project created a decision support system in the production of Sonae Arauco's wood-based panels. With this development, which incorporates cutting-edge artificial intelligence, it will be possible to predict the best combination of process parameters, which is expected to culminate in a reduction of defects, up to a level of zero defects. ” And he adds: “This nomination for the EIT award, in the Innovators category, is a recognition of the potential of this project in a European context of industrial innovation.”

By using data from the industrial process itself, Zero Defects 4.0 will not only reduce the incidence of non-compliance, increasing the quality of the panels produced but also achieve the highest possible efficiency, namely of resources, through the reduction of waste.

This collaborative and disruptive innovation in the industrial context is the result of the work of a consortium that combines the production experience and the industrial vision of Sonae Arauco with the research and data analysis capabilities applied to the industry at INESC TEC, Faculty of Engineering, University of Porto (FEUP) and Laboratory for Manufacturing Systems and Automation (LMS, University of Patras, Greece); with the experience in technology and innovation of InnoWave, a Portuguese technology-based company operating in several continents; and with Sonae's project management know-how.

INESC TEC participates in this project through its Centre for Enterprise Systems Engineering (CESE), which is in charge of mapping the production processes of the wood-based panels, in order to understand and identify the main parameters that have an impact on production with zero defects.

The wood-based panels are applied in kitchens, furniture, floors, and interior decoration.

Impact on business and the environment

The project now named will have a direct impact on reducing the waste of raw materials and the energy consumption associated with the processes. Currently, the non-conformities of wood-based panels, solutions for application in kitchens, furniture, floors, and interior decoration, lead to the waste of raw materials for the production of sub-optimal panels and constraints in the supply to increasingly demanding industrial customers.

The consortium estimates that Zero Defects 4.0 allows, in an initial phase of the project's start-up, a 10% reduction in quality non-conformities with a gradual increase, by automatic learning of the implemented models, until the final view of zero defects. In addition, the project will result in productivity gains, leveraged by a greater availability of the production line, resulting from the improvements generated by the data in the decision processes. “

The project started in January 2020 and will end later this year. As the validation is successful, now being implemented in the Sonae Arauco industrial unit in Oliveira do Hospital, the commercialization and implementation are scheduled for 2021.

Zero Defects 4.0, which involves an investment of more than € 500 thousand, is co-financed by EIT Manufacturing, one of the EIT's innovation communities, an entity created by the European Union that aims to foster technology and innovation initiatives in Europe.

Candidates will present and defend their projects on December 8th and the winners will be announced on the 9th of the same month.