In September, we had the opportunity to make some questions to CROBOHUB DIH. Based in Zagreb and active since 2017, this DIH is one of the 6 active in Croatia, as per the Catalogue of DIH in S3 Platform, and has the ambitious vision of becoming “the leading digital innovation hub in robotics in South-East Europe“.
They have and are taking part in some EU-funded projects, such as a ACROSS (Centre of Excellence for Autonomous and Cooperative Robotic Systems, 2017-2018), L4MS (Logistics for Manufacturing SMEs, 2017-2021), ENDORSE (Effective Robotic Grinding of Surface Areas through HORSE framework, 2018-2019) and DIH2 (A Network of Robotics DIHs for Agile Production, 2019-2023), and are part of the EC Preparatory Action for an AI DIH NETWORK (March 2019 – December 2019).
Would you like to know some more about them? Read below answers kindly provided to us by their representative, Ms. Davorka Moslavac Forjan.
Tell us a bit about CROBOHUB DIH…
DMF: Croatian Robotics Digital Innovation Hub (CROBOHUB DIH), hosted within Innovation Centre Nikola Tesla (ICENT), is the key Croatian non-profit facility to support companies to become more competitive by improving their business/production processes as well as products and services by up-taking digital technologies and robotic solutions.
Since year 2017, CROBOHUB has been acting as one-stop-shop helping companies to digitalise their business through efficient orchestrating of stakeholders in robotic innovation ecosystem such as research institutions, business support institutions, system integrators, robot manufacturers and end-user companies, which all contribute to the development and application of advanced robotic systems in manufacturing. CROBOHUB also facilitates access to financing for digital transformations, state-of-the-art research environment and wide network of experts.
Can you provide some figures on the companies supported by your DIH?
DMF: Primary CROBOHUB network counts more than 30 partners: universities, start-ups, SMEs, large enterprises, incubators and accelerators, development agencies, chambers and user communities. It further impacts more than 100 SMEs/companies in the wider network by offering various services. So far, CROBOHUB helped more than 15 companies to solve their problems by developing specific tailor-made digital solutions.
What specific services do CROBOHUB DIH offer?
DMF: CROBOHUB is DIH focused on robotics and AI. It brings value all along the research and innovation value chain. Starting with research and innovation projects, CROBOHUB helps in finding researchers with expertise and infrastructure to manage and solve the specific problems in industry and project teams in implementing successfully their projects.
CROBOHUB also supports the implementation of proof-of-concept pilot studies to both build prototypes to demonstrate technologies in relevant use conditions and validate market adoption evidence by providing access to integrated laboratories, prototyping and testing facilities.
It also provides access to technical consulting service to Croatian industrial companies willing to adopt or upgrade manufacturing robotic or automation technologies. The service is provided before implementation to assess the needs, identify the solutions, price them and plan for implementation, and then the service is provided during set up of the solution, especially in training the personnel. Networking actions are also implemented to increase skill matching, joint creativity, training and mentoring, and promotion of initiatives.
Did you receive any EU funds and, if so, how did you employ them?
DMF: ICENT/CROBOHUB is participating in two I4MS Innovation actions:
- HORSE Open Calls beneficiary:
Open Call for DIHs: Feasibility Study for Croatian Robotics Digital Innovation Hub – CROBOHUB
Open Call for Industrial Experiment: Effective Robotic Grinding of Surface Areas through HORSE framework – ENDORSE.
- L4MS project partner.
ICENT/CROBOHUB also received funding from H2020 Teaming Phase 1 project ACROSS and ongoing DIH2 project. CROBOHUB is a beneficiary in AI DIH NETWORK Preparatory Action, mentoring project with the aim to create a European Network of Digital Innovation Hubs (DIHs) with focus on Artificial Intelligence.
Through participation in all these projects CROBOHUB has become a part of extensive European network of DIHs and CCs. It is also part of the EC S3 Catalogue of Digital Innovation Hubs. Financing for expert staff, networking and mentoring through the projects helped CROBOHUB to develop its human and knowledge capacities, raise visibility and become Digital Innovation Hub recognised not only in Croatia but also in EU.
Can you please provide a practical example of a case you supported?
DMF: Croatian SME Muraplast is the leading producer of extruded polyethylene tubular blow film (LDPE) in the south-eastern European region. Muraplast also produces industrial bags, pallet covers, sacks and a wide selection of plastic carrier bags.
The need of Muraplast is the optimisation of the process of taking the rolls of polyethylene film from the production lines, weighting them, and transporting them ready to the warehouse area while sending the information to the local Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software. This optimization would boost production productivity, reduce human error factor in weighting and reduce the manual labour needed to manipulate the products.
A solution to this problem was provided by ICENT within the scope of the ongoing I4MS Innovation Action L4MS – Logistics for manufacturing SMEs, where Muraplast is one of three Pilot Application Experiments for optimizing factory logistics:
- a digital twin of the factory was setup using Visual Components software,
- scaled model of a small production area was setup at ICENT premises. Demonstration video is available here.
The Experiment gave insight to the Muraplast management of the needed automation steps to solve the problems in the factory setup as it is today, and furthermore, open the discussion of needed changes so that the tested solution can be developed and applied for the newly built production hall in Muraplast. As an indirect result of the Experiment, Muraplast already invested into purchasing industrial manipulators for heavy lifting of PE rolls. Furthermore, Muraplast plans to implement the automatic measuring of the PE roll weights as part of the machines and connecting machine data to ERP (SCADA solution).