Smart robotics for high added value footwear industry

Currently, robots are underutilised in the footwear sector, unlike in the automotive, food and metal processing industries. Most shoes are still made by hand. Thus far, only technical shoe producers have introduced robots as an aid in the injection moulding process, but the scope for using robots is far wider. Introducing robots into the footwear industry will help overcome current complexities in process automation, which sometimes lead to shorter than necessary production runs. The project will incorporate six operations to test when and where robots should be introduced. They will be used in three prototypes to be scheduled throughout the project so that the industry becomes aware of the potential applications and benefits of robotics from the outset. Although the main aim of this project is to improve productivity by means of the introduction of robotics, further jobs will be created around this, as the introduction of new machinery requires the presence of highly-skilled workers and will also create job opportunities in the area of maintenance and upkeep. The consortium has ten members from three different countries across the European Union who started work on the project together in September 2010. In pursuit of these objectives, the consortium aims to develop: • New strategies and devices for flexible parts which allow shoes to be grasped, packaged and handled in a way that does not damage them. • Sensor-based robot programming and control tools which use information from the CAD system and available sensors for visual serving (a technique to control the movements of the robot based on information extracted from images), which allows flexible robotic applications to be programmed easily. • An overhaul of shoe production processes for robot-assisted manufacturing and assembly in areas such as selective heating, inspection and packaging.
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Start date: 01-09-2010
End date: 28-02-2013
Total budget - Public funding: 3 685 073,00 Euro - 2 559 540,00 Euro
Call topic: Smart Factories: ICT for agile and environmentally friendly manufacturing (FoF.ICT.2010.10.1)