Cooperation between Voortman and educational institutions

Cooperation between Voortman and educational institutions

“In order to develop and introduce new technologies faster, Voortman Steel Machinery enters into intensive collaborations with educational institutions,” says Project Manager Stefano Ganassin. “One of these collaborations is Fieldlab TValley. TValley is links SME companies with knowledge institutions like Hogeschool Saxion. Together we do application-oriented research on issues from companies in the field of mechatronics. Examples of issues are robotization, AGV-vehicles or computer vision systems. The strength of TValley is that multiple companies are linked to an issue and jointly work together to develop a solution.”

Project DiVision

The first TValley project DiVision started in 2017. “In it, we were looking for a way to solve a manual process with an Industry 4.0 approach. To improve our position in the steel market, we are working on a vision system that controls the dimensions of plasma-cut products. The ultimate goal is to develop a vision system that automatically recognizes and locates plasma-cut sheet metal. Whereas previously the identification of products was done using barcodes, today we link machine vision systems to robotic systems, such as grippers and self-navigating platforms. In addition, machine vision systems are also often used in an industrial production process to find errors, control and analyze quality and/or speed up the production process.”

Final piece of the puzzle

For the DiVision project, Voortman and IMS from Almelo, together with a research group Mechatronics from Saxion, developed a proof-of-concept setup of the vision system. “Thanks to participation in field labs like TValley, we can get to know new technologies at an early stage. The DiVision project was the final piece of the puzzle for us to provide the fully automated beam assembly and welding system with automatic feeding and recognition of plates. With this, we can now run the machine completely autonomously.”

Enthusiastic students

According to Ganassin, the successful participation has led to several new applications that Voortman will continue to develop into a proof-of-concept in the coming period. “In addition, through the fieldlab we come into contact with students, who through this collaboration we make enthusiastic about the technology and the machines that we devise at Voortman and produce in-house.”


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