Savings in material and operating costs, less waste, added product value, greener operation. The positive results achieved by Czech manufacturing companies thanks to the collaboration with the Brain4Industry (B4I) consortium, the main coordinator of which is the Institute of Physics of the Czech Academy of Sciences, became the main theme of the Společná cesta k digitalizaci českých výrobců (Joint Journey of Czech Manufacturers towards Digitization) conference, which was organized on Wednesday, March 1, by B4I in partnership with the Czech Management Association. Over 60 representatives of companies and institutions, who gathered at the ELI Beamlines Facility in Dolní Břežany, evaluated the benefits of technologies such as 3D printing, lasers or artificial intelligence in the production process of specific companies.
The aim of the expert meeting was to present collaboration between science and industry to small and medium-sized companies in the form of success stories. Success stories are intended to serve as inspiration for other companies looking to expand or transform their business, move up the value chain or gain a competitive advantage.
"We focus on comprehensive services and the application of all digitization technologies in industry so that our customers and industrial partners can take full advantage of all the benefits of these technologies and have the opportunity to further develop their market potential and competitiveness both in the Czech Republic and abroad. Our goal is to contribute to collaboration between scientific research organisations and industry," explains Andrej Chrzanowski, B4I Director.
The conference featured, for example, Beneš a Lát, a leader in the foundry industry, which has saved CZK 1.2 million in three years thanks to digitization. With the help of artificial intelligence, it is now able to plan the maintenance of a large number of machines more efficiently. Česká zbrojovka, a.s., a traditional arms manufacturer, has accelerated the preparation of prototypes of its products by up to 50% thanks to 3D printing.
Kompan Czech Republic, using the topological optimization method, has reduced the amount of material for the production of one of its components by 30% without changing its quality. And ProSpon, a manufacturer of implants and medical instruments, for example, used the recommended laser technology to significantly extend the lifespan of a hip implant, thereby increasing patient comfort many times over, based on a digital audit.
"I am very pleased that today's event is taking place in Dolní Břežany and ELI Beamlines in particular. For me, they are symbols of the future of the Czech Republic and an example of where we can get to by systematically supporting collaboration between companies, universities and research institutes. It is modern technologies such as digitization, automation and robotics that can kick-start the Czech economy. Using specific examples, we would like to show the way out of the "cheap economy" trap and support the Second Economic Transformation," said Radek Špicar, Vice President of the Confederation of Industry of the Czech Republic, at the beginning of the event.
All in one place
Brain4Industry's existing infrastructure includes the know-how and technology of its five current members: Institute of Physics of the Czech Academy of Sciences (specifically the Division of Optics and HiLASE Centre), Institute of Thermomechanics of the Czech Academy of Sciences, CARDAM, Central Bohemia Innovation Centre and STAR Research and Innovation Cluster. In the middle of this year, a new building of the innovation centre in Dolní Břežany will be completed with specialised facilities and technological equipment for broad advancement of research and development activities of Czech industrial companies. The technological equipment will include, for example, various types of additive technologies for the processing of metal and polymer materials, post-processing production technologies, facilities for the processing and use of data from production processes, as well as educational facilities and shared offices. In addition, the future laboratories will allow companies to test their intentions to verify the functioning of their intended innovations before investing in expensive technologies.
"As a start, we recommend all companies to complete a DTA (Digital Maturity Assessment), where we focus on the entire product and service lifecycle and on the basis of which we prepare a comprehensive long-term Digital Strategy for the company in cooperation with the customer, including implementation steps, communication strategy and return models. Our expert team will also help them identify and define new business opportunities built on digitization technologies," adds Andrej Chrzanowski.
Companies can complete the initial analysis free of charge. Its results will reveal potential savings and new technical or operations solutions. Experts from the consortium will help with defining company needs, suitable software, equipment, staff training and financing of the entire project. Thanks to a European grant, at a fraction of the price companies would otherwise pay on the market.