EU's Call for Proposals: Digital technologies for improved performance in cognitive production plants
Shortage in raw materials, increased energy prices and environmental constraints require the European process industry to improve its performance and flexibility and there are unexploited opportunities for digitising a large range of enterprises of very different size in the process industry.
Digitisation endows the production system with capabilities for analysis. This should enable the autonomous operation of the system based on embedded cognitive reasoning, while relying on high-level supervisory control. As a consequence, changes in the production process need to be detected and the system needs to be able to respond to these dynamic fluctuations, by adapting the production to stay within the target ranges of production costs and rate, as well as those of and sustainability parameters. A fully up-to-date interactive and self-learning process control integrated with management tools is essential to obtain an optimal efficiency, while maintaining adequate flexibility of the system in regard to changing feedstock, energy sources and product demand.
Proposals need to develop new technologies to realise cognitive production plants, with improved efficiency and sustainability, by use of smart and networked sensor technologies, intelligent handling and online evaluation of various forms of data streams as well as new methods for self-organizing processes and process chains. Furthermore, proposals should cover the full digital transformation of a complete plant or site(s) including e.g. data acquisition, communication, automation, analytics, modelling, prediction and standardisation of relevant data interfaces. The following elements should be considered:
- Improvement of online monitoring and innovative control technologies in terms of process performance and flexibility, maintenance needs and product quality;
- Digital retrofitting of existing assets, integration towards and holistic optimisation of operations, data-analytics, real-time capability, use role-specific representation of information, feedback control & detect deviations and adjust operations immediately decision support (e.g. advanced process control, reactive scheduling);
- Several among the following concepts: apply low-cost sensors for on-line assessment of product quality and integration into process control; robust optimisation methods to distributed targeted process monitoring; simulation methods for the analysis, characterisation and study of systems for enhanced operations and decision-making combination of various forms of data with cognitive insight to optimise and enhance resources;
- Replicability and scalability of the concepts should be considered appropriately.
Proposals submitted under this topic should include actions designed to facilitate cooperation with other projects; to enhance user involvement; and to ensure the accessibility and reusability of data produced in the course of the project.
Activities should start at TRL 5 and achieve TRL 7 at the end of the project.
The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU between EUR 6 and 8 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.
Improved capabilities for valid, reliable and real-time control logics of the properties, efficiency and quality of process streams and final products for existing and for more flexible process operation concepts:
- Show potential for improved performance in cognitive production plants;
- Increased production performance, energy and resource consumption, or waste or by-products production will be significantly improved by more than 20%. The targets should be quantified in the proposal and validated during the execution of the demonstration;
- Project outcomes should demonstrate a positive environmental impact, by reducing CO2 emissions compared to the state of the art and in the scale relevant for the different applications;
- Effective dissemination of major innovation outcomes to the current next generation of employees of the SPIRE sectors, through the development, by education/training experts, of learning resources with flexible usability. These should be ready to be easily integrated in existing curricula and modules for undergraduate level and lifelong learning programmes.
Relevant indicators and metrics, with baseline values, should be clearly stated in the proposal.
Illustration Photo: Command center of Itaipú Dam in Brazil (credits: Povl Abrahamsen / Flickr Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC 2.0))