EU research & innovation projects are helping SMEs like Control 2K to develop new products and make the most of Industry 4.0.

Control 2K Limited was registered as an SME 18 years ago and at the time we were delivering industrial training, design and system solutions for the industrial sector. We have followed the technological developments all the way up to the 4th Industrial Revolution, Industry 4.0. Through foresight, we have kept pace and adapted to take advantage of this new paradigm.

On the road towards Industry 4.0 and digital transformation, we have been involved in several EU research projects that have made a real difference to us. For example, from the FLEXINET project, we got to grips with rapid re-configuration of manufacturing production systems and ADVENTURE gave us insight into cloud service architecture. FITMAN provided us with a low-cost open-source solution and CREMA gave us insights in how manufacturing processes can be monitored and controlled via the cloud. Now we are involved in the EU project DIGICOR, which will give us tools and ideas on how to create and operate collaborative networks across value chains.

Through our participation in these projects we saw very clearly that it was possible to bring research results to life in the form of a product and that’s how we developed our software toolkit called Industreweb4.0. The results (tools, ideas, lessons learned) from the 5 projects have extended the services offered by our manufacturing platform and these services are further being offered to a wider audience via the SMECluster portal.

Industreweb4.0 joins new and existing technologies to capture data and improve production efficiency. We see it as "the glue" that joins shop-floor systems to IT infrastructure, allowing companies to get tailor-made solutions and increase their profits. The benefits of the system include downtime reduction, elimination of errors and process visibility which, even with a few percentage points in improvements, can save businesses thousands of Euros.

The impact of EU research projects on Control 2K

The opportunity to be involved in EU projects was thanks to our partnership with the Technology Application Network (TANet), which brings together universities, technology centres and key business partners providing support to manufacturing SMEs in the UK.

As a commercial company, we bring real-life examples of problems and issues encountered in the manufacturing sector to EU projects. In addition, we have made available our production machinery at the Waterton Technology Centre in Bridgend (UK) to test and develop new products. In turn, we benefit from the research excellence of other partners, getting new ideas and synergies that we then apply to our own products.

Participating in projects such as CREMA and DIGICOR also gave us the possibility of opening new markets and learning about new solutions, such as the idea of "software as a service". This pay-per-use model makes software technologies much more accessible and affordable for companies because they just pay for the use of the software solution. For us this was a great idea that we strongly incorporated into the Industreweb software suite, enhancing the work we do with SMEs that need targeted solutions at affordable prices.

Bridging the gap between the research and industry worlds

After our successful participation in several EU research projects we have realised the importance of bringing results to the relevant industries. Companies, and especially SMEs, are always more interested in what products can do for them rather than the technologies that drive those products. We have always strengthened this message with our research partners in EU projects and we believe it is of utmost importance.

We must make research results understood by the market rather than leave them locked in the research world. That is why we organise several events such as the second CREMA workshop, which took place at our facilities in Waterton on 16 November 2017. There we showcased products and services that can help manufacturing companies improve their businesses and processes with digital technologies. Cutting edge concepts in industry4.0 such as “Digital Twinning” were presented, and we offered room for discussion with experts and practical demonstrations. The ultimate goal is to highlight the true results of EU project collaboration in a practical way and encourage other companies to make the most of the latest trends in manufacturing.