Confluence Challenge | Challenges

Open Innovation


Challenge #1

Productivity forecasting

Solutions (that go beyond currently available DSS products) which can correctly forecast the productivity of specific production schedules and defined time periods, in order to dynamically optimise the use of human, machine, and financial resources.

Indicative Parameters:

  • Production schedule & overall workload;
  • Market trends driving product demand (based on historical data);
  • Availability of human resources (based on historical data);
  • Environmental and human factors affecting workers’ performance (temperature, timing, workforce size) during a shift;
  • Equipment factors: availability, performance, maintenance needs, downtime, etc. (realtime, connected to production/IoT data)

Challenge #2

Optimal utilisation of warehouse space

Solutions to optimise the design and use of warehouse space, and minimise internal transport of parts, finished goods, machinery, etc. Provide predictive plans for inventory management (location and ‘picking’ placement), based upon real time Industry 4.0 data covering production cycles (supply & demand + timing), available space, and capacities of automated warehouse equipment (standard or AGV forklifts).

Indicative Parameters:

  • Existing warehouse architecture
  • Production schedules
  • Inventory turnover rate and demand forecasting to replenish stock
  • Variations in amounts and types of materials in stock and their location
  • Time of delivery of materials (internally, or externally to clients)
  • Geometric characteristics of materials/products, including packaging parameters
  • Structural characteristics of shelving, pallets, and other storage components (type, form, etc.)

Challenge #3

Transportation scheduling optimisation

Systems for real time, dynamic delivery-routing optimization to reduce costs and carbon footprint while increasing efficiency and use of manpower/resources, and offering pricing options based upon clients’ priorities.

Indicative Parameters:

  • Dynamic data usage to include all open orders as they occur;
  • Order readiness timing (inc. production schedules);
  • Order volume, dimensions and destination;
  • Loading and positioning schema (from warehouse to vehicle);
  • Fleet characteristics and availability;
  • Required time of arrival;
  • Savings calculations in terms of cost and GHG emissions

Challenge #4

Bill of Materials (BoM) optimization

Solutions which can evaluate and compare all components of BoMs, leading to better choices of materials, or combinations of materials, used in the R&D and manufacture of products and packaging. Lower costs of design, manufacturing, and delivery should also result in a reduced carbon footprint for both the producer and clients.

Indicative Parameters:

  • Information and output should be suitable for R&D (future products) and modification of existing products
  • Dynamic use of data regarding material composition and interchangeability
  • Fluctuations in pricing for raw and recycled materials
  • Transport costs of current vs. alternative materials (upstream and downstream)
  • Energy costs of materials and impact on overall carbon footprint

Challenge #5

Circular approach to packaging

Systems to coordinate, collect and identify used packaging and products (non-exclusive to ISOMAT) for reclamation and recycling of materials.

Indicative Parameters:

  • Monitoring and maintenance of multiple collection points
  • Sorting, separation and recording processes for heterogeneous loads of materials
  • Identification of higher-value materials and tracking of overall market value of potential recycled materials
  • Cost-benefit calculations and forecasting (economic and environmental) of circular approach

Challenge #6

Smart labelling for hazardous substances

AI-based software which can identify and classify all potentially hazardous substances in a given product, compile Safety Data Sheets, and suggest the correct hazard and warning phrases and symbols/pictograms that should appear on packaging and containers in compliance with all current legislation. Taking into consideration products' sustainability and "green" transition, the software could also propose alternative raw materials in order to make the products safer for human health and the environment.

Indicative Parameters:

  • Real time updates to reflect changes in the regulatory framework
  • Increased efficiency and accuracy in label and safety sheet design and production
  • Calculation of cost savings from reduction of regulatory compliance labour, and/or errors, leading to waste
  • Advance notification of potential changes due to proposed and pending legislative or regulatory actions

Challenge #7

System to temporarily protect painted surfaces

Once aluminium profiles have been painted it is necessary to apply some means of surface protection to avoid damages during subsequent steps in the manufacturing process. Today this is achieved by applying a protective film. However, this solution is labour-intensive and very costly. An improved solution could involve the use of alternative protective coating/film materials and a suitable system (software and hardware) to automate and perform the process of applying the material onto the aluminium profiles.

Indicative Parameters

  • Current process is labour-intensive and costly - savings in time and money are paramount
  • Automobile manufacturers have a similar process already in use
  • The protective material will be applied to painted metal surfaces - must be non-reactive and removable

Challenge #8

Improved methods for painting composite materials

Substances or processes which can mitigate the variables associated with painting combined materials (aluminium/polyamide strips). The method used today to paint the aluminium/polyamide system is electrostatic spraying, which, however, is not ideally suitable for polyamide, leading to suboptimal results (bending of the aluminium rod, deformation and bubbles on polyamide strips).

Indicative Parameters

  • Variable temperature tolerance
  • Conductivity capacities of current materials
  • Chemical properties of paints used
  • Current production process and equipment

Challenge #9

Scrap-rate forecasting and reduction

Software system which can predict the amount of scrap material generated by particular existing and new aluminium profile designs, suggesting changes in those designs and/or production processes to eliminate waste.

Indicative Parameters

  • Integration with existing design software
  • Identification of design patterns that generate higher levels of waste (scrap) across product lines
  • Dynamic suggestions (during the design process) for design modifications
  • Real time cost tracking based upon design changes

Challenge #10

Smart Letter of Credit

Streamlining the Letter of Credit process to reduce time and costs associated with documenting and performing necessary transfers of information and funds to guarantee efficient ordering, purchasing and delivery of goods.

Indicative Parameters:

  • Credit history and current financial status of client
  • Security and privacy provisions (financial institutions, GDPR, etc.)
  • Customs and currency regulations
  • Third-party integrations with all intermediaries (banks, transport, brokers, etc.)
  • Physical proof of conditions of goods, transport, and delivery

Challenge #11: Open

Challenges brought forward by program applicants

In addition to the specific challenges set by the program's industry partners, the application process was open to entrepreneurs and researchers working on solutions to other types of needs and problems facing modern industrial enterprises.

The following are challenges which where proposed by program applicants and endorsed by ALUMIL:

  • 11.1: Coatings for sustainable temperature management on metal surfaces
  • 11.2: Coatings for depollution and disinfection of metal surfaces
  • 11.3: Software solution for enabling high-accuracy sales forecasting
  • 11.4: Computer vision for optimising aluminium dross skimming

Are you up for a challenge?

Are you a startup or research team? Are you looking to partner with established corporations and apply your know-how to create innovative industry solutions? Then this program is for you!