- What if your operators could never again make mistakes during the production or assembly processes? How much time and money would that save your business? Undoubtedly enough to merit taking a look at the revolutionary solution proposed by the young engineering company Arkite. The ‘virtual guardian angel’ devised by Arkite in Genk helps operators avoid
What if your operators could never again make mistakes during the production or assembly processes? How much time and money would that save your business? Undoubtedly enough to merit taking a look at the revolutionary solution proposed by the young engineering company Arkite.
The ‘virtual guardian angel’ devised by Arkite in Genk helps operators avoid errors. Their solution is a 3D-sensor that is quick and easy to install at any workstation. Dubbed the Human Interface Mate (HIM), without actually doing the work itself this innovation helps operators do their job correctly, for example by ensuring that the right doors have been delivered for assembly and are free of manufacturing defects.
Avoiding assembly errors
The first pilot tests suggest that the HIM works well. Tower Automotive, a subsidiary of the Tower International group, is one company that has Arkite’s sensors monitoring its production line. It produces metal structures and components for the automotive industry, including car doors in Ghent.
Feedback from the first customers and demo installations show that HIMs can be deployed for any assembly work, selection tasks or to ensure that parts are correctly positioned in welding machines, bending machines or for gluing processes.
6 advantages of a virtual assistant
“If a worker has to assemble a thousand doors a day, it’s easy for human error to creep in”, Arkite’s managers, Ives De Saeger and Johan Smeyers, told Trends. “Forgetting a bolt or selecting a wrong nut for example. Our system highlights these problems during the actual assembly process, avoiding the need for subsequent corrections. The technology is designed to ascertain in real time whether the correct sequence of steps is being followed during assembly and whether the right components are being used.”
Simplicity is crucial here, as is clear from the 6 strong arguments highlighted on Arkite’s website:
- Operators can concentrate on working to deliver higher value added.
- The system is based on a blue box that uses invisible light signals to detect and flag up errors instantaneously.
- The software is intuitive and self-explanatory, enabling companies to program their own virtual assistants.
- The HIM only issues procedural instructions as and when necessary.
- The virtual sensors created eliminate the need to install or wear physical sensors attached to cables.
- Gamification encourages operators to optimise the way they work.
160 Human Interface Mates in 2017
De Saeger and Smeyers are already planning to market their HIMs in 2016 and are aiming to sell 40 units this year and quadruple that figure in 2017.
The unit cost of €17,000 euro per workstation can be recouped in between 6 months and a year.
Arkite currently has 10 employees, 6 of whom are engineers and programmers, and the company is holding talks with investors in a bid to raise capital of €1.5 million.
- Belgian company Stokota is currently supplying the Ministry of Defence with the latest aircraft refuellers built on a Volvo chassis as well as five trailers. The Belgian tanker specialist is ready to claim an important position in this growing international market. Imagine receiving as many competitors as visitors at a trade show! That does not
Belgian company Stokota is currently supplying the Ministry of Defence with the latest aircraft refuellers built on a Volvo chassis as well as five trailers. The Belgian tanker specialist is ready to claim an important position in this growing international market.
Imagine receiving as many competitors as visitors at a trade show! That does not mean there were so few visitors to the Stokota booth at the biennial Inter Airport trade show in Munich – just the opposite. But a surpisingly large number of rivals came to the booth and were amazed at the results achieved from years of quiet work done in the background.
Stokota (based in Lokeren, Belgium) develops and produces tankers, vacuum trucks, aircraft refuellers and trailers, and special vehicles such as moving-floor trailers.
It is now fully engaged in the market for aircraft refuellers and hydrant dispensers.
“In contrast with the stable or shrinking market for heating oil, there are rising numbers of flights. Aircraft are all powered by jet fuel”, says CEO Ronald Lefebvre, explaining the decision to move into this market. “This could boost Stokota’s short-term revenues by 33%.”
Jet fuel for F16 and C130 aircraft
The Ministry of Defence is its first major customer. In 2013, Defence went looking for 25 aircraft refuellers and five trailers for refuelling the C130, Alpha Jet, F16 and other aircraft and helicopters. Stokota won the €5.6 million contract.
Their designs are highly integrated technically, technologically and in terms of safety – and they can be produced at competitive prices.
R&D in Belgium
Research & Devlopment is also critical to the company’s new Aviation Fuelling Vehicles division in Belgium. Production takes place in Poland. This winning combination ensures superb designs that can be produced cost-effectively.
“Technologically, we’ve taken a major step forward”, says designer and business unit manager Rein Van Den Eeckhout. “Nearly everything happens automatically, apart from connecting hoses and earthing airplanes and helicopters. Sensors detect problems and issue a warning if something goes wrong or if, say, a vent has not been properly closed. All possible safety systems are built in to it and the operator needs to do as little as possible. It’s user-friengly, ergonomic and safety.”
Annual growth exceeding 10%
Every year, Stokota builds 400 to 480 tanks, with increasing levels of automation. Accordingly, in 2014 it made investments in a 36-metre-long robot welding faciliity.
For each customer the vehicles’ modular construction means that options/features can be modified as required. This enables Stokota to provide customised solutions that are also standardised and affordable.
Stokota employs 350 people: 45 in Belgium, 25 in France and 280 in Poland. They generated revenues of €35 million in 2015, with growth of more than 10% the last two years. This trend looks set to continue in the years ahead.
- The Leuven (Belgium) based research centre imec is working with German semiconductor manufacturer Infineon Technologies AG on a breakthrough technology. Their CMOS-based 79 GHz radar chip helps brings self-driving cars one step closer to reality. Good vision. That’s what cars need more than ever as they are increasingly required to self-assess traffic situations, and will
The Leuven (Belgium) based research centre imec is working with German semiconductor manufacturer Infineon Technologies AG on a breakthrough technology. Their CMOS-based 79 GHz radar chip helps brings self-driving cars one step closer to reality.
Good vision. That’s what cars need more than ever as they are increasingly required to self-assess traffic situations, and will be taking to the road totally driverless in the future. Who supplies those radar “eyes”?
Raising road safety
The Leuven-based imec is a world-leading research centre in nano- and microelectronics. The cooperation with the German Infineon Technologies has produced a radar sensor chip which works on a very high frequency.
Compared to the mainstream 24 GHz band, the 77 GHz and 79 GHz bands enable a finer range, and therefore a better vision when used in vehicles,” says Wim Van Thillo, program director Perceptive Systems for the Internet of Things at imec.
“With these advantages, we aim to realise radar prototypes with integrated multiple-input, multiple-output (MIMO) antennas that not only detect large objects, but also pedestrians and bikers. Since even fog, snow and darkness cease to be a problem for radar systems based on 79 GHz radio waves, they thus contribute to our road safety.”
New radar system by 2017
Imec and Infineon Technologies are planning to reveal a complete 79 GHz radar system demonstrator for the beginning of 2017. They are expecting functional CMOS sensor chips samples in the third quarter of 2016.
This radar technology will complement already existing systems. In its press release, imec refers to the current situation.
Typically, there are up to three radar systems in today’s vehicles equipped with driver assistance functions. In the future, self-driving cars will use up to ten radar systems and ten more sensor systems using cameras or lidar technologie.
Close collaboration between researchers and manufacturers
Ralf Bornefeld, vice president & general manager Sense & Control at Infineon is responsible for the cooperation with the Leuven specialists.
“In the future, we will manufacture radar sensor chips as a single-chip solution in a classic CMOS process, especially for applications liked automated parking. Together, we will continue to set the industry standards in radar technology and quality.”
For more details on the 79 GHz band range, read the article in imec magazine.
- The two new concept cars unveiled by Volvo Cars will take the Swedish make in a bold new direction and mark the official launch of its global small car strategy. The production plant in Ghent will play an important role in this strategy. The newly-revealed 40 series concepts demonstrate for the first time how Volvo
The two new concept cars unveiled by Volvo Cars will take the Swedish make in a bold new direction and mark the official launch of its global small car strategy. The production plant in Ghent will play an important role in this strategy.
The newly-revealed 40 series concepts demonstrate for the first time how Volvo plans to expand into the large and lucrative global market for premium small cars. The range of vehicles developed by the Swedish car manufacturer combine bold exterior and interior design with industry-leading connectivity, electrification and self-drive technologies.
Here you can watch the first video of the two concept cars 40.1 and 40.2
The new concept cars will be the first built around Volvo’s new Compact Modular Architecture (CMA).
“CMA has helped us to capture something special, something youthful in our new concept cars,” says Thomas Ingenlath, Senior Vice President, Design at Volvo Car Group. “They have an energy, a disruptive and engaging urban character that makes them stand out amongst the crowd. This is the flavour of small Volvos to come.”
XC40 production in Ghent
The first CMA car in Ghent is expected to be a compact-sized crossover called the XC40. Production of this vehicle will kick off in 2018. The 5,300 employees in Ghent already knew for some time that they would be able to build the new 40 series.
