Making digital solutions accessible

Digitalisation holds big potential for Europe’s manufacturing industry, but also comes with huge challenges. The initiative “end-to-end digitalised production testbeds” approaches some of these challenges.

The initiative end-to-end digitalised production testbeds invites start-ups, scale-ups, research and technology organisations (RTOs), universities as well as industry partners to collaborate and test their ground-breaking products and digital services.

Four EIT Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KIC) join forces in this initiative: EIT Manufacturing, EIT RawMaterials, EIT Food and EIT Digital. It is therefore referred to as one of the Cross-KIC initiatives.

What is a testbed?

Testbeds are a great opportunity to mirror real-life manufacturing sites, depicting either specific processes or scaled-down process chains. They enable an interaction with machinery and equipment and bring digitisation to life by making processes tangible and accessible.

The instalment of hardware components such as process machines, logistics equipment, etc., allows improving the efficiency of the depicted processes by applying digital solutions – which might include Artificial Intelligence technologies, virtual and/or augmented reality functionality, blockchain integration, 5G connectivity, integration of additive manufacturing processes. Participating partners can gain real-life manufacturing experience and can reflect situations of different complexities.

How to implement a testbed?

The implementation of a testbed includes selecting and integrating hardware components as well as collecting data provided by the components, or from external data sources that can be accessed or used. Alternatively, creating smart components by adding (low-cost) sensor technology can be considered. Finally, data processing and analysis need to be addressed, which use advanced methods to support decision making processes and derive optimisation measures.

“Testbed projects are an integral part of the activities which involve several EIT Knowledge and Innovation Communities. The advantage is that they connect partners not only from different countries but also from a variety of sectors. Testbeds allow us to accompany and support the final steps of innovations until they are proven in an operational environment.”

Adrian Bablok, Project Manager at EIT Manufacturing

Digitalised Testbeds for the food industry

With the following three testbeds, the Cross-KIC initiative targets the improvement of food production in a meaningful and productive way. Next to the reduction of food waste and loss, the improvement of the supply chain efficiency and effectiveness, the enhancement of circular economy is among the focus points of this project.

Involved KICs: EIT Manufacturing | EIT Food | EIT Digital

Location: Greece

TFOOD: Teaching factory for the food industry

Food loss reduction and supply chain efficiency are the key focus points of this digital testbed for the primary sector.

The consortium, consisting of partners from the milk processing industry, is working on a robotics-based demonstrator for food processing, applying autonomous pick-and-place operations to package small production batches. Furthermore, the testbed consists of digitised milk cooling tanks, which allows continuous monitoring, which results in better awareness of critical parameters for raw milk and in a reduction of food loss. A teaching factory builds the bridge between academia and industry and creates a basis for new synergy models.

“Thanks to EIT, we were able to provide an Industry 4.0 testbed providing as a service the required infrastructure and knowledge for developing, testing and validating digital and Advanced Manufacturing Solutions and IoT in a safe and cost-effective approach for the companies without requiring any significant capital investment, addressing food waste loss and other environmental indicators in the food manufacturing industry.”

Kosmas Alexopoulos – Research Engineer at LMS and partner in the TFOOD project
Locations: Germany, Spain, Netherlands

SAIFE: Safety through AI vision

The testbeds of the SAIFE-project focus on reducing the numbers of forklift accidents on European shopfloors – in a first step, the food industry was chosen for primary implementation.

The goal is to provide forklift drivers with real-time information about moving persons on the shopfloor in order to prevent accidents. This intelligent system works via decentralised AI sensors and visual detection, special software, and tablets on the forklifts.

“Thanks to EIT, we were able to make the food industry safer in the future through the synergies of the Cross-KIC partners.”

Sebastian Bienia – System developer in the SAIFE project
Location: Portugal

iFishCan: Intelligent food loss & waste monitoring for the fish canning industry

The iFishCan testbed is designed to support small and medium-sized enterprises in the canning industry, who want to reduce their food waste and their environmental impact.

Three main functionalities are part of the iFishCan solution including a Manufacturing Execution System (MES), an AI prediction tool for water, energy and waste efficiencies as well as a real-time process monitoring system. The mobile testbed helps companies to reach the mentioned goals by providing predictive power to the decision-making process and by optimising water and energy use. Furthermore, it is easily adaptable, flexible and scalable to different types of fisheries and products, with a high degree of customisation.

“Thanks to EIT, we were able to build a strongly multidisciplinary team formed by several start-ups and research and development centers from different KICs, which was capable of conceptualising and implementing an innovative technological solution addressing the Food Waste Loss and other environmental indicators in the food manufacturing industry.”

Idoia Olabarrieta Paul – Senior Research at AZTI and partner in the iFishCan project

Digitalised Testbeds for the e-drive sector

With a special focus on the e-drive sector, this testbed identifies high-potential areas for digitalisation-driven improvements and allows to derive suitable use cases. Furthermore, it addresses the industry’s most pressing manufacturing and processing challenges like the increase of recycling rates for critical materials from end-of-life (EOL) products and the improvement of their supply chains.

Involved KICs: EIT RawMaterials | EIT Manufacturing | EIT Digital

Location: Italy

eMOTOR-VTB: Recycled material-based e-motors

This digitalised testbed aims to evaluate electric motors made with recycled materials according to their technical performance.

It considers life-cycle assessment (LCA) of the final product, circular manufacturing processes and, by embedding a digital twin, supports AI-driven analytics. Additionally, the testbed incorporates motor fast redesign tools which will allow the consideration of recycled part characteristics, their production processes and how long-time performances can be affected due to the use of recycled motor parts. With this testbed, the project is working on solutions for an increasing independence from non-EU suppliers in terms of magnet production. In the future, also other active parts like copper conductors or magnetic cores and shafts will be included in the testbed.

Learn more about our testbed projects and be part of the EIT Community!