RESEARCH

We perform research in support of the manufacturing industry. Below, you can read about how we help companies to innovate by way of very concrete and practical applications of results from pre-competitive research projects.

             

A smart monitoring system for early error detection eliminates machine downtimes at Atlas Copco and VCST

Manufacturing companies continuously try to increase their productivity, among others by avoiding machine downtimes. Early fault detection by monitoring the vibration pattern of components such as bearings and gears enables to realise a serious cost reduction and to gain considerable time. FlandersMake@.UAntwerp therefore developed a compact data acquisition and processing system that supports low-cost condition monitoring. Through a smart combination of low-cost hardware and software optimisation, this system is able to replace the expensive data acquisition systems that are conventionally used for condition monitoring. The system developed in the research project offers similar performances at one tenth of the cost.

The data acquisition system that we designed for vibration-based condition monitoring was successfully tested on typical applications of the industrial project members, such as the online monitoring of production machines at Atlas Copco and the grinding process for gears at VCST.

Connect Group increases its competitiveness with a new measuring method for determining the useful life span of capacitors

Tests have shown that the useful life span of electrolytic capacitors can be very variable. That is why Connect Group, a technology provider offering completely assembled systems and industrial PCB and cable assemblies, implemented a new methodology for determining the quality of the capacitor components that it has in stock. 

Capacitors are very scarce and therefore come with long delivery terms (4 to 5 months). Sometimes, a rapid delivery is possible if stock components can be used. Obviously, they must be sure that the quality of these components is still satisfactory.

Connect Group, has developed, together with Flanders Make, a relative measuring method to measure the capacity of capacitors using a method based on two specific frequencies. Connect Group, applies this method on 2 motherboards for industrial applications (equivalent to 100 capacitors), thus avoiding delivery terms of 20 weeks and more. Thanks to this measuring method, Connect Group, is able to raise its competitiveness by offering high-quality products within shorter delivery terms and avoid penalties linked to late deliveries.

Jabil offers new services for testing and validating supercapacitors with a newly developed test set-up

Flanders Make developed a methodology for the accurate testing and validation of supercapacitors. This methodology includes:

  • an optimal design for accelerated lifetime tests
  • techniques for establishing performance parameters of supercapacitors
  • techniques for performing reliability analyses 

Based on this information, Jabil, a company manufacturing electronic devices, set to work to build a cost-effective test set-up for determining the useful life span of supercapacitors. Comparing the test results of Flanders Make and Jabil showed the reliability of the applied test methods so that Jabil’s new test set-up for the validation of supercapacitors could be implemented within a relatively short period.

The test set-up is now used for performing tests for their customers.

Cost-effective quality assurance solutions tailored to Bekaert’s requirements

Bekaert is a global market and technology leader in steel wire transformation and coatings and was in search of a cost-effective and accurate production monitoring system. For this, only expensive sensor systems are currently available on the market. The research objective was designing a cost-effective solution that still meets all quality requirements for continuous online product quality monitoring.

Flanders Make developed a methodology for selecting the right sensors. Subsequently, we developed adaptive algorithms that are able to handle variables within production environments such as ambient factors and different product types.

The research model was validated on a Flanders Make demonstrator. The system that has been designed is up to 20 times cheaper than commercial solutions, with equivalent results. Bekaert already validated this new-generation online monitoring platform for the quality assurance of steel wire products in their production facilities.

Smarter heat pumps give Daikin a competitive edge

Machines and devices must become increasingly silent and show ever better performances. This also applies to heat pumps. It is still a frequently occurring misconception that (the outdoor unit of) a heat pump may cause noise nuisance in one’s own garden and for the neighbours as, in the event of an outside air heat pump, it houses the compressor and fan.

Daikin, a multinational specialist in air conditioning, refrigeration systems, chemicals and defence systems, continuously invests to make its products even quieter. They worked closely together with Flanders Make to develop their Low-Sound Cover, a compact and multifunctional cover that is easy to install and limits the noise impact of (existing) systems without affecting their performances.  FlandersMake@.KULeuven helped Daikin to select the material, optimise the design and assess its operation. We jointly designed a methodology and procedure to easily establish and improve the acoustics of the elements in the Low-Sound Cover.