Pure battery electric and plug-in hybrid Volvo
Volvo’s new global small car range will include a pure battery electric vehicle as well as Twin Engine plug-in hybrid powertrain variants, in line with the company’s commitment to the electrification of its entire portfolio. Volvo plans to have sold a total of up to 1 million electrified cars by 2025 globally.
“The new 40 series cars have the potential to improve our market penetration in an important growing segment,” said Håkan Samuelsson, president and chief executive, adding: “An electric powertrain programme including both a new compact Twin Engine plug-in hybrid as well as a pure electric car are central to the CMA architecture.”
Production starts in 2017
Volvo’s small car strategy is an essential element in its ongoing global operational and financial transformation. The Swedish company is currently implementing an ambitious revitalisation plan that will reposition the brand to compete with its global premium competitors within the next four years.
The first new 40 series car is expected to go into production in 2017.
Global car sales up by 11.9%
The announcement of Volvo’s new global small car strategy comes on the back of a strong start to the year in terms of sales and profitability.
The company’s revenues for the first three months of the year rose by 24 per cent year-on-year to SEK 41.7 billion (EUR 4.50 billion), generating an operating profit of SEK 3.1 billion (EUR 334 million) and an operating profit margin of 7.5 per cent. Global sales for the first quarter of 2016 increased by 11.9 per cent to 120,591 cars.
- Electric road transport is not the only growing sector; the same can be said about electric waterborne transport. This is demonstrated by the first ferry powered by batteries made in Belgium. Turnhout-based Leclanché supplied the innovative battery bank powering the BB Green ferry. Quiet and environmentally friendly; zero CO2 emissions, and definitely huge fuel savings.
Electric road transport is not the only growing sector; the same can be said about electric waterborne transport. This is demonstrated by the first ferry powered by batteries made in Belgium. Turnhout-based Leclanché supplied the innovative battery bank powering the BB Green ferry.
Quiet and environmentally friendly; zero CO2 emissions, and definitely huge fuel savings. There are great advantages to electric waterborne transport. Especially when the batteries supplying the necessary current are integrated intelligently into the boat.
“We have developed and built a first battery pack into a ferry,” says Maxime Smets, project manager for the development integration of the battery pack in the European BB Green project. “And the second eFerry on which Leclanché collaborated has recently been launched.”
Belgian batteries and innovation
The energy supply for the BB Green is a Belgian project, initially started under Emrol and continued by the team of Leclanché Belgium. The commuter ferry was built as a prototype with European subsidies and has been sailing in Riga since April, and will soon be in Stokholm. She can reach top speeds of up to 55km per hour.
Several new technologies make the BB Green a unique project. “There is a large cavity under the hull topped by a large lift fan, a technology called ASV or Air Supported Vessel,” explains Maxime Smets. “The pressurized air blown into the cavity creates a ‘cushion of air’ between hull and water, which reduces wetted surface areas underneath the hull, and thus resistance. Since the boat is made entirely of carbon sandwich, weight and resistance are significantly lower.”
Plain sailing with 200 kWh battery bank
Leclanché is responsible for one of the top technologies integrated the craft: the rechargeable Lithium Ion Titanate battery (LOT) bank. With this technology, the batteries recharge to 95% capacity in a mere 15 minutes.
“Perfect timing for when passengers are embarking and disembarking,” adds Smets. “This allows the battery to have capacity for only one crossing, which constitutes huge financial and weight savings in relation to batteries. The battery module is also quite compact: the 200 kWh are produced by only 8m3 of batteries. Were fast charging not possible, the whole boat would be full of batteries.”
Since the ferry does not have to be docked for long, she can sail almost continuously. “Similarly, our robots can work 24/7 because they are recharged in only 10 minutes,” compares Smets.
3.78 million litres of diesel saved
Leclanché predicts a bright future for these vessels. Huge savings can be achieved, with regard to diesel consumption for instance. If this ferry were powered by diesel, over a period of service of 15 years, it would consume no less than 3.78 million litres of diesel, based on 12 trips a day, 350 days a year. A comparable conventional diesel-powered ferry consumes a whopping 6.18 million litres of diesel.
In comparison, the electricity used to navigate over a period of 15 years will be 15.9 million kWh.
Keen to develop this future, Leclanché, which has R&D facilities in Belgium, has established a strong partnership with electric ferry propulsion expert Echandia Marine in the context of this project. As well as with SES Europe (http://www.seseu.com), owner of the ASV technology and project leader.
Other Leclanché companies are also involved in the development of the world’s largest electric ferry. This eFerry will soon be launched.
For more information, please read the article Leclanché to provide 4.2 MWh Li-ion battery pack to Green Ferry Project electric ferryboat.
- Electric trambus to be unveiled during Paris “Transports Publics” trade show (14 June 2016). Member company Van Hool, which manufactures buses, coaches and industrial vehicles, will present Exqui.City, its first fully electric trambus, during “Transports Publics 2016”, the international Paris public transport show. The brand new vehicle is 18.61 metres long, can carry 107 passengers
Electric trambus to be unveiled during Paris “Transports Publics” trade show (14 June 2016).
Member company Van Hool, which manufactures buses, coaches and industrial vehicles, will present Exqui.City, its first fully electric trambus, during “Transports Publics 2016”, the international Paris public transport show. The brand new vehicle is 18.61 metres long, can carry 107 passengers and has a range of 120 km.
Since the presentation of the basic concept for this vehicle in Dubai in 2011, 109 trambuses with a length of 18 metres (articulated) up to 24 metres (double-articulated) have already been delivered to eight cities, namely Metz (F), Parma (I), Barcelona (E), Geneva (CH), Malmö (S), Bergen (N), Martinique (F) and Luxembourg. A further 50 trambuses are currently being produced at Van Hool’s plant in Koningshooikt for the cities of Linz (A) and Belfast (UK) and the finishing touches are applied to the 2 trambuses for Hamburg (D). The so-called trambuses combine the flexibility of a bus with the efficiency of a tram because they fully or mainly travel on their own track. The new trambuses have a timeless futuristic design and a high level of comfort with air conditioning, a low sound level and soft interior lighting.
Jan Van Hool, Director of Design & Development at Van Hool nv, is particularly enthusiastic about the technological advances and commercial results of this concept. “The multi-propulsion platform that Van Hool has developed is now really coming into its own. The different types of drive offer the public transport companies concerned ample opportunity to make economically and ecologically sound choices for modern, contemporary public transport. The fact that various cities from various European countries are opting for this solution gives us the confidence that even more applications will follow. ‘High-Tech from Belgium’ is another strong argument for both the concept and the Koningshooikt site. At Transport Publics 2016 in Paris we will undoubtedly make even more commercial contacts.”
- How many electric cars are sold every year in Belgium? More or less compared to the year before? Is Tesla the most popular PEV car in Belgium? How do we compare with Germany and France? From now on you can find all relevant information about the electric vehicles market in Europe on a single portal.
How many electric cars are sold every year in Belgium? More or less compared to the year before? Is Tesla the most popular PEV car in Belgium? How do we compare with Germany and France?
From now on you can find all relevant information about the electric vehicles market in Europe on a single portal. The European Association for Electromobility has launched the EAFO portal www.eafo.eu.
Tesla and Porsche popular in Belgium
An example? The 5 most popular electric and hybrid cars in Belgium are:
1. Tesla Model S (18,2%)
2. Porsche Cayenne PHEV (18,1%)
3. Volvo XC90 PHEV (10,7%)
4. BMW i3 Rex (6,1%)
5. Volkswagen Golf GTE (5,6%)
Focus on electricity, hydrogen and natural gas
The EAFO project will be the new reference for information on development and deployment of alternative fuels’ vehicles, infrastructure and incentives as well as related relevant topics in the different EU countries.
The short-term focus is on battery electric, hybrid and fuel cell vehicles. Natural gas and other alternative fuels will also be covered in a second stage.
The Observatory will help support the market development of alternative fuels in the EU and be a key tool for the implementation of Directive 2014/94/EU on the deployment of recharging and refuelling stations.
VUB scientific partner
The other consortium Partners are AVERE, the European Association for Electromobility as project coordinator and data collection, POLIS – a leading association of cities and Tobania as IT provider.
The EAFO project team invites all stakeholders to contribute.
For general information please contact us at email@example.com.
- “Truck platooning is applicable, affordable and available.” Such was the conclusion after the major European test. “We created gold. Now let’s make it a business case,” enthused the organisers of the European Truck Platooning Challenge looking ahead to the future. “It’s a great feeling for all of us to look back at the Challenge,” said
“Truck platooning is applicable, affordable and available.” Such was the conclusion after the major European test. “We created gold. Now let’s make it a business case,” enthused the organisers of the European Truck Platooning Challenge looking ahead to the future.
“It’s a great feeling for all of us to look back at the Challenge,” said André van Lammeren (Director Mobility and Infrastructure, Rijkswaterstaat) who coordinates the European Truck Platooning Challenge. “I’m talking about the massive interest in this project shown by governments, industry, road authorities and operators, knowledge institutes and suppliers of logistics services – plus the commitment they showed, as a community, and the way they collected knowledge and experience. But today is about looking forward.”
