Europe's largest automation research project gets underway
18 April 2013
March saw the start of the Arrowhead project, Europe's largest ever automation development research project, coordinated by Luleå University of Technology in Sweden.
The 68 million Euro, four-year Arrowhead project will demonstrate, through the development of advanced techniques, how various technological 'entities' can collaborate independently in order to optimise energy use in manufacturing and processing industry, energy generation, electrical mobility (electric cars) and smart cities (traffic lights).
"In the future there will be billions of connected entities in the world," says Jerker Delsing, a professor at Luleå University of Technology and thew project coordinator. "Arrowhead's purpose is to develop modern technology to enable these entities to communicate and automatically exchange services with one another. This will help reduce society's energy and water consumption, and its negative effects on the environment. The core of our technology must be so simple that the same technology works in completely different entities."
Industrial manufacturing may, through Arrowhead, become more flexible and efficient, without impacting the environment. When different technological systems are able to automate their cooperation on different levels and take into account several parameters to optimise energy use based on the price of energy and the environmental impact, production will become cheaper.
"This creates competitive advantages, and, at the same time, society achieves its environmental goals", says Delsing.
One of the demonstrations, which Arrowhead proposes for the future, is to cut by half the energy consumption of Europe's 4.5 million lifts, which currently consume 16-17GWh per year.
"A 'smart lift' can be used as a generator. Because the lift can independently communicate with the building or nearby charging stations for electric cars, lifts are able to borrow electricity in the morning. At the end of the work-day, the lift can function as a generator on a downward journey, by converting kinetic energy to electrical energy. Electricity from the lift is automatically transmitted back to the building's ventilation, cooling and heating systems and to electric cars, which get recharged," Professor Delsing explains.
Europe is currently at the forefront of automation. Over 20 large industrial companies within the field of automation, including Schneider, Metso, Thales, Acciona, SKF and Honeywell, are involved in Arrowhead. In addition, over 30 small and medium sized companies are involved, as well as more than 20 research institutes and universities from around Europe.