Siemens PLM Software helps designers with first-time-right solutions for the design of powertrains

Sound radiation and unintended vibrations are important differentiating characteristics for powertrains in vehicles and machines. Often, these noise and vibration phenomena are caused by gear contacts. FlandersMake@.KULeuven and Siemens PLM Software worked in the past few years on advanced simulation methods to correctly predict gear contacts in powertrains so as to map the dynamic behaviour of drives.

One of the technologies that has been developed is a parametric mesh generator for building finite element models. This parametric tool allows to quickly and effectively build suitable 'meshes' (or element networks) from the powertrain components, such as gears, which in a next step are used in applied contact modelling algorithms. This method allows to simulate the dynamic behaviour of complex systems, in this case (components of) powertrains. In this way, designers can realise a validated design in a much more efficient way.

Siemens PLM Software already integrated the technology in its Simcenter 3D, a new-generation software tool for designing powertrains.

Marlinks has the wind in its sails with correct localisation data of offshore power cables

Offshore power cables are buried into the seabed to protect them from damage caused by, for instance, anchors or fishing nets. However, the seabed is not a static landscape but is continuously in motion. It is therefore crucial for owners of power cables to know the actual depth at which their cables are buried. Marlinks wanted to develop a new method for monitoring the depth by using temperature measurements. Algorithms were developed by combining a sensor system detecting the heat profile of the entire cable with historical data and knowledge of the seabed and its morphology.

These algorithms must be able to process a great many data. Then, in between the coast and wind turbines, about 50km of power cables must be monitored, with another 50km between the different wind turbines. FlandersMake@.UGent and Marlinks developed and implemented the following technologies:

  • a thermal cable model of the power cable
  • a thermal model of the seabed
  • a procedure for identifying parameters in both models
  • a virtual sensor assessing the burial depth of cables
  • a method to accelerate the processing of registered data

Magnax invests in electric motors

From its facilities in Kortrijk, Magnax develops axial-flux electric machines. Two years ago, the company developed the first prototype of a generator for the use of wind energy. Meanwhile, Magnax moves up a gear with a clear focus on the ongoing electrification of the automotive industry, proceeding with the design, manufacturing and integration in powertrains of compact, efficient and high-speed electric machines. So as to be able to attain these ambitions, Magnax complements its own expertise with knowledge from FlandersMake@.UGent.

In 2019, the first batch production model of the commercial motor will be produced. It concerns a very compact machine with a diameter of a mere 275mm and an axial length of +/- 12cm for a peak power of 300 kW at 8000 rpm. The machine has an extremely high nominal efficiency of 95%, achieving this high power density (15 kW/kg) among others thanks to the patented cooling principle. Flanders Make will test the motor on its test bench in Lommel.

Movilitas goes for first-time-right assembly solutions thanks to operator support

It is important for manufacturing companies to be able to monitor every component of their product – from the suppliers through the assembly up to the delivery to the end customer. Track & trace software plays an important part in this, particularly if this information is used to support operators in the assembly process with digital work instructions. Then, customers increasingly require personalised products, which obviously raises the workload of operators. They can no longer know every assembly process because the variation is simply too big.

FlandersMake@.UGent therefore developed a generic system for sharing operator information (Generic Semantic Model for Assembly Information), which can be integrated in existing information systems such as Veri954MAKE, the track-and-trace software of Movilitas. Maximum compatibility is important in this context to realise an economically interesting solution. Today, Movilitas, a global player in the field of MES solutions (Manufacturing Execution System) with comprehensive expertise in the manufacturing industry, traceability, warehouse management and mobility, markets this software.  

Some other great realisations...

Televic Rail and Flanders Make developed an inexpensive and accurate position indication system for railway vehicles, which gives an estimate of the vehicle position with an error margin of 5 metre whenever the GPS signal is lost – for instance when driving through tunnels or valleys.


Reynaers Aluminium created together with Flanders Make a software tool to compose the ideal machine portfolio. 

 

EcoNation established contact with Flanders Make for the optimisation of the LightCatcher, its signature skylight.

 

Flanders Make developed together with, among others, Michel Van De Wiele and Picanol Group a model-based design tool for selecting the right energy technology for a rapid energy storage in machine drives.