Truck Platooning with DAF and Volvo
Convoys of self-driving trucks were tested on Belgian roads on 6 April. Volvo Trucks and DAF are among the participants in the European Truck Platooning project, which can be viewed on YouTube.
Each make was driving separately, with two or three trucks following each other in a convoy. In platooning the driver of the first truck determines the speed and movements of the trucks that follow. Wi-Fi, GPS and radar communication systems linking the trucks tell them exactly which movements to make, when they have to brake, and the road condition ahead of them.
Westerlo-based DAF Trucks rated the test as positive. “Obviously, a lot more continued development is necessary before truck platooning can be introduced on the road as a new technology,” said Ron Borsboom, member of the Board of Management of DAF Trucks and responsible for product development. “Much remains to be settled in terms of legislation, liability and acceptance.”
European Commission invested 240 million
The European Commission is playing an important role in the project. Over the past ten years the European Commission has co-financed 35 projects in the field of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems, Connectivity and Automated Driving. This represents a total of around € 240 million.
According to Liam Breslin (European Commission), these projects made a substantial contribution to the advance of technology in the area of automated and connected driving. “Truck platooning will be realised sooner than we think,” said an optimistic Breslin.
- Offering protection against bomb blasts, sunlight and theft, and providing personalisation, 3M does it all with film. The first films were invented in 1966, and this year 3M, with a major European branch in Diegem, is celebrating 50 years of innovative window film products. “The goal was to protect valuables and people without changing the
Offering protection against bomb blasts, sunlight and theft, and providing personalisation, 3M does it all with film. The first films were invented in 1966, and this year 3M, with a major European branch in Diegem, is celebrating 50 years of innovative window film products.
“The goal was to protect valuables and people without changing the appearance of windows”, explains Tim Thornton, Global Business Director of 3M Renewable Energy Division in the 3M press release. “With good results. Since its creation 50 years ago, 3M Window Film has revolutionised the way we utilise a design feature that can be applied on every home, every building and every automobile.”
These films are used worldwide on windows of highly varied locations, such as homes, offices, hospitals, museums, and more.
Film also improves car comfort
The importance of film in the car industry should not be underestimated. For instance, 3M™ Automotive Window Film helps improve comfort and protect car interiors and occupants without ever being noticed.
Various films provide:
• Unbreakable car windows and protection in case of impact.
• Colour fastness of the car’s interior by blocking the sun’s UV rays.
• Better view of the road by blocking glare.
• Improved fuel economy by rejecting heat coming through the windows.
• Limited view of car valuables and occupants with darkened windows.
• No bodywork scratches.
• Licence plate reflection.
More colour in your fleet
Films to personalise company and private cars is currently on the rise. “Wrap Films let you personalise your car to produce more colourful cars for fleets and private individuals”, explains Patrick Rogiers, Managing Director of 3M Benelux in Diegem, in a previous interview with BeAutomotive: How 3M makes your car quieter, lighter and more personal.
In celebration of 3M Window Film’s golden anniversary, 3M has planned a communications campaign throughout 2016 under the slogan “So remarkable you may not have noticed…”.
Upcoming events can be viewed on 3M.com/Remarkable .
- Experts are predicting that sales of compact and small SUVs will explode in the coming years. For the compact Volvo XC40 which will be built in Ghent from 2018, this is already good news. “I expect that in Europe alone sales of compact SUVs will grow by more than 40% over the next seven years.
Experts are predicting that sales of compact and small SUVs will explode in the coming years. For the compact Volvo XC40 which will be built in Ghent from 2018, this is already good news.
“I expect that in Europe alone sales of compact SUVs will grow by more than 40% over the next seven years. By 2022, 5.23 million units will be sold annually,” Tim Urquhart, an analyst at the specialist consulting firm IHS Automotive told Knack news service.
Expressed in market shares: in 2015, nearly 1 in 5 new cars sold in Europe was a compact SUV. Urquhart is predicting this share to grow to 28% by 2022.
55% rise in market share
The Belgian registration figures from Febiac confirm this trend. In January and February 2016 almost 8,000 small SUVs were sold. The Peugeot 2008, Opel Mokka and Renault Captur, in that same order, are the three best-selling compact SUVs in Belgium.
The market share of this range climbed to 8.37%, compared to 6.74% in the whole of 2015, and 5.42% in 2014. In other words, an increase of 55% in 2 years’ time.
For Christophe Dubon, PR & Communication Manager at Febiac, there are 4 reasons for the rising figures:
- More and more models are launched on the market
- These models are popular among over-50s because of the feeling of safety, the higher seating and door sill.
- The average age of Belgians is rising
- These models are not (too) expensive and are available with small engines.
Belgian plants embrace the SUV trend
The overall trend for SUVs is indeed positive. This is also felt and followed by the Belgian car manufacturing plants.
In 2018, Volvo in Ghent will start production of the compact Volvo XC40. This year Audi in Vorst has been preparing for the production of the first electric SUV of the brand with the four rings: the Audi e-tron SUV.
- Convoys of self-driving trucks will be tested on Belgian roads on 6 April. Volvo Trucks and DAF are among the participants in the European Truck Platooning project. This first major European test on Belgian roads involving self-driving HGVs is bound to attract great interest. Four truck makes will be leaving from or passing through our
Convoys of self-driving trucks will be tested on Belgian roads on 6 April. Volvo Trucks and DAF are among the participants in the European Truck Platooning project.
This first major European test on Belgian roads involving self-driving HGVs is bound to attract great interest. Four truck makes will be leaving from or passing through our country: Scania, DAF, Iveco and Volvo.
DAF will depart from the DAF plant in Westerlo. The Volvo and Iveco trucks will leave from Brussels on 6 April. The test drive itinerary includes the Brussels and Antwerp rings towards the port of Rotterdam
Wi-Fi, GPS and radar replace the driver
Each make will drive separately, with two or three trucks following each other in a convoy. The driver of the first truck will determine the speed and movements of the trucks that follow. Even though there will be drivers in the self-driving trucks, they won’t actually have to drive anything.
Wi-Fi, GPS and radar communication systems linking the trucks will tell them exactly which movements to make, when they have to brake, and the road condition ahead of them. This linking of several trucks is called truck platooning.
Mercedes and Volvo self-driving trucks
Technically speaking, self-driving trucks are already here a while, the Mercedes self-driving truck shown in the VTM news, for example. On a previous occasion, Volvo also communicated about the self-driving Volvo trucks and how they follow each other on deserted roads.
The road test in Belgium is meant to demonstrate a different level of difficulty. Our road network is very dense, with many ramps and slip roads in short succession and heavy traffic.
According to the manufacturers, this should not be a problem. If a car comes between the trucks, platooning stops and the adaptive cruise control increases the space separating it from the unexpected vehicle in front.
10 to 15% less CO2
The self-driving trucks also have an immediate postive impact on the environment. Krista Walsh, Director EU Communication & Sustainability Affairs at Volvo Group told VTM that “automatic driving leads to 10% reduction in CO2 emissions. In the future, we hope to improve this figure even further, to 15% less CO2.”
Road safety is also a winner. According to the manufacturers, self-driving trucks are safer than those involving human drivers. That’s because the biggest risk factors for an accident are excluded, i.e. reaction time and concentration. 90% of road accidents are caused by human error, of which 30% due to distraction.
“Systems on board a truck see 20% more than the human eye can see,” says Helen Van Nuffelen, Corporate Communication Manager at Mercedes-Benz Belux.
Follow the Challenge of the European Truck Platooning through www.eutruckplatooning.com.
Would you like to be more actively involved? Are you keen to share your views? You can do that by answering the project’s online survey.
- The Belgian start-up The Opportunity Factory (TOF) has begun production of cargo bikes in collaboration with SML, a former Ford Genk supplier. TOF is offering a more environmentally friendly way to transport small loads in cities. The first two products of the start-up set up in February 2014 are designed to help transport goods by
The Belgian start-up The Opportunity Factory (TOF) has begun production of cargo bikes in collaboration with SML, a former Ford Genk supplier. TOF is offering a more environmentally friendly way to transport small loads in cities.
The first two products of the start-up set up in February 2014 are designed to help transport goods by bicycle.
Every bicycle becomes an e-bike
The Urban Nomad can be coupled behind any kind of bicycle. It doesn’t just allow you to carry larger purchases back from the shops; “it turns every bike into an electric bike,” says Dirk Verhaeghe, one of TOF’s founders. “The motor, battery and electronics take over the hard work.” Now available through about 25 bicycle shops.
XL electric trailer
Their second, and much larger electric cargo bike – the Tortuga XL – can carry as much as 250 kg or 2m3. “This is consistent with the solution sought by Bubble Post bicycle couriers,” says Verhaeghe. “We were able to leverage the experience of bicycle couriers to optimize the design.”
