Lero, Kostal to develop smarter assembly lines

Dr Joseph Walsh, IT Tralee and Kieran O’Donoghue, Kostal Ireland
Dr Joseph Walsh, IT Tralee and Kieran O’Donoghue, Kostal Ireland

Autonomous vehicles to help spread the load at Limerick plant

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11 July 2018 | 0

Automotive electronic systems manufacturer Kostal has announced an €800,000 R&D programme with SFI software development research centre Lero to develop a smart assembly line.

The research will develop autonomous systems for Kostal’s power electronic products for electric vehicles at its plant in Abbeyfeale.

“There is a common misconception out there that Ireland, because of its high cost base, cannot be a manufacturing centre. The reality is that the development of increased automation technologies such as this Kostal programme can drive the creation of more profitable and efficient manufacturing in Ireland,” said Dr Joseph Walsh, head of the School of STEM and Lero researcher at IT Tralee who is heading the programme.

Kieran O’Donoghue, assembly & test manager, Kostal Ireland, said: “While automated assembly and robotics already exist, our goal is to develop a more flexible spoke system implementing autonomous intelligent vehicles [AIVs] to be known as KostalRovers. These will provide the flexibility to independently distribute work across lines to better manage volume fluctuations and multiple products compared to the traditional fixed linear production line.”

To achieve this the research will include the sourcing and development of mobile autonomous adaptive systems capable of remote, robotic and autonomous operations. The second strand of research will include advanced data analytics, machine learning and scheduling using data from an array of sensors.

Kostal employs 900 people at its manufacturing plants in Abbeyfeale, Co Limerick, and Mallow, Co Cork.

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