The Zero Defects 4.0 project - which results from a consortium of six entities, including companies, universities and research institutes - is nominated for the EIT (European Institute of Innovation & Technology) 2020 Awards, in the Innovators category. The winners will be announced on December 9th.

The Zero Defects 4.0 project - which will allow, through advanced predictive analysis systems, to anticipate defects in wood-based panels, reducing the waste of raw materials and the energy consumption associated with processes -, is nominated for the EIT Awards (European Institute of Innovation & Technology) 2020, in the Innovators category, which recognizes the development of products and services with a significant impact for a sustainable future.

This nomination, which places it among the best European innovation projects, contributed to the fact that it is a cutting edge project in industry 4.0, applied to a sector typically perceived as traditional, and the fact that the project’s results are directly applied to real industrial environment.

Ana Machado Silva, Senior Project Manager at Sonae and project coordinator, explains: “The Zero Defects 4.0 collaborative project created a decision support system that has been implemented in the production site of Sonae Arauco’s wood-based panels. With this development, which incorporates cutting-edge artificial intelligence, it will be possible to select the best combination of process parameters, which is expected to culminate in a reduction of defects, up to a level of zero defects.”

And she adds: “This nomination for the EIT award, in the Innovators category, is a recognition of the potential of this project in a European context of industrial innovation.”
By using data from the industrial process itself, Zero Defects 4.0 will not only reduce the incidence of non-compliance, increasing the quality of the panels produced, but also achieve the highest possible efficiency, namely of resources, by reducing waste.

This disruptive innovation in the industrial context is the result of the collaborative work of a consortium that combines the production experience and the industrial vision of Sonae Arauco with the research and data analysis capabilities applied to industry at INESC TEC - Instituto de Engenharia Systems and Computers, Technology and Science, Faculty of Engineering, University of Porto (FEUP) and Laboratory for Manufacturing Systems and Automation (LMS, University of Patras, Greece); with Innowave’s IT experience, a technology-based SME; and with Sonae’s project management know-how.

Impact on business and the environment
The project now named will have a direct impact on reducing the waste of raw materials and the energy consumption associated with the processes. Currently, the non-conformities of wood-based panels, solutions for application in kitchens, furniture, floors and interior decoration, lead to the waste of raw materials for the production of sub-optimal panels and constraints in the supply to increasingly demanding industrial customers.

The consortium estimates that Zero Defects 4.0 allows, in an initial phase of the project’s start-up, a 10% reduction in quality non-conformities with gradual increase, by automatic learning of the implemented models, until the final view of zero defects. In addition, the project will result in productivity gains, leveraged by greater availability of the production line, resulting from the improvements generated by the data in the decision processes.

The project started in January 2020 and will end later this year. As the validation is successful, now being implemented in the Sonae Arauco industrial unit in Oliveira do Hospital, the commercialization and implementation are scheduled for 2021.

Zero Defects 4.0, which involves an investment of more than € 500 thousand, is co-funded by the EIT, an entity created by the European Union that aims to promote technology and innovation initiatives in the European space.

Candidates will present and defend their projects on December 8th and the winners will be announced on the 9th of the same month.

About EIT

What is the European Institute of Innovation & Technology (EIT)? EIT strengthens Europe’s ability to innovate, investing on the development of solutions to pressing global challenges and endorsing business talent to deliver sustainable growth and create qualified jobs in Europe. EIT is an European Union body and an integral part of Horizon 2020, the EU’s Framework Programme for Research and Innovation. The Institute supports the development of pan-European partnerships (called EIT Knowledge and Innovation Communities), gathering universities, research labs and renown companies.

EIT Manufacturing is one of eight knowledge and innovation communities within EIT, the others being EIT Climate-KIC, EIT Digital, EIT Food, EIT Health, EIT InnoEnergy, EIT Raw Materials, and EIT Urban Mobility. EIT Manufacturing’s mission is to bring European manufacturing actors together in innovation ecosystems that add unique value to European products, processes and services and inspire the creation of globally competitive and sustainable manufacturing.