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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

Saint-Gobain: optimized maintenance, more resilient processes

UTC will accompany Saint-Gobain Sekurit as the latter implements preventive maintenances tools that rely on automated data analysis for product quality observations, in regard to certain line processes. 

UTC and Saint-Gobain recently signed an agreement with several aspects, one of which appertains to the concept of Industry in the Future. In this area, the aim is to engage on research projects in predictive maintenance with Saint-Gobain Sekurit, a key player in the world market for car window glass. “We now have some 30 factories round the world, all operating in a highly competitive, demanding market”, underscores Jean-Luc Lesage, Executive Director Operations at Saint-Gobain Sekurit and Managing Director for its ‘Europe’ branch. “What this entails is that we must be in a position to control our processes properly, covering product quality, delivery date assurance, but also the frequency of breakdowns and maintenance costs of our glass making machines”.

 

Shifting gear, upwards

This industrialist has used the principles of preventive maintenance for a long time now. He also implemented predictive maintenance methods, restricted nonetheless to only a few pieces of line equipment, without any direct incidence on the core of the glass making business, viz., the transformers. His objective is to shift gear upwards by making use of the data collected in the Sekurit factories and centralized over special data links and sensors that are increasingly equipping the company’s production lines. “Data Analytics (DA) will enable us to look for fine correlations, hitherto undetected, between the quality inspection results carried out on the glass products, the process parameters (temperature, pressure, etc.) and the operative intervention data”, explains Jean-Luc Lesage. “By analysis of this large amount of information, we hope to be able to make gains in terms of maintenance scheduling g frequencies and then amount of maintenance needed. But more than this, we expect that the added knowledge we gain from the analyses will enable us to improve process design and inherent resilience”.

 

Excellence on both banks of the Rhine

Over the past two years, our industrialist has conducted a few studies and launched pilot schemes, in the field of preventive maintenance, with one of the company’s academic, historic partners: Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule Aachen or RWTH Aachen)), in Aix-la-Chapelle (Germany). Collaboration with UTC will relate to other processes. “What we are interested in”, adds Jean-Luc Lesage, “is UTC’s expertise in process control and data analysis, but also the specific ‘signature’ of the Compiegne institution. French universities do not deal with problems in the same way as German universities or Hochschulen. When we work with partners who possess different cultures, different visions and background eXperience, we can enlarge the spectrum of our own skills and thereby move forward more efficiently”.

Moreover, just as is the case with RWTH in Germany, UTC-Compiegne is close to a Saint-Gobain Sekurit factory and a Saint-Gobain R&D centre at Chantereine (CRDC). “UTC research scientists will be cooperating with CRDC scientists and developers, relying on experience gained at the Chantereine factory site on the data as to machine breakdowns”, adds Jean-Luc Lesage. “The interest of this tryptic, we hope, is to achieve some concrete advances for our factories”. “The core of Saint-Gobain Sekurit’s technology is Franco-German, and therefore we must subsequently seek excellence on both banks of the Rhine”, sums up Sylvie Perez, Director CRDC, at Chantereine. “As we see things, it is especially advantageous for us at CRDC to be able to collaborate with UTC scientists in their fields of ‘excellence”’.