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DIGITbrain project enables SMEs to benefit from digital twins

Illustration of Digital Product Brain concept
The EU funded innovation project DIGITbrain aims to enable small and medium-sized (SME) European manufacturing companies to benefit from AI-based digital twins. Tampere University is involved in the project as part of the Smart Machines and Manufacturing competence centre SMACC providing digital innovation hub services.

The target of DIGITbrain is to give SMEs easy access to digital twins by further developing a particular 'Digital Product Brain' which will store data throughout the entire life cycle of a production line or a machine.

“By collecting this data, it will be possible to customise and set-up machines or production assets for very specific manufacturing tasks whenever needed. This enables a new manufacturing model, called Maas (Manufacturing-as-a-Service) that allows on-demand production of more specialised products, even in smaller quantities and still in an economically profitable way,” explain Eric Coatanéa and Kari Koskinen, both Professors of Manufacturing and Mechatronics at Tampere University involved in the project.

Eric Coatanéa leads the Manufacturing systems research (MASYRE) group at faculty of engineering and natural sciences. The group collaborates directly with industrial partners in the frame of DIGITbrain.

Searching for more collaborators for experiments in Open Calls

The project is composed by a consortium of 36 partners. During its lifetime it will attract further 35 to 40 collaborators in two Open Calls for experiments, mainly technology and manufacturing SMEs.

“Twenty highly innovative industrial solutions will be demonstrated by over 20 application experiments illustrating how the Digital Brain and its lower level services can be utilised to empower SMEs with MaaS,” says project manager Hari Nagarajan from Coatanéa’s research group.

One of the outcomes of the project is Digital Marketplace. It provides the necessary graphical user interfaces (GUIs) in view of configuring and monitoring the Digital Brain for an industrial-product instance and will handle the access rights to the Digital Brain’s instances.

Digital twins help SMEs to tackle the challenges of digitalisation

The global manufacturing industry is a challenging environment, since today's customers have new requirements regarding the personalisation and the interoperability of new products and technologies. At the same time, legislations, regulations, and norms are becoming stricter; the environment calls for more protection and less pollution and the aging of the workforce jeopardises the collective know-how.

Keeping pace with competitors often requires considerable investments in the latest digital technologies and advanced equipment, which is particularly challenging for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) who often can't afford such investments or can't tell if they will turn out worthwhile.

A digital twin is the virtual representation of a product, system or process that simulates its physical attributes in the real-world in real time. By collecting data from its physical counterpart, manufacturers are enabled to streamline the manufacturing process and make predictions with regard to machine failures or maintenance needs.

The DIGITBrain project is funded by Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme (grant agreement number 952071) by the European Commission, for three and a half years with over 8 million euros. It is coordinated by PNO Consultants. The project started on the 1st of July in 2020.

Read more on the DIGITbrain project website and on SMACC website.

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