The innovation programme at Brainport Industries Campus
“This is where everything comes together”, Michel Weeda is in the middle of an enthusiastic story about the innovation programme ‘Factory of the Future’ that he is setting up at Brainport Industries Campus on behalf of BOM Renewable Energy. “New ways of, for example, 3D printing are not only developed and tested here but also implemented within the company.” For this purpose, residents of BIC – but also companies from outside the campus – make use of the technical facilities and work together with educational institutions to train talents. The programme consists of seven different parts, each of which will have its own place in the Atrium on campus.
Weeda is Programme Manager at BOM, together with Brainport Industries and the Province of Noord-Brabant he set up this innovation programme. The programme is built around various industry trends. Participating parties – more than seventy companies and six knowledge institutions – work together to develop new production methods and implement them, train talent and share knowledge among themselves. Trends include robotisation and automation: “This all comes together in the fieldlab Flexible Manufacturing. Here, for example, they work on smart, flexible robots that can be used in logistics. Or they develop a production process that can be adapted quickly and not produces just one fixed part, but a whole series with different properties. That is very variable. That requires smart machines and control,” Weeda explains.
In each fieldlab (see box), participating parties can experiment; students learn how to operate machines and further in the process, products roll out of the factory. Everything under one roof. Weeda: “It is unique in the world that training, innovation and production operate so close to each other. This allows us to reduce the time to market, which is necessary because the pace in the market is extremely high.”
To explain the origins of these programmes, Weeda takes a leap back in time: “When Philips pulled the plug on the Centre for Manufacturing Technology (CFT, Applied Technologies) in 2010, the desire soon arose to develop the existing knowledge into a kind of universal language for the entire supply chain. At CFT, Philips developed process techniques for companies such as ASML and other large companies. When Philips stopped this centre, there was a fear that knowledge would be lost. “You can imagine how valuable this knowledge is, not only production methods but also an incredible amount of system knowledge was present at Philips. Of course, we could not this to disappear. With the idea of spreading this knowledge among the suppliers, Brainport Industries came into being”, Weeda looks back.
Nowadays, machines are becoming more and more complicated, factories more flexible and data even more important. This makes it necessary to set up projects together and share more knowledge. By setting up strategic collaborations around various themes and critically examining whether a party adds value to a project, BOM contributes to the programme. Weeda: “The supply chain used to be a classic customer-supplier collaboration. Now you see that suppliers are increasingly involved in the design process at an earlier stage, which is first and foremost due to closer cooperation and mutual trust. But also, through data licensing; there is more data available that is shared to innovate faster. As BOM we have a broad network; we support various parties and identify trends in the industry and determine with partners how we can anticipate on these trends in Brabant, trends are for example datafication and photonics. We bring parties together around different trends.”
Despite the separate programmes and various trends, some things overlap each other: “Some developments have clear common ground from which new things emerge. In drawing up the programmes, we try to take that coherence and overlap into account. We must not want to define that too tightly, which can inhibit innovation. For example, it’s no longer science fiction that companies such as ASML and suppliers develop prototypes using AR or VR. Datafication and digitisation ensure that you can experiment virtually to improve that in reality. In addition to digital development, VR is an ideal tool for training and courses.”
In fieldlab education, Teclab and Summa work closely together with trade and industry, Weeda explains: “They work demand-driven. Pupils are introduced to what is expected of them in practice. But it’s broader than just training new talent because current employees also have to keep up with the future. Here, we want to do justice to the motto of lifelong learning by also offering or developing various courses,” explains Weeda.
On November 22nd Brainport Industries organises a kick-off event in cooperation with all participants in the innovation programme. The exact content of the programmes will be announced here.