There will be three main innovations delivered to the European tool industry and its customers. The overall goal is to enable European tool makers to differentiate from their competitors by offering tools that are more resource efficient.
Innovation 1: “Description of complex interdependencies in different stages of the tools’ life cycle”
The first result of the project will be knowledge about independencies between factors in tool design and the resource consumption during the production and application process. Second, the influence factors that derive from the adjustment of a tool to the manufacturing process will be detected. Third, the processes of reusing and recycling tools will be surveyed concerning resource consumption influencing parameters. All influence factors of the tool will be assessed regarding their overall contribution to resource efficiency along their life cycle. The approach will focus on creating the capabilities to produce tools with superior behaviour along the process chain with strong focus on resource efficiency. Approaches regarding new manufacturing technologies and enhancements of material surfaces will be included. All collected data and interdependencies will be structured in a knowledge base to ensure access to it. The knowledge of these influences will enable tool makers to deliver additional value to their customers.
Innovation 2: “Calculation tool for the prognosis of resource efficiency”
An important enabler for the control of resource efficiency are the tool makers’ and tool users’ availability of life cycle data, clarifying in which types of resources can be saved more precisely. By designing a calculation tool the tool maker will be able to prognosticate the tools’ resource consumption throughout its life cycle.
This will enable him to individually adjust and customise a resource efficient production process for the customer (value added service). Thus, the resource consumption can be optimised, wherefore intelligent algorithms and methods to interpret the gained data will be developed within this project. At the same time the tool maker is able to integrate the knowledge gained into new product development processes.
The calculation tool will include life-cycle data regarding resource consumption of several representative reference tools as such data is not easily available for companies. On the one hand the Werkzeugbauakademie (= tool building academy) GmbH in Aachen will create two tools that will be assessed in detail during the project. On the other hand the IFT in Wien will analyse 6 chosen tools (3 forming tools, 3 injection moulding tools) to represent the most relevant tool types.
In addition the tool will give answers in which way parameter variation (e.g.: tool material, surface treatment, manufacturing technology, maintenance strategy) will affect different types of resource consumption during life cycle stages (e.g. air, power, heat, cold, raw materials, commodities, maintenance expenditures…).
Therefore no mathematical model will be used but resulting logical interconnections between the parameters to give relative [%] effects. Combining relative effects and resource consumption of reference tools the tool will be able to assume absolute saving amounts [Euro] based on actual costs of energy, materials.
Of course the efficiency of the tool to appreciate resource consumption, i.e. its accuracy, strongly depends on the raised data within the first work packages. But IFT and WZL have high experience and expertise in data collection approaches, especially with tool industry, using innovative technological solutions and
Innovation 3: “Business model for tool companies concerning resource efficiency”
The tool maker will be capable of configuring customised market offers he had not been able to develop before and optimising the resource efficiency in the customers’ production process. Going beyond the state-of-the-art in business modelling, this extension of existing business models provides a chance for European tool makers to sustainably improve their competitive position in the highly dynamic environment by allowing differentiation from other companies (i.e. low-cost producers in Asia), that will go along with a price premium.
A lack of approaches to successful business models among tool makers is clearly visible; tool makers often don’t consider appropriate business plans or business models as being key issues within their management activities: Tool makers have mainly been reactive to inquiries and build their products on order. There is a need for successful business models which bundle the processes of product development and service provision. In addition to the mentioned major benefits and innovations the calculation tool and the TEC project in general will be a support to establish a dialogue between tool makers and tool users. Trade-offs can be discussed on basis of the empirical data and the visualisation with the calculation tool.
The research approach in general will put forward hidden problems and detect
below average practices.