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INESC TEC develops strategic and technological plan for the Advanced Production Systems sector in the Entre Douro and Vouga region

On May 9, INESC TEC presented the i4.0 strategic and technological plan for the Advanced Production Systems (SAP) sector in the Entre Douro and Vouga region, developed within the scope of the SAP 4.0 project; the event took place at the SIMOLDES group test centre, in Oliveira de Azeméis. The session also featured the presentation of a success case within the scope of digitalisation, promoted by the company SIMOLDES PLÁSTICOS S.A.

12th June 2023

The Advanced Manufacturing Systems sector is closely associated with Key Enabling Technologies, namely Advanced Manufacturing Systems, Nanotechnologies, Materials, and Information, Communication and Electronics Technologies (TICE) – combining scientific and technological competencies and infrastructures, and relevant user sectors. In this sense, the SAP 4.0 project focused on several sectors: manufacturing of equipment and accessories for the automotive industry; manufacturing of machinery for the industry, and manufacturing of technical metallic products in the region of Entre Douro and Vouga.

“The companies of Entre Douro and Vouga are characterised by a strong industrial component and manufacturing specialisation, with an unusual innovative dynamic. This region is driven by cooperation and synergies, with several sectors featuring production technologies with high technological intensity”, explained Rui Rebelo, Filipe Ferreira, Pedro Senna and Daniela Silva, INESC TEC researchers.

The SAP 4.0 project, promoted by the Business Association of Oliveira de Azeméis (AECOA) and the Business Association of Santa Maria da Feira (AEF), aimed to qualify and aggregate the Advanced Production Systems sector according to models of technological evolution – based on knowledge and innovation – and to help companies becoming more efficient, competitive and sustainable.

INESC TEC was the technological partner of the project, operationalising the objectives of SAP 4.0 and promoting tech-based innovation, through the transfer of new knowledge and technologies to the business fabric, translated into three major phases.

“The first phase aimed at characterising the sector and assessing the level of technological maturity of the companies in this sector, part of that region. This phase featured visits to companies, for on-site evaluation of processes and technologies in use, which allowed to measure the level of digitalisation. The project team concluded that most companies are still taking the first steps towards industry 4.0, preparing their communication infrastructures and adopting new production technologies, to increase the efficiency, agility and sustainability of processes”, stated the researchers.

The second phase was dedicated to the design of the strategic and technological plan i4.0, contemplating improvement strategies in the immediate, short and medium term, in order to boost the companies’ digitalisation. The plan also included a set of technology worksheets and recommendation practices for digital transformation.

Finally, the team disseminated and demonstrated the roadmap for industry and HR training. “The entities later disseminated the results among the sector’s companies, through a set of events and tools. Since then, the project’s digital platform ( has become very important, as have other dissemination and communication tools and the main subjects addressed”. According to Rui Rebelo, Filipe Ferreira, Pedro Senna and Daniela Silva, a set of dissemination and training events carried out throughout the project stands out – namely the Innovation Workshops on Digital Transformation, held at INESC TEC’s iiLab – Industry and Innovation Laboratory. “These workshops allowed companies to identify opportunities and challenges of the i4.0 digitalisation process, learn more about and test digital i4.0 solutions, and discuss processes and tools to design digital transformation strategies “, concluded the researchers.


An ambitious project for the qualification of the Advanced Production Systems sector

“AECOA acknowledges the work developed by INESC TEC, considering a very ambitious and pioneering project in the region, aimed at the positive differentiation and qualification of the Advanced Production Systems sector”. According to António da Silva Rodrigues, Chairman of the AECOA board, “the municipality of Oliveira de Azeméis is known for its economic strength and entrepreneurship capacity and is part of the wider Douro and Vouga region; certain municipalities share common challenges and willingness to progress, because that’s the only way we can move forward”.

“This is an excellent project, and we’re proud to be a part of it, together with AECOA. It’s a very ambitious and engaging endeavour. We aim to support it and move on to others, while supporting our companies on a daily basis. The differentiating nature of SAP 4.0 is associated with the participation of a technological partner like INESC TEC, which will contribute to improve the level of digitalisation of our companies”, stated Alferes Pereira, the Chairman of AEF.

“INESC TEC acknowledges the impact and value of the results, which will greatly contribute to the differentiation and qualification of companies in the region, supporting them on their way to the green and digital transition, thus generating resilience and promoting a future of sustainable growth”, mentioned the INESC TEC team.