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Cross-border cooperation continues irrespective of lock-down

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Published on Tuesday, 21 April 2020

The University of Luxembourg is part of several Interreg projects that support cooperation between local and regional partners from the Greater Region. PRODPILOT, one of these projects, focuses on analysing the status of productivity in terms of lean and Industry 4.0 using a self-assessment tool. A virtual workshop was recently organised with the six partners located in Belgium, France, Germany and Luxembourg.

Self-assessment productivity tool

Launched in 2019, the project PRODPILOT has reached out to over 90 manufacturing small and medium size enterprises (mSMEs) in the Greater Region and collected data using a self-assessment tool. Productivity improvement opportunities were suggested to companies and few case study agreements were made with some mSMEs. "In our preliminary analysis of the collected data, we found that despite having long term strategies concerning lean and industry 4.0 for productivity, mSMEs found it difficult to identify application areas and their impact on productivity especially industry 4.0 related areas", explain Prof. Peter Plapper and post-doc Meysam Minoufekr from the Department of Engineering at the University of Luxembourg. Driven by industry feedback, they initiated Augmented Reality (AR) application projects for complex assembly processes and are now considering to research on Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and Machine Learning applications for mSMEs.

At national level, the project is carried out by the team of Peter Plapper, Professor within the Department of Engineering at the University of Luxembourg. “Local stakeholders of the project, such as Luxinnovation and the Ministry of the Economy, encouraged us to extend the current research to logistics service companies. Indeed, the logistics sector is expanding rapidly in the Greater Region but no tool is available to measure their productivity and maturity levels”, explains Prof. Peter Plapper.

First virtual workshop

With the experience of developing a self-assessment tool for mSMEs, the consortium started to work on a similar tool for logistics service companies in early December 2019. Different workshop were planned with the partners to develop the tool. The meeting, initially planned in Saarbrucken on 2 April 2020 was organized online. “For us and for the consortium it was a different experience to have a daylong workshop exclusively online. We learned that good planning, preparation of workshop material way before virtual meeting are the key enablers for a successful and productive virtual workshop”, comments Sri Kolla, doctoral researcher at the University of Luxembourg.

The beta version of the self-assessment tool for logistics service companies will be available on PRODPILOT platform in the near future.