CIT Nimbus Centre to lead €11m project to develop factories of the future

30 Sep 2020

From left: Dr Alan McGibney and Dr Susan Rea of CIT and the Nimbus Centre. Image: Darragh Kane

CIT’s Nimbus Centre will lead an EU project called ‘Denim’ to find new energy efficient manufacturing technologies.

As part of the EU’s Horizon 2020 Factories of the Future programme, Dr Alan McGibney and Dr Susan Rea of the Cork Institute of Technology (CIT) Nimbus Centre will lead a new €11m European research project.

The ‘Denim’ project aims to accelerate the digital transformation of manufacturing processes by greatly reducing their energy consumption. With a significant amount of Europe’s total energy consumption attributed to the industrial sector, the EU is aiming to find how new technologies can help reduce this in line with its aim for the continent to carbon neutral by 2050.

The Denim project’s goal is to collect, analyse and communicate data in real time that can optimise performance and reduce consumption at machine, process and factory levels. This, the team behind it said, can be achieved using the internet of things, data analytics, digital twins, energy modelling and automation.

“In order to save energy, you first need to know how and where it is being consumed,” McGibney said.

“At home you might look at your electricity smart meter or heating bill, however in an industrial setting there are many factors that impact energy consumption and getting a full view of these remains a major challenge.

“Digital technologies will play a significant role by providing the ability to automatically monitor and optimise energy usage, while also informing users on the environmental and economic impact of decisions made at all stages of the manufacturing process.”

18 different partners

Rea added that the project sees education, awareness and upskilling as an “essential component to allow all workers understand their collective responsibility in addressing energy efficiency”.

The project includes a consortium of 18 partner organisations led by CIT across eight countries. It is the first Ireland-led project funded under the Factories of the Future programme.

According to Dr Sergio Ceballos, the national contact point for the EU programme in Enterprise Ireland, Denim scored fifth out of 83 proposals submitted for funding.

“It shows how national investment in manufacturing research leverages success in international projects for the benefit of the Irish and European industry,” he said.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic