Automation of factory logistics for European SMEs takes a digital leap

04/12/2017

VTT to lead a EUR 8.8 million initiative

Launched in October 2017, the L4MS (Logistics for Manufacturing SMEs) initiative supported by the European Commission will accelerate the automation of intra-factory logistics of SMEs. L4MS will completely digitalize logistics automation in factories. This will allow automation suppliers to develop and deploy logistics solutions 10 times faster and cheaper than the current price. L4MS opens the door for SMEs to utilize robotics and other advance technologies such as artificial intelligence and virtualization.

In a typical factory, the transport of parts and components accounts for 25% of employees, 55% of factory space, and 87% of the production time. While large manufacturers are quickly adopting mobile robots to increase productivity and flexibility on the factory floor, less than 2% of European SMEs use advanced manufacturing technologies. With SMEs representing 98% of the manufacturers, European industry is in danger of being left behind.

 

L4MS (Logistics for Manufacturing SMEs) is an acceleration program led by the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland. L4MS is focused on providing inexpensive and flexible logistics automation for SMEs, which requires no infrastructure change, no production downtime and no special expertise. "The deployment cost and time of mobile robots will reduce by a factor of 10. It will give never before seen flexibility and agility to SMEs for small batch production and will double their productivity", says the Coordinator of L4MS Ali Muhammad at VTT.

 

A double-sided platform for the logistics automation

 

L4MS will provide an IoT platform called OPIL (Open Platform for Innovations in Logistics), integrated with a 3D simulator as a cloud service for complete virtualization of factories. The OPIL will contain the latest navigation, localization, mapping and traffic management services for rapid and cost effective deployment of logistics solutions. On one side, OPIL will support the automation suppliers to develop and display the optimum logistics solutions to SMEs. And on the other side, virtual factories will support the decision-making process of manufacturing SMEs in selecting the best solution. "This is a unique opportunity for the SMEs to use robotics and enter the world of artificial intelligence as well as to network at the European level," says Kalle Kantola, Vice President, Research at VTT.

 

L4MS is a one-stop-shop, where European manufacturing SMEs will be able to acquire the complete service package including, not only the latest technology (OPIL+3D simulator), but also technical support, business mentoring, training for workers and finance for the modernization of production. All these services are provided locally on the doorstep of SMEs through a network of regional Digital Innovation Hubs connected to the L4MS.

 

The length of the L4MS acceleration program is 3.5 years, with a budget of EUR 8.8 million.

 

For more information about L4MS and how to participate visit www.L4MS.eu.

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