The video of the first test ride of the Tortuga XL shows that the product is almost ready for production.
Production at SML next to Ford Genk
The production was developed in collaboration with Limburg-based SML to kick off in March. “Where else could this cargo bike be produced more efficiently than on a site brimming with technical and professional expertise?” adds Verhaeghe. “We were introduced to SML through Flanders Bike Valley and the City of Genk. This former Ford Genk supplier was trying to differentiate itself after the closure. Our plans matched. Our first production line there is starting up early March.”
Sustainable mobility solutions
TOF today consists of the five founding partners – Dirk Verhaeghe, Jurgen Denul, Lieven Totté, Dieter Dekeyzer and Luc Meirlaen – and 10 shareholders/members. According to the needs of the company, they step in based on their specialty, e.g. design, product design, material science, organisational structures, and so on.
“We want to make cool, innovative products that enable people to solve their everyday problems in a sustainable way,” Verhaeghe sums up. “We focus primarily on energy and mobility. This is where we will find many challenges and opportunities. For example, Madrid plans to ban all cars from the city by 2025. Bruges is car-free over the weekends. Bigger pedestrian areas in other cities, and the list goes on. Plenty of opportunities.”
- Agoria and Sirris are getting over 200 companies Industry 4.0-ready Biobakkerij De Trog from Ypres, E.D.&A. from Kalmthout, JTEKT Torsen Europe from Strépy, Ontex from Eeklo, Punch Powertrain from Sint-Truiden, TE Connectivity from Oostkamp and Van Hoecke NV from Sint-Niklaas are the new Factories of the Future, succeeding Continental, Dentsply Implants, Newtec and Provan as
Agoria and Sirris are getting over 200 companies Industry 4.0-ready
Biobakkerij De Trog from Ypres, E.D.&A. from Kalmthout, JTEKT Torsen Europe from Strépy, Ontex from Eeklo, Punch Powertrain from Sint-Truiden, TE Connectivity from Oostkamp and Van Hoecke NV from Sint-Niklaas are the new Factories of the Future, succeeding Continental, Dentsply Implants, Newtec and Provan as the winners of the Factory of the Future awards. “These companies have invested so heavily in equipment modernisation, digitalisation and their workforce in recent years that they are now world leaders on the international manufacturing scene,” explains Herman Derache, Managing Director of Sirris. Technology federation Agoria and Sirris, the collective centre for the technology industry, are currently supporting over 200 other companies in their quest to become Factories of the Future. “We want to get our companies ready for the fourth industrial revolution,” says Wilson De Pril, Director-General of Agoria Flanders. “Agoria and Sirris don’t want to focus solely on the theory around concepts like Industry 4.0 – we want to get out into the field and help companies prepare for the future. Flanders has everything it needs to make smart manufacturing a driver of its economy.”
What is a Factory of the Future?
Companies cannot become Factories of the Future overnight! Agoria and Sirris have developed an ambitious transformation plan, in the form of a multi-year cross-sectoral programme, to help them on their way. Dozens of experts are on hand to assist them with improving their product development and production activities through awareness-raising actions, evaluations and individual and collective support.
“The goal is to become a Factory of the Future by implementing seven key changes,” says Herman Derache. “Factories of the Future are extremely energy efficient and use resources sparingly, recycling them wherever possible. They have high-tech production equipment, aim to produce high-added-value products and provide rapid, flexible responses to customer demands. Factories of the Future are often members of networks that enable them work closely with other companies or knowledge centres.”
Employees at the heart of the approach
“Other Western countries like the USA, Germany, France and the Netherlands have turned their attention back to the manufacturing industry,” says Wilson De Pril, “but our programme stands out from the crowd because of the emphasis we place on employees’ role in the Factory if the Future.” There is a growing trend toward transferring responsibilities to self-steering teams of flexible, committed employees, with management taking on more of a supporting role. “However, the transition to the Manufacturing Industry 4.0 will also require a lot of specific technological expertise in fields such as connected machines and components, data innovation and the Internet of Things… basically, ‘4.0 knowledge’ will be crucial.” Through their intensive, company-oriented scheme, Agoria and Sirris are helping businesses to transform themselves as organisations and enabling them to not only develop the right skills and know-how among their employees, but also to secure it in the long term.
Seven companies were presented with Factory of the Future awards in Antwerp today. All of them invested in becoming Factories of the Future and went through a comprehensive assessment process. Now, more than 210 companies in an array of sectors (e.g. technology, food, textiles, paper, pharma, transport, chemicals, leather, medical, construction) have undergone transformations thanks to Agoria and Sirris’s support programme. They range in size from large companies to SMEs and come from all of Flanders’s provinces, with a dozen or so hailing from Wallonia and Brussels too. Agoria and Sirris have pledged that some 50 companies will have achieved the Factories of the Future label by 2018 – by that point, they hope that 500 companies will be on the road to transformation.
Companies tend to transition more smoothly and quickly when there is close cooperation with specialist knowledge centres. With that in mind, Agoria wants Flanders Make, the strategic research centre for the manufacturing centre, to grow into a trailblazing research platform with the necessary government funding to assist companies with research and development activities centring on flexible production and connected machines. Moreover, Sirris and Flanders Make and the other top-flight research centres in the field, namely iMinds (software) and Imec (nano-electronics and sensors), enter into structural cooperation on digitalising the manufacturing industry. According to Wilson De Pril, “Flanders could be a European leader in the field, so it needs to make digitalising the manufacturing industry a policy priority”.
Our new Factories of the Future
This year, seven manufacturing companies saw their efforts to become Factories of the Future pay off. The award ceremony was attended by over 300 people, including prominent industry figures. Biobakkerij De Trog, E.D.&A., JTEKT, Ontex, Punch Powertrain, TE Connectivity and Van Hoecke NV follow Continental, Dentsply Implants, Newtec and Provan as the winners of the Factory of the Future awards.
Family-run SME E.D.&A. (Electronics, Development & Assembling) develops and produces custom-made electronic control systems for machines and equipment for both industrial and consumer applications. The company has had its own production facility (‘insourcing’) in Kalmthout for around three years now: it automated much of its production process, yielding substantial improvements in terms of quality, flexibility, costs and internal lead times. Cooperation has also been vital in this respect – not just between engineers, production workers and testers in different departments, but also with companies (both partners and clients) in Belgium and further afield. The result? A continuous stream of new, innovative ideas and breakthrough projects that have made it possible to produce large series in Belgium too. Along with in-house expertise and automation, the company sets great store by getting things right the first time, efficiency, lean product development and ecology. Positioning itself as its clients’ ‘external electronics department’, E.D.&A. has seen its turnover increase more than fivefold in 12 years.
JTEKT Torsen Europe, based in Strépy-Bracquegnies, is the global market leader in the production of slip differentials for four-wheel-drive vehicles. Alongside its production activities, the company is also involved in R&D and has its own testing infrastructure. With a view to maintaining its position and continuing to grow – to achieve greater volumes, greater diversity in product types and a larger customer base – JTEKT is investing in people and material, (local) R&D and technology. The company has adopted an approach that astutely combines integration and efficiency, automation and digitalisation, and eco-design and eco-production. JTEKT attaches considerable importance to cooperation, both with the clients with whom and for whom it produces its customised products, and with its workforce, who are given responsibility, flexibility and ample opportunity for personal development. Results for the past four years show a strong increase in the workforce and a volume that has more than doubled. Energy efficiency rose by over 54% between 2005 and 2012 and the product weight of various differentials has fallen by over 40%.
What began as a subsidiary of DAF grew into Punch Powertrain, an independent developer and producer of automatic transmission systems, headquartered in Sint-Truiden. This international player is dedicated to developing products for hybrid and electric vehicles. Knowledge and innovation in processes and production form the core of Punch Powertrain’s sustainable business model: product and process development and key component production all take place in Belgium, while final assembly of the transmission systems takes place close to the client (all assembly is currently performed by the company’s own plant in China). Commitment and self-steering form the basis of the company’s general improvement drive for its production activities, and there is a real focus on teamwork, planning, knowledge-sharing and development of talent and skills. 5S housekeeping principles are applied to keep the factory well-organised, while Kaizen is used for process innovation; process improvements are developed by self-steering teams. Punch Powertrain’s turnover, volume and workforce are set to grow by 50-70% a year over the next five years, and the company is working closely with external parties at all levels and in all departments to achieve that.
Multinational TE Connectivity produces a range of components for the automotive sector at its site in Oostkamp. Not only did the company design and build its own production lines, it also uses its site as a pilot plant for lots of new machines and production lines, and the business’s new process technologies are trialled there first. TE Connectivity is banking on efficient design and special product manufacturing to further enhance its growth. Production line optimisation, production and productivity boosts and an environmentally-friendly approach have a vital role to play in this. The company is also focusing considerable efforts on agile, self-steering process organisation. The site employs around 700 people, and that figure has remained stable despite moderate production growth and rising productivity. Average lead times have halved over the last four years. Processes are self-monitoring and adjust themselves as needed, thus requiring fewer manual interventions. Despite the company’s growth, energy and material consumption have both decreased and incoming transport has been optimised and reduced thanks to extensive cooperation with logistics partner DSV.
