This research group works on ways of improving microsystem products and on their industrial applications. Microsystems are often autonomous sensor systems used to measure the surrounding environment. They can help to prevent production outages and project delays, as well as raising production yields.
Microsystems, which are often autonomous sensor systems used to measure the surrounding environment, are currently undergoing rapid development. However, there are still considerable difficulties when it comes to starting up and increasing production. This is because the field focuses on systems with very high levels of precision, and producing these systems is one of the most difficult processes that exists.
The source of the problems often lies in the product development process, during which insufficient account is taken of the challenging nature of the production technologies involved. Rushing through this stage leads to loss of production and low production yields (which in turn results in increased production costs), but most importantly it leads to project delays at a point when all the investment has already been made.
The research carried out by the Microsystems Technology research group can be divided into the following areas:
- By optimizing product design and design procedures, difficult production methods are identified early and can be prevented.
- The modularization of production processes. Existing production processes are combined in a modular way, which increases the potential for reuse in successive product families. This reuse reduces the amount of engineering work required and lowers the costs of industrialization. Quality also improves as start-up problems are reduced.
Examples of research
Under the umbrella name of ‘Submissive Product Design’, ten projects are underway in which participants are obliged to take account of the intended production method during the product development process. Only those solutions for which a production process exists are allowed to be used during product development. The projects involved companies, students and tutors throughout the process and the companies’ real-life current issues were addressed.
The maintenance industry is a labour-intensive sector that has to contend with a structural shortage of personnel. The only solution to this problem is to improve productivity. What is needed is to make improvements in maintenance planning based on automated object status measurements, Condition Based Maintenance (CBM). The maintenance required for particular objects and installations can be determined using CBM sensors. The research group has set itself the goal of building on the role it has already acquired for itself in the area of sensor systems to become a leading national expert in the field of sensor systems for CBM.
Referred to as HUniversal Production, the production philosophy of the future has already been defined. It is modelled on developments around Agile Manufacturing (AM). AM aims to improve flexibility and reaction times when it comes to production requests. In the project, the principles of AM are used to define domain-specific solutions for microtechnology. It involved over six fields of study and more than ten companies.