- Published on 30 Aug 2016
- External News
Business Impact of FIMECC
ARTEMIS-IA wants to know what the business impact of projects in Embedded Intelligence is, what members of our community think of the current funding possibilities and how they look at collaboration within Europe. ARTEMIS-IA was curious after reading more about the Future Ship Bridge Concepts and interviewed Kalle Kantola of FIMECC to get to know this SME a little bit better.
FIMECC is a member of the ARTEMIS Industry Association and is a Finnish SME. Could you tell the reader a little bit more about FIMECC?
FIMECC is a digital innovation hub for the manufacturing industry. We are owned by leading companies and research institutes who want to benefit from effective private-public partnership activities. We collect R&D demand and priorities from our shareholders and, based on those, create strategic research agendas for the most ambitious areas. We also implement these SRAs by building up programmes and other activities. For implementation we use national or international funding possibilities, like ARTEMIS / ECSEL-JU.
Currently, our R&D&I portfolio volume is almost €300 million and we combine the competence of 2200 people from over 200 organisations.
ARTEMIS Industry is very keen on co-creation and cooperation. How do you stimulate this within FIMECC and what role do funded projects have in developments within FIMECC?
Cooperation is also key in FIMECC. Our “secret” is the strong industry commitment which comes through the intensive involvement of companies and researchers in every activity. We put a lot effort into understanding industry’s needs. This is because we are getting results for them but, more importantly, we are doing this together with them. We have also been active in delivering the excellent results in a way that the wider audience can understand them and their impact. This is an important, but sometimes forgotten, feature in co-creation. As a result of all this, a true co-creation culture has been created among the FIMECC partners, which attracts new partners to join.
As there are always risks in ambitious R&D activities, the co-creation and funded project are a natural way to share these risks and to speed up the development. We all know that “no single one of us is as smart as all of us together”. If the co-creation is effectively led, the same applies also to speed. It is nice to see that effective co-creation also leads to joint business ventures.
Challenge Future Ship Bridge Concepts
FIMECC aims for high-tech results. Could you tell us more about the Future Ship Bridge Concepts?
The concept work was initiated in our user experience (UX) focused programme FIMECC UXUS, in which the futuristic bridge concepts based on user experience for three different vessels – tug, cargo and platform support vessel – were developed. The results were illustrated as scenario stories, concept pictures and 3D-animated concept videos. The idea behind the animations was to show clearly what is possible in the future by effective use of the emerging technologies. New concepts have already created a buzz in the maritime industry’s news services and social media, uplifted Rolls-Royce’s brand image as an innovative company and spread a UX mindset. So, they have made the concepts more market ready and initiated the work towards the concepts.
What was the motivation behind the concept?
The purpose was to renew the thinking of the maritime industry regarding ship operation. The concepts illustrates how novel technology can be used to support human operations. According to Rolls-Royce’s Mikael Makinen (President – Marine), the industry seems to have demand for these. "With the demands of environmental legislation and rising operating costs, ships are going to become more complex. Add to that the fact that skilled crews are already in short supply, then we see a distinct gap opening up between the complexity of ships and the competency of the people who will crew them. That will cause real problems for the industry, and we believe it is ship intelligence that will fill that gap."
Could you tell me a little bit more about the results of this concept/project?
Intensive research and several co-creation projects lie behind these results. The overall development has been led by Rolls-Royce, which has worked together with VTT's researchers and Aalto University to develop the new bridge, known as the Future Operator Experience Concept or ‘oX'. It offers the crew smart workstations, which automatically recognise individuals when they walk into the bridge, and adjust to their own preferences.
The windows of the bridge serve as augmented reality displays of the vessel's surroundings, including visualisation of potential hazards that would otherwise be invisible to the human eye. The system can, for example, pinpoint sea ice or tug boats and other craft that may not be visible to the crew, especially on large container ships.
The oX concept, has been developed by studying user experience on ships today, and will transform the operating environment for crews on board large cargo ships and platform supply vessels. Using advanced 3D animation to illustrate just what could be achieved in the next decade. The new concept will utilise the latest digital techniques to create safer and more energy-efficient ship operations. To achieve these results, we used a UX-driven concept design process, which included user studies.
You created the videos for a specific reason. What was it?
By visualising the concepts in an impressive way, the aim is to show what is possible in the future and to influence the key stakeholders in the maritime domain, such as shipbuilders, classification societies and regulators, to adapt the possibilities.
Although some of the technologies in the presented concepts seem rather futuristic, the basic technological solutions are already available. The challenge is that international maritime law does not allow most of them to be used without traditional equipment as well. The aim of these videos is to challenge the thinking between old and new technology and to highlight the benefits that modern technology brings.
The current status of development is that the concepts have been defined for each vessel while concept pictures and videos have been produced with TrollVFX. The next step is to implement the developed 3D models to a virtual reality head-mounted display.
Rolls-Royce aims to implement the concept solutions into real ship bridges in the future. When exactly do you expect real implementation and thus business impact?
As in every digitally disrupted industry, I would say sooner than you might expect. The industry is actually already working towards this vision in multiple frontiers. According to Rolls-Royce’s Mikael Makinen (President – Marine), "we are entering a truly exciting period in the history of shipping, where technology and, in particular, the smart use of Big Data are going to drive the next generation of ships. Over the next ten to twenty years we believe Ship Intelligence is going to be the driving force that will determine the future of our industry, the type of ships at sea and the competence levels required from tomorrow's seafarers. The new oX bridge concept is one example of ship intelligence, and it is a glimpse into the future where significant advances to navigation, efficiency of operations and safety at sea can be achieved.”
Do you expect other companies to implement your high-tech solutions?
FIMECC is a platform that aims to drive industry-wide changes. This is not possible to do alone, but together with the right partners. Therefore, we build co-creation programmes. The high-tech results are meant to illustrate the programme results and their wide impact so that we get enough joint effort to work for the wider change. This is important, especially in public funded programmes. The communication is also important in terms of increasing the market readiness and demand for the new solutions.
ARTEMIS-IA believes that funding is needed to make sure such high-tech solutions and technologies will be created. What is FIMECC’s position and do you often use funding schemes to support your research?
Public funding is important for risk-sharing purposes and to propel co-creation towards new ambitious targets. Using public funding we can assure that also the public interests, like the national or European aspects, are taken into account in the activities.
We have been lucky in Finland, as we have had our national PPP funding instrument since 2008. This has helped us to create the FIMECC’s strong co-creation ecosystem. FIMECC has been also active in the EU and this is the reason why FIMECC is a partner in Artemis-IA.
Which funded projects have contributed (directly or via shareholders) to the impact of FIMECC?
As a digital innovation hub there have been many projects and programs that have contributed to our success. Since 2008 FIMECC has been leading and coordinating 14 PPP programmes, the total value of which is €345 m, i.e. ~ €50 m per year. In addition, our shareholders have been active in the EU’s PPP programs like Artemis’ Arrowhead, ProcessIT and MANTIS, to name but a few. All these activities have created the desired results for the industry with great impact.
The FIMECC contribution was also noted recently by the EC in its Digitalising European Industry strategy: http://ec.europa.eu/newsroom/dae/document.cfm?action=display&doc_id=15202
Could you give some examples how those results are specifically used in products or services?
Let’s take the example from the process industry in which digitalisation and CPS are key enablers for the circular economy. There the conditions are also very harsh and the solutions need to be robust. Did you know, by the way, that in the EU 300 kg steel is consumed annually on a per capita basis. Which means that each of us consumes 1 kg every day?
In 2013 our ELEMET programme created a novel solution for a steel plant, which enabled a new way to measure and estimate how much primary raw material and other raw material the iron making process actually needs and how much secondary materials can be used. So, highly sophisticated algorithms using embedded intelligence.
As a result, the material efficiency of iron making was improved dramatically, due to the high recycling rate of residues, like iron bearings, carbon bearings, etc. Therefore, the use of virgin raw material and fossil fuel could be decreased significantly – annually the solution saves 185,000 tonnes of primary iron ore pellets, 40,000 tonnes of primary limestone and 42,000 tonnes of primary coke. To illustrate what this means, annually there are over 30 raw material ships less sailing in Baltic sea and over 300 trucks less driving on Finland’s roads due to the amount of raw materials that can be saved using these novel solutions. This saving has a significant and direct impact on the bottom line and, in addition, you get all the sustainability and environment benefits.
You are a member of ARTEMIS-IA. What do you expect to get out of such membership and would this change over time?
In April 2016 ARTEMIS-IA released its renewed Strategic Research Agenda that is focused on digitisation. Your SRA has a focus on Value Creation, Novel Solutions and Smart Production to create results and capabilities for Finnish industry by 2025. This is also very much aligned with the digital future we are heading towards.
This is not a surprise, as FIMECC’s SRA is based on our shareholders’ demand, in which digitisation has a high priority across Europe. FIMECC has actively worked with other European networks and PPP organisations like Artemis-IA, who share our targets.
Although FIMECC is an SME as a company, we represent quite a significant cluster of international companies and research institutes. Artemis-IA membership enables us to impact the relevant roadmaps which then opens possibilities to our cluster to join high-class European co-creation programmes.
In what way can FIMECC and ARTEMIS-IA intensify their cooperation to contribute effectively in digitising Europe?
There are many possibilities, but maybe the most natural way is the SRA processes, in which we can share information and bring the inputs from our more than 200 network partners. This would then be a natural way to engage these companies into the Artemis-IA/Ecsel-JU co-creation programmes.
The current situation is a good starting point, as our SRAs are well aligned already.