Ypres-based Biobakkerij De Trog has been going from strength to strength in recent years, with annual growth of over 25%. Working in close cooperation with local suppliers, it produces fresh, top-quality, traditionally-made bread for retail, food service and a wide network of independent organic shops each day. The company’s approach combines large-scale production, product flexibility (300 product references!) and a short time-to-market for new products. Open innovation and automation are key to its success – novel developments include its own in-house software, order-picking with smart glasses and various robotics applications. Everything is determined by the product and the quality, within a human-centred production process. The company’s HR policy is characterised by in-depth training, employee versatility and an open culture structured around teamwork and commitment. In just three years, turnover has tripled, the workforce has doubled, the production yield has increased substantially and delivery reliability has dramatically improved, resulting in an average service level of 99.87%.
Over the course of 40 years, Eeklo-based Ontex has grown from a mattress-cover producer to a global player in the production of nappies, sanitary towels and continence management solutions. Its strategy centres on R&D activities geared towards a unique product mix, supported by process and product development. The project teams base their work on product landscaping, consumer insights and concept labs. End-of-line automation was introduced in the production side, resulting in multi-functional, self-steering teams of versatile employees. Ontex also sets great store by networking and open innovation: it is involved in a number of international partnerships and industrial associations. The company’s success in innovating is reflected in its delivery reliability of 98.5% and the 20% reduction in material use for nappies since 2009, coupled with improved quality. Recent years have seen Ontex make substantial investments in processes, machines and new technology, and the company is looking to continue growing and innovating in years to come. Its plans include a new production line for pull-on nappies.
Van Hoecke in Sint-Niklaas started out as a distributor of furniture fittings for the local market and has grown into a producer and international market player. After achieving a market share of 80%, the company felt it was time to diversify its product range and studied its clients and the challenges they faced with a view to offering faster, more efficient responses to the complexity and variation in their production activities. Van Hoecke’s production equipment is designed to handle very small product series with short lead times. Digitalisation has brought a host of benefits, both within and outside the factory: now, customers can even input and modify orders and customise products. The newest generation of products has allowed a substantial extension of the export radius, opening up new opportunities for growth. In the next few years, the company aims to boost its production capacity with additional machines, continue automating and optimise the layout.
Want to find out more about how Agoria and Sirris are helping businesses to prepare for Industry 4.0? Then head over to the Made Different website.
You can read a short report on the Factory of the Future Awards 2016 prize-giving ceremony here.
- A humble sticker is all you need to make your outlet accessible to any driver who has a special eCloud adapter. This Belgian solution enables your car to charge faster at home at your employer’s cost or when visiting friends or at work. The Belgian start-up The eCloud Company is launching its innovative solution in
A humble sticker is all you need to make your outlet accessible to any driver who has a special eCloud adapter. This Belgian solution enables your car to charge faster at home at your employer’s cost or when visiting friends or at work.
The Belgian start-up The eCloud Company is launching its innovative solution in 2016. The company’s founders, Patrick Coulier, Frank Daems, Hans Bracquene and Philip Coulier, presented the first prototype of their charging system at the Brussels Motor Show.
Everyone simply becomes a charging station
How does the system work? It is very simple.
“Anyone who wants to set up a charging station for themself, for friends, colleagues, visitors or passers-by can register their charging point on the eCloud platform”, said Frank Daems. “He or she will then be sent a number of stickers. As soon as they use them to label their outlet, the service is activated.
Drivers simply plug in their line with an eCloud adapter. The rest of the process is fully automatic. A connection between the adapter and a chip in the sticker keeps track of who has filled up how much and where.”
Owners paid for the service rendered
The owners of outlet are paid for the electricity they supply. This remuneration amounts to one third of the average price of diesel at the time of charging, currently €0.33 per kWh, more than the market price, to pay for the service rendered by the owner of the outlet.
The money is automatically transferred between the respective bank accounts every month.
But is every outlet safe for your expensive electric car, with no problems?
“We are aware of this concern”, said Daems, an engineer. “For this reason we built a safety feature into the adapter which first checks whether the charging point is safe, whether it provides the right electricity, is properly earthed and does not merely draw off power. Furthermore, no sticker can be removed without becoming unusable.”
Alternative to an employer’s fuel card
“Leasing companies have been looking for an alternative to an employers’ fuel card for some time now”, said Daems. “As things stand, employees can charge their vehicle at home, but at their own cost. Using eCloud, the employer pays for the consumption of electricity, just like it does for diesel or petrol at a filling station.”
By working together with European leasing companies and large fleet owners, eCloud wants to roll out its system internationally as quickly as possible.
Investment to product launch
So far the founders have invested in the development of their idea, in the hardware and software, with subsidies from IWT. Right now they are concluding talks with larger investors. The product will first become available for sale in 2016.
Rue Louis de Geer, 6
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- Engineers at Punch Powertrain have surprised us by producing their own car. In their free time they have developed the Kerv, a cross between a motorbike and a car. Their concept car will be ready to take to the road in 2016. The Kerv will be officially unveiled in mid-February. The three-wheeler, which combines the
Engineers at Punch Powertrain have surprised us by producing their own car. In their free time they have developed the Kerv, a cross between a motorbike and a car. Their concept car will be ready to take to the road in 2016.
The Kerv will be officially unveiled in mid-February. The three-wheeler, which combines the cornering capability of a motorbike with the comfort and safety of a car, will be presented by the men behind the start-up Kerv Automotive.
The vehicle should already be on sale by the end of 2017.
Fuelled by petrol or electricity
The car is compact, measuring 1.4 metres by 3-4 m and can choose between a 1.5-litre turbo engine or an electric drive.
The Kerv is still in an early phase of development. The first clay model has been sculpted, the drawings are finished and work is being done on a number of variants (full bodywork, a cabrio and a hardtop with a removable roof). Furthermore, the start-up is designing a logo, tightening up the business model and organising a press conference.
Strong partners are investing and delivering components
What started out as a hobby project has now become a start-up with some major investors and partners.
The capital is being provided by LRM and a group of private individuals who have teamed up in a Dutch company.
Partners like Punch Powertrain will become suppliers.
The aim is to make it a Limburg-based project. “The start-up is setting up shop in Greenville”, said LRM Head of Corporate Affairs Jeroen Bloemen told BeAutomotive. “This is a centre for green companies in the former headquarters of the Kempen Coal Mines in Houthalen-Helchteren. The vehicle will be developed, designed and assembled here in Belgium. Only some components will be manufactured abroad.”
The manufacturing industry has a future
“We believe that the manufacturing industry in our country has a future”, said Bloemen. “Many Limburg-based companies have automotive expertise.”
The other Belgian three-wheeler, the E-Car 333, is delaying the sales launch of its model by a year. However, the team behind its development has made a short film about a successful test drive on the Zolder circuit.
- “The electric vehicle is the product of the future; our country could not miss the boat” “The news that a top car manufacturer such as Audi has chosen our country for the production site of its new flagship vehicle is a wonderful token of trust,” says Marc Lambotte, CEO of Agoria. The technology federation congratulates
“The electric vehicle is the product of the future; our country could not miss the boat”
“The news that a top car manufacturer such as Audi has chosen our country for the production site of its new flagship vehicle is a wonderful token of trust,” says Marc Lambotte, CEO of Agoria. The technology federation congratulates the management and staff of Audi Brussels for being awarded the production of the Audi e-tron SUV. “The electric vehicle is the product of the future. Getting exclusivity for the production is good news for Audi of Brussels, but also for the rest of our economy. Indeed, the launch of a new high-tech vehicle allows our country to position itself internationally as a reliable partner for this technology. Our country could not miss this boat and we now have to pursue our efforts to attract and support new investments in this technology.”
Agoria is not surprised that Audi decided to entrust the production of this model to the Brussels plant: not only has the plant been constantly upgraded in recent years, but the odds were in the favour of the Audi Brussels employees because of their high quality work and productivity. By opting for Audi Brussels, Audi confirmed its long-term vision for the Belgian branch. Gradual preparations of the plant and its people ahead of the production start-up will begin as soon as the spring of 2016. For instance, the first staff training courses are already scheduled in the summer of 2016.
An international calling card
Lambotte also emphasizes the importance of this decision for our economy: “This is an international calling card and proof that our country has a good reputation when it comes to high-tech manufacturing. But now we must pursue our efforts to live up to this reputation. For one thing, the public authorities in our country really have to step up the greening of the fleet and infrastructure. Also, the recently announced measures concerning the taxshift and sustained elimination of the wage handicap are crucial if we want to attract new international investors.”
Lambotte points out that Belgium has great potential to build a new economic value chain rallying existing and prospective new companies under the banner of a green and smart mobility industry. “In addition to Audi, our country is home to a few more strong players who have earned their spurs in the field of electric vehicles. They are very much involved in the transition of the Belgian car industry towards a green and smart mobility industry.”
Belgian companies take the lead
Van Hool has played the card of high quality and environmentally friendly public transport for quite some time.Three electric Van Hool buses charged wirelessly via induction are currently driving in the streets of the historic Bruges city centre. In addition, Van Hool is leading the European 3EMotion project, under which the company will supply 21 hydrogen buses deployed in Rotterdam, London, Antwerp, Cherbourg and Rome. With the EquiCity Multi Propulsion platform, Van Hool is offering an innovative concept of high-quality environmentally friendly public transport vehicle, which can be driven by a hybrid, fully electric (battery) or a fuel cell propulsion system.
VDL Bus Roeselare has also evolved in that direction. They were selected by parent company VDL to be the competence centre and production facility for all future electric city buses. Recently, the company got yet another order for 6 fully electric city buses for Cologne in Germany. VDL is also investigating the possibility of autonomous vehicles: initial studies have been started under the impetus of Flanders Make.
But that’s not all. Belgian vehicle industry suppliers have also been successful in introducing green technology:
- Umicore supplies materials for the production of lithium batteries and runs the most state-of-the-art recycling facility for such batteries in Hoboken.
- Recently, the Swiss battery manufacturer Leclanché, through the acquisition of Malle-based Trineuron, chose to relocate its application development in Turnhout.
- Punch Powertrain is seeing a steady increase in its sales of hybrid powertrains to Chinese automotive manufacturers, with the prospect of doubling its turnover by 2020.
- Leuven-based PEC develops and supplies machines which allow Nissan to produce more efficient battery cells for the next generation Nissan Leaf.
- Finally, Volvo Cars has also developed a new range that will be built in Ghent from 2017. The new models use the newly developed “Compact Modular Architecture (CMA)” platform which is electrification ready from the concept stage. This will allow the Ghent plant to produce plugin hybrids and pure electric models, as well as these new models.
- In 2015, there were, in all, 2,871 electric cars in Belgium, as opposed to the 1,792 calculated by the Federal Public Service (FPS) Economy in 2014. In other words, the number of electric cars in Belgium increased by 60.2% in the space of just a year. There have been sharp rises in the number of
In 2015, there were, in all, 2,871 electric cars in Belgium, as opposed to the 1,792 calculated by the Federal Public Service (FPS) Economy in 2014. In other words, the number of electric cars in Belgium increased by 60.2% in the space of just a year.
There have been sharp rises in the number of electric passenger vehicles year on year since 2009, when there were just 10 such vehicles on the Belgian roads.
This grew to 36 in 2010, 162 in 2011, 647 in 2012 and 919 in 2013.
Nineteen vehicles already registered in 2016, says Energy Minister Annemie Turtelboom
While these numbers are relatively small, they do show a clear trend, agrees Flemish Minister for Energy Annemie Turtelboom.
“In the first 10 days of January 2016, 19 electric vehicles were registered”, the Minister pointed out at the European Motor Show in Brussels (http://autosalon.be/en). “In the same period in 2015, there was only one such registration. What’s more, six CNG vehicles were registered, whereas in the first 10 days of 2015 there were no registrations of this type of vehicle.”
€5,000 subsidy for purchases of electric vehicles
The Minister would like to see registrations of electric vehicles reaching 60,000 by 2020. She is also setting a target of 5,000 public charging stations in Flanders being in place by then.
These objectives will be supported by a subsidy of up to €5,000 when buying an electric or zero-emissions hydrogen-powered vehicle.
Another piece of good news is that six operators of charging stations have decided to open up their network to the five other companies within this group.
- It is not merely inside the latest vehicles that innovation takes place. The services around those cars are also constantly improving. The Belgian Record Bank, for instance, has just launched the revolutionary Get This Car app. the fastest and easiest credit simulation. Are you also looking for a new car? And do you already know
It is not merely inside the latest vehicles that innovation takes place. The services around those cars are also constantly improving. The Belgian Record Bank, for instance, has just launched the revolutionary Get This Car app. the fastest and easiest credit simulation.
Are you also looking for a new car? And do you already know how much your car loan will amount to? Not easy to make this calculation quickly for every car you may be interested in buying at the Motor Show. Or for every car you see or hear advertised.
Credit information based on radio spot
The Belgian Get This Car app gives you realtime credit information. Scan a car ad, allow the app to listen to a radio spot or watch a TV commercial. Alternatively, you can fill in manually the details of your dream car. A few seconds later, you will already receive a car loan simulation. You can share the credit simulation with your friends via WhatsApp or by e-mail.
All simulations are recorded, and you can compare them. Still, you’d like to adjust the repayment period? You can do that too in a single click. Comparing the terms and the financing proposal of the car manufacturer itself has never been so easy.
Belgian app takes the hassle out of car financing
“With the ‘Get This Car’ app, we are resolutely responding to the evolving needs of customers,” says Christa Decaestecker, chief commercial officer at Record Bank. “We are proud to provide the simplest tool to create a simulation for car financing, as a result. As one of the biggest players in the consumer credit market, we’ve made a conscious choice to appear as innovative in this very sector.”
Want to see how it works? This video explains the Get This Car app .
- “Now that we are using electricity for transport, it is high time that we rethink the vehicles themselves.” That is exactly what Eric Verhulst and his team of engineers at Altreonic in Lubbeek have done. The result? The remarkable KURT e-vehicle, the lab prototype of which has elicited very positive reactions from the market. The
“Now that we are using electricity for transport, it is high time that we rethink the vehicles themselves.” That is exactly what Eric Verhulst and his team of engineers at Altreonic in Lubbeek have done. The result? The remarkable KURT e-vehicle, the lab prototype of which has elicited very positive reactions from the market.
The revamped electric vehicle is a compact cart for use in urban areas. Without generating any emissions or noise and taking up little space, the KURT e-vehicle can transport people as well as cargo thanks to its modifiable and scalable design. Hospitals, schools and couriers are now expressing interest in the innovative solution from Lubbeek-based Altreonic, too.
New Segway under development
“The e-mobility platform, a.k.a KURT, is the result of a symbiosis of ideas”, says Eric Verhulst, CEO and CTO of Altreonic.
“First of all, we wanted to resolve the issue of reduced mobility but in an environmentally friendly way.
“Secondly, the closure of Opel Antwerp made us think that we could have better invested the millions of euro spent on premiums in the construction of an electric car.
“And thirdly, a study with Flanders Drive regarding the Segway confirmed that a self-balancing Segway is not a particularly safe mode of transport. Two wheels are only sufficient under optimum conditions.”
Each wheel has its own battery
This brainstorming resulted in a vehicle with four wheels, each of which is equipped with a separate battery, as well as a motor and controller that communicate with one another. The vehicle is thus driven and steered ‘by wire’.
As a result, the vehicle is more compact, resistant to defects and can be driven independently in complete safety. Multiple carts can be coupled to one another, which is impossible with conventional motors that power cars. In contrast, the superstructure can be specifically tailored to a range of applications. An international patent has since been submitted for the design.
Ten carts can transport three tonnes
One KURT module can transport up to four people, or up to 300 kg. By coupling carts to one another, battery capacity and loading capacity can be built up. A train of 10 carts can easily transport three tonnes and can drive around for a whole day.
KURT carts can now be monitored remotely using a smartphone, which also serves as the console and moves the vehicle around. In a later phase, the vehicle will be fitted with sensors so that it can drive around a city (virtually) autonomously. Measuring at least 78 cm wide, KURT carts can even use cycle paths.
One vehicle will initially cost between €10,000 and €25,000, depending on the set-up. These prices are also feasible at low volumes, as this was taken into account during development. Aluminium is predominantly used in a KURT vehicle.
Production scheduled for 2017
The lab prototype passed all tests and evoked a positive response on the market. A real prototype is now undergoing extensive tests. This shall be further tested and validated in hospitals, cities and schools, for instance, in 2016. Production will start for real in 2017. “2016 marks a turning point, a year in which more capital will also be needed”, says Verhulst.
At the moment, Verhulst thinks that €5 million is needed to further develop KURT and market it around the world. “We are initially focusing on Europe. We will then take it worldwide with a franchising strategy”.
Altreonic is also in space
Altreonic now employs six people at its Lubbeek site.
It is a technological company that designs advanced system solutions. For example, the company also helped to create software for Rosetta, a space probe built by the European Space Agency that set course for a comet 511 million km away and sends interesting photos back to Earth.
Read more about the KURT e-vehicle here
- Do we drive more safely with an app that checks and rewards our driving behaviour? That is the question that brought about the new Belgian Motosmarty app. Positive reinforcement. Good driving behaviour is rewarded with filmtickets, phone credit, discount at festivals. Such is the motivation of the Motomarty app. The young company founded by Maciej
Do we drive more safely with an app that checks and rewards our driving behaviour? That is the question that brought about the new Belgian Motosmarty app.
Positive reinforcement. Good driving behaviour is rewarded with filmtickets, phone credit, discount at festivals. Such is the motivation of the Motomarty app. The young company founded by Maciej Myslinski and Mateusz Maj collaborated with the University of Hasselt and iMinds research centre to create an app designed to help young drivers drive safer.
The young Poles Maciej Myslinski and Mateuse Maj already have an impressive track-record. They came to study in our country, obtained a PhD from KU Leuven University and founded the start-up Digital Driving Pass and Road Vikings.
“Negative feedback does not work”
“In a bid to address inappropriate behaviour, young people today are mainly told what they should not be doing; this means they get negative feedback. And if we look at the evolution of statistics, that approach does not seem to work,” explain the initiators of Motosmarty.
“We hope to reverse this trend with the ‘Road Vikings’ initiative. Good driving behaviour is rewarded.”
More than 1,000 young drivers
The Road Vikings app can be downloaded by anyone with an Android phone. Over 1,000 young drivers have already joined the Road Vikings community.
The app monitors and assesses the driving ability on the basis of speed, acceleration, braking and distraction (due to using a mobile phone while driving for example). It combines this data to information relating to the nature of the roads on which the car has been driven. After each drive, users receive a score and feedback to help them become better drivers.
Drivers who stick to the rules score points. And in an attempt to curb macho behaviour, a driver who respects the speed limit on a weekend night wins more points than when he has behaved well behind the wheel the same afternoon.
Measurable impact on road safety
“We will thoroughly investigate their driving habits over the coming months. The better they drive, the greater the reward they receive. And that should have a measurable effect on road safety.”
Any minor drawbacks? Environmental factors have not yet been built into the app. For instance, suddenly braking for a pedestrian may be good for road safety, but not in terms of scoring points. Leaving the car behind to cycle instead delivers no points at all.
Watch here the report about Motosmarty in De Afspraak.
- Have you ever thought what the coach of the future might look like? About the kind of concept vehicle that would offer long-distance travellers a much more comfortable, environmentally friendlier and more aesthetically pleasing experience? Well, Jeroen Claus, a member of the young design collective Design by Frank, came up with a blueprint for such
Have you ever thought what the coach of the future might look like? About the kind of concept vehicle that would offer long-distance travellers a much more comfortable, environmentally friendlier and more aesthetically pleasing experience?
Well, Jeroen Claus, a member of the young design collective Design by Frank, came up with a blueprint for such a coach during his dissertation year. With technical support from the Dutch coachbuilder VDL Bus & Coach, Jeroen designed the Next Generation Long-Distance Coach, a concept vehicle for 2030.
Coach crashes banished to the past
A succession of coach crashes claiming numerous lives brought home to Jeroen Claus the critical importance of making future road travel far safer. “Why do today’s coaches still look like vulnerable tin cans? We need to take a radical new approach to coach design. Just focussing on safety features would not be enough”, the freshly graduated product designer told BeAutomotive in an interview.
An on-board computer ready to intervene at all times
His new design is 99.9% safe in traffic thanks to an array of sensors, cameras and Lidar (‘light/radar’) remote sensing technology working in conjunction with a vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) network to which all road traffic is connected.
The operating environment will also play a crucial role, so Jeroen plans his self-driven coaches to run in safe, green bus lanes in a computer-controlled traffic system. And even on provincial and smaller roads the computer will still always be capable of intervening without any input from the driver whenever a dangerous situation arises.
A striking whale-inspired design
Jeroen drew his inspiration for the coach’s singular design from nature, more specifically from the shape of the whale. “The natural, whale-like shape gives the vehicle a drag coefficient similar to that of a car, making it perform 25% better than present-day coaches, a feat successfully proven by virtual aerodynamic simulation.
Other features built into Jeroen’s design:
- Zero emissions, thanks to on-board batteries or hydrogen tanks;
- green corridors, or dedicated sections of motorway where lorries and coaches can be driven automatically at high speed ‘in convoy’, while their batteries are simultaneously being charged by magnetic induction;
- width-adjustable seats, tailored to the passenger and depending on the ticket;
- 2 smaller wheels instead of a single, conventional coach wheel, making the passenger deck 50% lower, which facilitates boarding and improves road holding by lowering the vehicle’s centre of gravity.
To read more about the coach of the future, see http://designbyfrank.com/next-generation-coach.html.
- Formula Electric Belgium is een team ingenieursstudenten van de KU Leuven en de Thomas More hogeschool, dat elk jaar deelneemt aan de internationale Formula Student competition. Tijdens deze competitie komen ingenieursstudenten van over de hele wereld samen om het tegen elkaar op te nemen met hun zelfgebouwde elektrische racewagen. Bij de bouw van de wagens ligt de focus
Formula Electric Belgium is een team ingenieursstudenten van de KU Leuven en de Thomas More hogeschool, dat elk jaar deelneemt aan de internationale Formula Student competition. Tijdens deze competitie komen ingenieursstudenten van over de hele wereld samen om het tegen elkaar op te nemen met hun zelfgebouwde elektrische racewagen. Bij de bouw van de wagens ligt de focus steeds op innovatie en duurzaamheid. Door de combinatie van de recentste technologieën met de creatieve passie van de studenten is Formula Electric Belgium er het afgelopen jaar in geslaagd om de snelst accelererende wagen van België te ontwikkelen.
In de zomer van 2016 wil het team opnieuw deelnemen aan 3 competities, waaronder het wereldkampioenschap in Hockenheim (Duitsland). De wagen voor die races zullen de studenten het komende academiejaar bouwen en ze zullen daarbij streven naar nog een beter resultaat dan de vorige jaren. Steeds hebben ze het motto “Green innovation meets perfomance” in gedachten.
Zet uw bedrijf in de kijker !
Dit alles kunnen ze echter niet alleen! Het project steunt op de samenwerking tussen de studenten en de industriële partners. De goede samenwerkingen uit het verleden moedigen hen aan om blijvend te zoeken naar interessante bedrijven waarmee ze samen dit project tot een succes kunnen maken.
Voor de deelnemende partners is er ook een duidelijke meerwaarde die zich kan manifesteren onder verschillende vormen. Door doorlopende en exclusieve promoties wordt uw bedrijf in de kijker gezet doorheen het jaar en op belangrijke automotive events, waar hun wagen geregeld te gast is. Een groot partnernetwerk brengt u dichter bij collega’s uit de industrie. De elektrische racewagen kan bovendien dienen als demonstratieplatform voor nieuwe technologieën.
Meer info vindt u op de website www.formulaelectric.be.
Een uitgebreid overzicht van de beschikbare partnerformules vindt u in het partnerdossier
- Toyota Motor Europe opent midden 2016 het eerste Belgische waterstof tankstation voor het grote publiek. De eerste spade werd zopas in de grond gestoken. Het station wordt gebouwd, onderhouden en in dienst genomen door Air Liquide. Air Liquide moest niet alleen beginnen aan de bouw. Ze werden voor de eerste spadesteek (http://blog.toyota.eu/2015/10/05/ground-breaking-first-public-hydrogen-station-in-belgium-is-being-built-on-toyota-land/) geholpen door: Annemie
Toyota Motor Europe opent midden 2016 het eerste Belgische waterstof tankstation voor het grote publiek. De eerste spade werd zopas in de grond gestoken. Het station wordt gebouwd, onderhouden en in dienst genomen door Air Liquide.
Air Liquide moest niet alleen beginnen aan de bouw. Ze werden voor de eerste spadesteek (http://blog.toyota.eu/2015/10/05/ground-breaking-first-public-hydrogen-station-in-belgium-is-being-built-on-toyota-land/) geholpen door:
- Annemie Turtelboom, Vlaams viceminister-president en Vlaams minister van Energie,
- Masahisa Nagata, europe executive vice-president van Toyota Motor,
- Diederick Luijten, industries director for industrial merchant bij Air Liquide Benelux,
- Bert De Colvenaer, executive director bij het publiek-private partnerschip Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU).
Iedereen kan tanken bij Toyota Motor Europe
Het station bevindt zich op de terreinen van Toyota Motor Europe, vlakbij hun R&D Technical and Training Centres (http://www.toyota.eu/Pages/default.aspx). TME stelt dit terrein in Zaventem gedurende 20 jaar gratis ter beschikking. Iedereen kan er komen tanken.
Masahisa Nagata, R&D Executive Vice-Presiden bij Toyota Motor Europe zei op het persmoment: “Toyota heeft een waterstofmaatschappij voor ogen waarin de mobiliteit is opgebouwd rond uitstootvrije voertuigen. Tankinfrastructuur is cruciaal als we brandstofcelvoertuigen democratischer willen maken. Wanneer partners zoals lokale en Europese beleidsmakers en energieleveranciers zoals Air Liquide samenwerken, maken we de waterstofmaatschappij van de toekomst een stuk realistischer.”
