The first "Learning Factory" of the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering - Skopje was opened

"Learning Factory" (photo: Faculty of Mechanical Engineering)

Within the framework of the activities of the project "Learn4SMEs - Learning Factory for Improving Digital Competitiveness and Industry 4.0 Readiness of SMEs in the Balkans" made possible by the European Institute for Innovation and Technology (EIT Manufacturing) and co-financed by the European Commission, a workshop was held at the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering in Skopje on the topic "Readiness of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) for Industry 4.0 and smart specialization".

As the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering in Skopje informs, the host and organizer of the workshop was the partner in the project - the Center for Research, Development and Continuing Education (CIRKO), and the persons responsible for the organization of the event were professors Bojan Jovanoski and Robert Minovski and Aleksandar Argilovski, M.Sc. .

The main goal of this project is the establishment of the first "Learning Factory" in the country, following the example of a large number of European countries that have been practicing this concept of education, training and research for several years. The learning factory of the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering in Skopje focuses on Industry 4.0 technologies and the Lean production philosophy, according to the announcement.

Currently the lab consists of a manual and smart Poka Yoke error-free assembly station, but soon all the planned production modules of the learning factory are expected to arrive and be completed. The complete system consists of a smart Poka Yoke station for error-free assembly, a workstation, a conveyor, a 2D machine vision camera, a robot and a warehouse.

The purpose of this setup is to simulate a real production line, while through a series of experiments with the equipment, to solve problems in the field of industrial engineering and management, namely Lean management, production planning and management, performance measurement systems, modeling and simulation of business processes, quality management systems, etc.

In addition to the informative session on the goals of the project and the idea of ​​the "Learning Factory", a series of trainings on the subject of "Lean Manufacturing 4.0" were held on the platform, which is a function of European Commission projects. A practical example was also shown using the didactic equipment acquired during the project – a smart Poka Yoke station to avoid errors during product assembly. Some of the participants had the chance to perform the assembly of the manual and the smart assembly station, while through the measurements made, the improvements and benefits offered by Lean and Industry 4.0 concepts in production were shown.

The Faculty of Mechanical Engineering - Skopje states that the idea is for this "Learning Factory" to grow in the future and become a recognizable center for digitization and Lean in the country. They inform that all interested companies who want to direct the development of their businesses and employees in the direction of digital transformation through Industry 4.0 technologies and production optimization supported by Lean are welcome.

In addition to this project, the goals and benefits of the scientific research project DigiTS-ME were presented, which is also part of the cooperation between the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering in Skopje (UKIM) and the Technical University - Vienna, and financed by the Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of North Macedonia. Macedonia and OAED. This project focuses on analyzing and evaluating methodologies for examining the readiness of Macedonian companies for digital transformation. More than 30 organizations from the country are involved, and the project lasts until the end of 2023.

During the two days, as stated, more than 60 employees from over 30 different companies attended.

In addition to Circo, the project consortium consists of three organizations – the Technical University of Vienna, Austria and Festo Lernzentrum from Germany. Six local companies (Rade Koncar TEP, Smelt-ing, Fitopharm Plus, Crater, Wabtec MZT and Nipromtex) as well as two universities from neighboring countries are included in the project as industry partners, namely the Faculty of Technical Sciences in Novi Sad, Serbia and the Technical University of Sofia, Bulgaria.

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