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Virtual Commissioning in the SUPSI Mini-factory

Virtual commissioning plans, improves and optimizes production systems and their performances using simulation and offline programming. Similarly, on a small scale, researchers at SUPSI were able to simulate and optimize the layout of the new Mini-Factory using Augmented Reality.

The Mini-Factory aims to create a platform where researchers, students and industries meet, develop and empower the transfer of knowledge. They have the chance to experience both classical automation topics, as well as advanced technologies, typical of the most advanced smart-factories (IoT, vision systems, simulation and digital twin, Human-Robot collaboration, AI-driven automation, advanced measuring methods).

To fulfil these aims, SUPSI is planning to expand its learning factory, after two years of successfully producing the Chinese play game “tangram”, a new product will be introduced, a personalized reusable coffee cup for SUPSI students and collaborators.

The coffee cup lid will be produced using Injection molding technology. Injection molding has a steep entry cost but can produce a high volume of parts. Additionally, the dimensions of the machine are important. In this regard, many questions from many stakeholders have arisen: what will the new laboratory look like with the new machine? Where is the perfect place for the machine? Will there be enough space for maintenance? Will the Injection molding machine hide the Mini-Factory from view?

Thanks to MirrorLabs previously acquired knowledge and Microsoft HoloLens 2 most of these questions were answered. The supplier of the machine kindly shared the CAD model of the machine. To place the 1:1 model of the machine in the room, a small app was developed with Unity. Through the Microsoft Hololens 2, every stakeholder was able to visualize the machine in his future layout. The Project is now moving to the execution phase.

The use of Hololens and Augmented Reality helped in the project-planning phase to decide the new SUPSI Mini-Factory setup. In addition, SUPSI is working on a nugget (online tutorial) to create an easy Virtual Reality commissioning application. The nugget will enable students to understand the principle of Virtual commissioning and to put into practice the new learned knowledge.



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