New project helps metal construction companies innovate

The Flemish manufacturing sector needs a new incentive for dealing with current trends and challenges. In order to achieve this goal, Sirris and the Belgian Welding Institute (BIL) want to start a new project specifically for helping companies in the metal construction sector to overcome obstacles that seem to be blocking the path to innovation.

Apart from companies who always go for the latest technology, there is a large group of companies who employ little or no innovation, often because they don't know where to start.  In the past, Sirris carried out many different types of projects regarding services and innovation that involved a number of sectors. It emerged from this that mainly the smaller metal construction companies have difficulty in finding their way towards innovation. 

Complete transformation on seven levels such as that provided in the Made Different programme has also not been discussed with this group. This group would actually derive greater benefit from a more detailed approach to the initial key transformation, namely 'World Class Production'.

However, this does not mean that this category is suddenly going to rise to the highest level, but instead it would take specific steps towards introducing drastic forms of innovation in the manufacturing processes, by way of introducing new production technologies and processes for example. Significantly improving the production possibilities at those construction companies will make them more competitive and help them climb higher up the competences and innovation ladder.

Targeted approach to innovation

The new project 'Innovatie voor Metaalconstructiebedrijven' (InnovoM) will contribute in four different domains: organisation, production methods, materials and the product itself. These four domains are not unconnected, but actually interact with each other whereby each one overlaps the other. Each of these interactions can be supported by the experience and facilities of the research partners. Sirris and BIL would therefore like to propose an integrated approach around the interaction domains. 

The most significant challenges will be found in:

  1. Processability & assembly: new materials, minimising cost of tools and technologies, malleability, evolution towards minimum material usage and assembly.
  2. Material selection: cost price to quality relationship, strength calculations, hybrid materials, corrosion resistance and standardisation.
  3. Technologies: integration of various technologies. making the correct technology choices and implementing new technologies.
  4. Organisation: developing a long-term vision, interaction with customers and selecting batch or series sizes. 

As a small to medium-sized manufacturing company do you recognise these challenges and would you like to rise above them through innovation? Then you should call on the knowledge and experience of Sirris and BIL! By way of timely interventions or through small or larger projects, we can tackle these challenges together and come up with solutions within a short period of time.

Contact BIL: Bart Verstraeten, bart.verstraeten@bil-ibs.be

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