Press Release from Umeå University

SEK 7 million to research collaboration with AB Volvo and Volvo Cars

[2015-12-10] Three Umeå-based researchers were assigned just over SEK 7 million from Vinnova in a joint investment together with AB Volvo and Volvo Cars to strengthen the Swedish automotive industry. The project encompasses the automation of quality inspections and repairs of surface-treated cabs and bodywork. An important tool in this work is statistical analysis of large quantities of real-time data.

“We are very pleased about the grant. It provides an opportunity for a long-term and, hopefully, successful collaboration with the Volvo Group cab plant in Umeå, says Patrik Rydén, senior lecturer at the Department of Mathematics and Mathematical Statistics at Umeå University.

Today, surface treatment is highly automated within the automotive industry, this does, however, not include the still manual inspection and evaluation of damages, repairs and adjustments. Manual quality inspections and root cause analysis is time-consuming and does not necessarily minimise the consequences of the mistakes.

An automated quality control can lead to reduced costs and higher quality. The objective of the three-year project is to develop an efficient real-time automated system of quality inspection and repairs of surface-treated cabs and bodywork based on statistical analysis of large quantities of production data.

Picture of Control station at Volvo.
Control station where automotive paint is scrutinised. Credit: AB Volvo

“We already possess strong research on mathematical statistics focusing on developing statistical methods in order to analyse complex and large amounts of data, so-called big data, with applications mostly in technology, biology and medicine. This project opens up for a new and highly interesting field,” says Jun Yu, professor at the Department of Mathematics and Mathematical Statistics.

It is becoming easier and cheaper to produce data, and according to IBM, 90 per cent of all data globally has been produced over the last two years. In the manufacturing sector, big data is being generated in real-time. On each industry robot, a large number of variables are being observed through sensors and cameras. The project involves developing methods and tools to enable real-time information to be extracted and to make decisions based on such information.

One of the challenges of the project is, according to the researchers themselves, to enable an efficient collaboration where various types of expertise from Umeå University, AB Volvo and Volvo Cars integrate to solve intricate problems that the project faces.

“We see great potential in combining the companies’ knowledge of production with our theoretical expertise,” says Shafiq ur Réhman, deputy senior lecturer at the Department of Applied Physics and Electronics.

The project, coordinated by the Volvo Group Competence Centre in Umeå, will kick-off with a workshop where representatives of the academy and industry will discuss how big data can be used to improve quality in the manufacturing industry.

The project can have a ripple effect and also lead to strengthening education in the subject field mathematical statistics and the Master of Science in Industrial Engineering and Management programme with special focus on industrial economics at Umeå University.

“The need for statistical competence within the industry is growing concurrently with the automation and digitalisation of the industries. The collaboration with the Volvo Group cab plant in Umeå enables the development of the course content of our Master of Science in Engineering programmes to make the student’s qualifications in statistics meet the industry demand and expectations, says Leif Nilsson, programme co-ordinator of the Master of Science in Industrial Engineering and Management programme.

Strategic partnership

Umeå University has signed a strategic partnership agreement with the Volvo Group Trucks Operations in Umeå, which is one of northern Sweden’s largest manufacturing industries with around 1,500 employees. The cab plant is one of the most modern manufacturing plants, and acts as an introductory plant for new technologies and materials in stamping, body in white and surface treatment. The agreement is an intensified and strengthened collaboration between the parties within the fields of research, education and innovation.

About the project:

The research project FIQA, Finish Inspection and Quality Analysis, is a three-year project starting in January 2016.  The work is carried out with support from Vinnova’s Strategic Vehicle Research and Innovation (FFI). Vinnova, whose objective is to develop Sweden’s innovation capacity for sustainable growth and benefiting society, is funding the project with SEK 7.235 million. AB Volvo will contribute with 47 per cent and Volvo Cars with 3 per cent of the total amount of SEK 14.5 million.

For more information, please contact:

Patrik Rydén, Department of Mathematics and Mathematical Statistics
Phone: +46 70-482 35 55
Email: patrik.ryden@umu.se

Jun Yu, Department of Mathematics and Mathematical Statistics
Phone: +46 70-249 08 22
Email: jun.yu@umu.se

Shafiq ur Réhman, Department of Applied Physics and Electronics
Phone: +46 90-786 93 73
Email: shafiq.ur.rehman@umu.se
 

Portrait photos for download

Caption: from the left: Patrik Rydén, Jun Yu and Shafiq ur Réhman. Credit: Ulrika Bergfors Kriström

Editor: Anna Lawrence

Link to news:
http://www.teknat.umu.se/english/news//.cid260664