TNO and Total Productivity are working together on the factory of the future

For over fifteen years, Total Productivity (TP) andTNOa pleasant basis for cooperation, including in theField Lab Flexible Manufacturingon theBrainport Industries Campus in Eindhoven (BIC). Here, supply and demand in the field of digital innovation and robotization are linked.

The BIC is an inspiring practical environment where production companies, educational and knowledge institutions and suppliers can use each other's knowledge, possibilities and network.

Fieldlab Flexible Manufacturing

TP participates in the Flexible Manufacturing Field Lab with awork cell equipped with VisualFactory (VF). This modular software system has various features, including supporting operators with smart, interactive work instructions that can significantly increase productivity. In addition, VF can also record all data from production processes, for example, which benefits quality control and traceability.

Dutch manufacturing companies are lagging behind in terms of automation

Both TNO and TP experience that, from a global and European perspective, Dutch production companies are not in line when it comes to digitization and robotization. This is where real steps need to be taken.

Tim Bosch, senior researcher at TNO, explains how TNO approaches this development: “When it comes to digitization, TNO thinks more in terms of opportunities than threats. Technology helps companies to become more competitive, to support employees better, to realize more attractive work, to make the manufacturing industry more fun, actually. Companies should seize those opportunities with both hands. In the Fieldlab Flexible Manufacturing, entrepreneurs get a good idea of ​​what innovations – and thus efficiency – are possible in the market.”

Digitization advice based on facts

What does the collaboration between TNO and companies such as Total Productivity look like in practice?

Tim Bosch: “TNO takes a broad and neutral approach to digitization questions from production companies. In the BIC we show various technological solutions for operator support on the basis of concrete demo setups, which we can also use in pilots at companies.
TNO also has a canvas operator support with which the right technology can be determined in a working session together with a company. The pilots are mainly intended to introduce organizations to digitization, to enthuse them and hopefully allow them to take that next step.

Dr. Tim Bosch Senior Researcher TNO

dr. Tim Bosch - Senior Researcher TNO

"Technology helps companies become more competitive, support employees better and create more attractive work."

During this pilot, TNO will evaluate the effects on quality, productivity and learning time. If a company becomes enthusiastic about something and we have worked out the business case with the company, then at the end of the pilot we provide contact with various suppliers that we know deliver a good product.

TP is one of these suppliers, but it is ultimately up to the company itself to make a decision. TNO is completely objective about that.” Such pilots naturally give Total Productivity interesting opportunities to present itself to the manufacturing industry.

Technology is a means, not an end in itself

For TNO, technology is always a means and never an end in itself. Every TNO pilot therefore starts by examining the characteristics of the current process, product and employees.

After all, production improvement only starts when the work processes are in order and all information is available, so not just stored in the heads of operators. The ultimately chosen solution must suit the company, the production process and the products themselves and – very importantly – the people on the work floor. And not the other way around.

Balance in people, resources and method

In this approach to technology as one part of a production improvement process, TNO and TP are a good match.

Alex Valkering, sales & marketing manager at TP: “We deliver productivity to companies. We do this by finding the right balance between people, resources and method, taking into account the available budget and the payback targets.

If you maintain that balance, you can produce efficiently in the Netherlands and you don't have to move to a low-wage country for this. Of course you have to invest first, but in the end you will save.”

Sparring partners

TNO and TP also regularly discuss developments in their field on other fronts. For example, TNO uses the practical experience of Total Productivity: Tim Bosch: “We sometimes run into problems in our work and it is nice to be able to share your ideas tests. TP, for example, has a sounding board role in a project in the RoboHouse Field Lab in Delft. Here we develop acanvas model for optimal collaboration between humans and robots. TP's input is very valuable to us in this respect. ”

Total Productivity is of course proud that an independent organization such as TNO sees them as a serious partner to improve productivity in the manufacturing industry. In this way, these organizations are building the factory of the future in a complementary way - on Dutch soil.

Alex Valkering, Manager Sales & Marketing TP

Alex Valkering - Manager Sales & Marketing Total Productivity

“We deliver productivity to companies. We do this by finding the right balance between people, resources and method. ”