44: Industry in the Future: UTC an academic partner for enterprise

The ongoing digital transformation of industry is a major societal challenge. For UTC, accompanying a growing number of companies during the changes, the phenomenon represents an increasingly strategic field for studies. This Dossier zooms in on the university’s main activities and on the specific nature of its approach to the industries of the future.

44: Industry in the Future: UTC an academic partner for enterprise

Digital continuity a key-stone to Industry in the Future

Digital continuity of information is one of the key paradigms for tomorrow’s more agile, more productive industries. The UTC-Roberval Lab underscore this priority axis of its research. We present an overview, with illustrations.

Developing smarter, more connected, more tailor-made, less energy-guzzling, easier to make, maintain and recycle products … i.e., that will necessarily be more complex, whilst continuing constantly to lowering their time-to-market and design, industrialization and production costs, To meet challenges of this scope and nature, industrialists must forego “silo” type work (all pulling in the same direction): they need to better integrate and capitalize on their expertise – viz., integrate their data in the various professional branches involved,; so they can more readily access the information they needed to improve their efficiency, to make maximum re-use of existing data when moving on to new developments, to produce new parts ‘perfectly’ at a first go, to manage production in an increasingly agile manner …

This is the challenge of digital continuity, inasmuch as it designates the capacity to be able to use all the digitized data appertaining to a product or to a system throughout their life cycle. Likewise, given that data to be integrated come from very diverse sources and necessarily heterogeneous formats: 3D CAD-CAM, technical drawings, engineering documentations, spreadsheet (Excel) files …


A near-future, specific, research team

Of course, industrialists already have and use a number of life-cycle Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) systems, analytical tools to manage the data and facilitate sharing them among the professions of their sector: Product Data Management (PDM) for design related data, Manufacturing Process Management (MPM) for industrialization related data (manufacturing ranges, etc.) and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) for production related data (product nomenclatures, ‘manufacturing orders’…) However,; to the extent that these information processing systems were put together scientifically in the 1990s, they do not offer a sufficiently fine granularity to comply with today’s industrial challenges.

One of the UTC-Roberval Lab’s teams designs analytical “bricks” to improve the degree of granularity and to fluidify sector & professional exchanges. For the time being, the research focuses mainly on the aspect of digital continuity of information in product-process design and between engineering per se and production. But its scope of investigation is expected to expand. It can extend to development of decision aids that enable optimization of the production process, the machine tool maintenance and/or the quality of products produced or again to produce parts in an additive manufacturing mode … all the above themes are part of the industries of the future and UTC is working on them. They suppose integration of heterogeneous data streams. Digital continuity truly will be a key-stone to tomorrow’s more agile, more productive industries. And as of 2018 UTC-Roberval will assign a specific team to explore and analyse these fields.