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Digitalisation in the process industry

SINTEF Tel-Tek has more than ten years of experience in the digitalisation of the industry within the concept of Smart Manufacturing., - as it was previously called. This field is about reducing unwanted variations in production-based industry. The method has elements from industrial economics, process chemistry, process technology, analytical chemistry, instrumentation, multivariate data analysis, simulation, modelling and general R&D methodology to understand the root causes for unwanted variation.

A pre-project completed in 2010 (funded by NHO and Tel-Tek) showed that most process-based industrial companies in Norway had some degree of cost-intensive and undesirable variation in their production processes. Usually it is about product quality, production capacity, yield, wrecks and/or specific energy consumption.

In the years that followed, several good industrial measures and implementations were implemented in Norway. 

Through the merger between Tel-Tek and SINTEF Industri, the digitalisation expertise of the department  has been significantly strengthened and includes, among other things:  sensors, sensor development, management systems, databases, machine learning (ML), artificial intelligence (AI), deep learning (DL), autonomy, combining legal ("1st principle") and data-driven models. Th latter discipline is called hybrid digital twins and is the basis for Cognitive Models or Hybrid Analytics (combining ML, AI, DL with digital twins).

SINTEF Industry has several interesting projects on these topics, such as the BIA IPN project SAM (Self adaptive modeling, frame 74.4 MNOK for the period 2019-20203), Cognitwin (Cognitive hybrid twins, frame of 8 MEURO for the period Sept. 2019 – Sept. Sept 2022). The activities have also resulted in an application for an SFI on Digitalisation of the process industry (DigiPro) starting in the fall of 2020 if it is granted.

The SFI application is based on financial support of 96 million NOK from the RCN (NFR)  and roughly 60 million NOK from the process industry and suppliers. Partners in this SFI are in addition to industry and suppliers, NORCE, UiA and USN. It is planned to include approx. 12 PhD studies.

SINTEF has also recently decided to create an innovation HUB associated within the field process and digitalisation field located at Herøya Industry Park, which is expected to give spin-off to many exciting activities and projects in the digitalisation of the process industry in the years to come.

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