Toyota lanceert Mirai op Autosalon
Andere belangrijke mijlpaal in 2016 zal de voorstelling zijn van de Toyota Mirai (https://ssl.toyota.com/mirai/fcv.html) op het Autosalon van Brussel. Deze wagen op waterstof zal voorlopig enkel als leasingwagen te krijgen zijn, met een prijs rond de 50.700 euro.
Ook Colruyt positief over waterstof
Colruyt is een andere voorloper in het waterstof verhaal. De Belgische distributiegroep opende eerder een tankstation op de site van het distributiecentrum in Halle. Sinds 2012 produceert het er groene waterstof, uit hernieuwbare energie afkomstig van de windturbines en zonnepanelen op de site.
Het waterstoftankstation maakt 2,7 kg waterstof per uur aan en kan tot 39 kg opslaan. Eind maart 2015 was er in 2.000 beurten al ruim 2.000 kg waterstof getankt voor 11 heftrucks en transpalletten en 1 personenvoertuig. De werknemers van de groep kunnen namelijk sinds mei 2014 testrijden met een Hyundai ix35 FCEV (http://worldwide.hyundai.com/WW/Showroom/Eco/ix35-Fuel-Cell/PIP/index.html).
De eerste evaluatie is positief. “Aangezien ook het tankstation en de toestellen functioneren zoals verwacht, bestuderen we een uitbreiding van het station én de waterstofvloot”, klinkt het bij Colruyt (http://www.simplysustainable.be/verhalen/leefmilieu/waterstoftankstation/).
- Van 16 tot 21 oktober vond opnieuw de tweejaarlijkse beurs Busworld plaats in Kortrijk. Met 32.000 bezoekers uit 116 landen en 390 standhouders uit 34 landen is dit de belangrijkste beurs in de sector. Ook een aantal Agoria-lidbedrijven waren aanwezig met een beursstand: Van Hool, uit Koningshooikt presenteerde op Busworld zijn gamma bussen en coachen
Van 16 tot 21 oktober vond opnieuw de tweejaarlijkse beurs Busworld plaats in Kortrijk. Met 32.000 bezoekers uit 116 landen en 390 standhouders uit 34 landen is dit de belangrijkste beurs in de sector.
Ook een aantal Agoria-lidbedrijven waren aanwezig met een beursstand:
- Van Hool, uit Koningshooikt presenteerde op Busworld zijn gamma bussen en coachen samen met de BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) Exquicity.
- Om te beantwoorden aan de groeiende nood van de steden naar bescherming van het milieu biedt Van Hool een volledig gamma moderne milieuvriendelijke bussen aan, gaande van Euro IV diesel aandrijving tot CNG (gecomprimeerd aardgas), trolleybussen en hybride brandstofcelbussen.
- Onlangs leverde Van Hool een 24 meter EquiCity aan de stad Bergen in Noorwegen. Deze hybride bus wordt aangedreven door biogas wat resulteert in een brandstof- en C02-besparing van 20% in vergelijking met traditionele voertuigen.
- Daarnaast haalde Van Hool ook een opdracht binnen voor het leveren van 14 EquiCity trambussen aan Martinique. (zie foto). Ook presenteerde Van Hool het project rond elektrische bussen in Brugge, waar 3 elektrische stadsbussen draadloos via inductie worden opgeladen.
- VDL Bus Roeselare toonde zijn CITEA-bus op de stand van moederbedrijf VDL Bus & Coach. Vandaag legt VDL Bus Roeselare sterk de focus op elektrische stadsbussen. Zo levert VDL Bus Roeselare 8 elektrisch aangedreven 18-meter gelede CITEA-stadsbussen aan de stad Keulen. Op het dak van de bussen is een pantograaf aangebracht waarmee de lithium-ion accu’s van ruim 100 kWh snel kunnen opgeladen worden aan de bushaltes.
- Dhollandia uit Lokeren is vooral gekend als constructeur van laadkleppen en goederenliften voor commerciële voertuigen, en behoort tot de wereld top-3 van grootste laadklepfabrikanten voor de transport industrie. Dhollandia is sinds 14 jaar ook actief in de mobility-sector, ontwikkelt en promoot tal van oplossingen ten behoeve van:
– de private mobiliteit;
– De publieke mobiliteit, openbaar vervoer, toerisme en reisbussen;
– Ambulances, taxi’s, toepassingen op maat.
- Op busworld 2015 stelde Dhollandia drie nieuwe passagiersliften tentoon.
- Exel Composites uit Oudenaarde is gespecialiseerd in het maken van composiet profielen voor de binnen- en buitenbekleding van bussen en treinen. Onder meer de volledige binnenhemel van de Desiro treinen in Brussel werd in Oudenaarde geproduceerd. Exel Composites levert over heel Europa aan de meeste bus en treinbouwers.
- Grass Tech Solutions uit Louvain-la-Neuve is met zijn Clear Passs produkten de erkende marktleider op vlak van opspatafschermingssystemen voor vrachtwagens, opleggers, bussen en autocars. Clear Pass verbetert de verkeersveiligheid door het verminderen van het opspattend water bij nat wegdek. Dit zorgt voor beter zicht voor achterliggende voertuigen en tegenliggers. Ook zorgt Clear Pass voor een verminderd geluid, wat een comfortverhoging betekent voor de passagiers.
Om het belang van de sector te onderstrepen, organiseerde Agoria op maandag 19 oktober een geleid beursbezoek met Minister Ben Weyts, Vlaams minister van Mobiliteit en Openbare Werken, Vlaamse Rand, Toerisme en Dierenwelzijn en Staatssecretaris Bart Tommelein, Staatssecretaris voor Bestrijding van de sociale fraude, Privacy en Noordzee, toegevoegd aan de minister van Sociale Zaken en Volksgezondheid. Tijdens het bezoek maakten de minster en staatssecretaris kennis met de bedrijven in de sector en hun producten en lieten ze zich informeren over hun toekomstvisie en uitdagingen.
- 3 bussen van Van Hool rijden voortaan stiller en milieuvriendelijker door het historische hart van Brugge. Opmerkelijk is dat de batterijen van deze nieuwe elektrische voertuigen via inductie geladen worden. Een draadloze laadbeurt vraagt slechts 12 minuten, om vervolgens 45 minuten te kunnen rijden. De bussen waarmee De Lijn nu door Brugge rijdt zijn het
3 bussen van Van Hool rijden voortaan stiller en milieuvriendelijker door het historische hart van Brugge. Opmerkelijk is dat de batterijen van deze nieuwe elektrische voertuigen via inductie geladen worden. Een draadloze laadbeurt vraagt slechts 12 minuten, om vervolgens 45 minuten te kunnen rijden.
De bussen waarmee De Lijn nu door Brugge rijdt zijn het resultaat van een mooie samenwerking tussen bedrijven.
Consortium van Vlaamse bedrijven
De voertuigen werden gebouwd door Van Hool uit Koningshooikt (Lier). Bombardier uit Brugge stelde haar PRIMOVE-technologie voor inductief laden ter beschikking. Leclanché (het vroegere Trineuron) uit Malle leverde de batterijen en nachtladers. Flanders Make, iMinds en de Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) zorgen voor de wetenschappelijke en technologische expertise en ondersteuning. Punch Powertrain uit Sint-Truiden coördineert het project.
Bij het laden via inductie komt geen draad aan te pas. De bus krijgt haar elektrische energie aangeleverd via een magnetisch veld tussen het laadstation en de bus. De technologie is dezelfde als bij een inductiekookplaat en een elektrische tandenborstel die inductief geladen wordt, maar dan met een veel hoger vermogen.
Geen schadelijke uitstoot
“De elektrische bussen hebben twee grote voordelen”, zegt directeur-generaal van De Lijn Roger Kesteloot. “Deze bussen stoten helemaal niets uit, dus ook geen schadelijke stoffen als CO2, NOx en fijn stof. Omdat De Lijn alleen groene stroom koopt, is er ook bij de productie van de energie geen uitstoot. Daarnaast zijn de bussen erg stil door de afwezigheid van een dieselmotor. Een zoemtoon is het enige wat je hoort. Bij het vertrek aan de halte is de bus ook 3 keer stiller dan een gewone dieselbus.”
4,5 miljoen in pre-commerciële voertuigen
De elektrische bussen zijn een onderdeel van het grotere proefproject EVTecLab (http://proeftuin-ev.be/content/evteclab-platform) van de Vlaamse overheid. Daarbij doen De Lijn en transportbedrijven ervaring op met pre-commerciële voertuigen ontwikkeld door Vlaamse bedrijven. Het project bouwt 20 bestelwagens, 2 vrachtwagens, 3 bussen om naar een aandrijving op elektriciteit. Ook aan een waterstofbus wordt gesleuteld.
Het consortium en de overheid investeerden 4,5 miljoen euro in het proefproject. 1,5 miljoen euro van dit budget was voorzien voor de elektrische bussen en het inductieve laadstation in Brugge.
Meer informatie over het Flanders Make project: