Francesc Sabaté, Roger Uceda and Felip Fenollosa are the academic directors of the master’s degrees in manufacturing and technological development for industry promoted by the CIM-UPC. These programs have been designed to train the digital profiles that industry will demand in the coming years, thanks to the privileged experience in research and innovation of this technology center and its direct contact with the needs of the company. In this interview we learn more about these training proposals in the areas of engineering and product design, production, additive manufacturing, digital transformation and robotics.
Industry and technology are already an inseparable binomial. How does this digital scenario affect companies? What challenges do they face in order to remain competitive?
Digitization in industry has a long history: since the 90s, under the CIM (Computer Integrated Manufacturing) concept, companies have assumed that many gains in competitiveness come from integrating digital tools into the process of developing new products and, of course, in the production process. The most leading organizations are currently those that have been making more efforts in this line, and now this path is progressing with all the power that the tools of the new paradigm of Industry 4.0 Digitalization goes to the extreme and suddenly we find ourselves not only with an optimization of an activity (better CAD design, production data management in the cloud…), but new business models that can turn the business counter upside down: IoT sensors that allow remote monitoring of equipment, changing a sales model for one of servitization, or the customized materialization of products with additive manufacturing, thus accessing market niches for which it was not competitive before… In short, we are not talking about updating challenges, which also, but of a possible total reformulation of the rules of the game.
Professionals in the industrial sector will also have to adapt quickly. What skills will they need to develop?
Our experience as professionals who support technology transfer has allowed us to detect both the needs of companies to maintain their competitiveness and the fact that they do not have profiles prepared to meet them. In general, we are very concerned about the development of transversal competencies such as teamwork, which is reflected in the way we develop our training programs. We also pay a lot of attention to skills linked to preparing business models, presenting value propositions or justifying investments in technology, given that the roles demanded by companies are those of people who can play a role as successful implementers of both technology and business and its exploitation. And the most technological skills, those that allow mastering the new digital language in which the new industrial reality has to move, are provided throughout all the itineraries, always in the form of assimilation through practice.
The CIM UPC celebrates 30 years leading research, technology transfer and training in digitization of industry. What projects are currently being developed and are the future challenges in the coming years?
The vast majority of the projects we are currently carrying out revolve around Industry 4.0 and cover a very broad spectrum. From large consortium projects such as the “Looming Factory” project, which aims to transform the production model so that machines and workers work in an integrated and connected way, to the “Base 3D” project that aims to promote research, technological development and innovation in 3D printing, through countless projects of a smaller dimension, but equally transformative with SMEs and startups, which see in the CIM UPC the best strategic technology partner with whom to ally.
How has all this knowledge been integrated into the masters and postgraduate programs?
We integrate it in a very natural way. We have been teaching some of our masters for more than 25 years and each year they evolve based on 3 main axes: the vision that we directors have from our participation in industrial projects, the feedback we get from the participants and the companies they come from, as well as the suggestions of the different professors, many of them industry professionals, that we have in the team.
From the CIM Center we believe that we have to lead by example, so that continuous improvement, the main strategy of the lean manufacturing philosophy, is the best tool we have to have innovative and updated programs.
Apart from that, the directors do technology watch work, so that in the last 5 years we have launched two new master’s programs closely related to Industry 4. 0.
What is the training offer for this academic year?
We currently have 6 master’s programs, which cover the needs of any industrial profile within the areas of product design, process engineering, automation, digital transformation and production management. Specifically we are talking about the following programs:
Master’s Degree in Product and Manufacturing Process Engineering (CIME)
Master in Design and Engineering for Product Development (DEDP)
Master in Design and Engineering for Additive Manufacturing (DEFAM)
Master in Automated Production and Robotics (PAIR)
Master’s Degree in Digital Transformation in Industry (MTDI)
Master’s Degree in Production Management (MDP)
As academic directors, you combine your teaching and research activity with a long experience in the industrial sector. Is this a pattern that is repeated in the rest of the teaching team?
Certainly, this pattern is not the predominant one in our master’s programs. Generally, the faculty is made up of professionals who work in leading companies and who are specialists in the subject they teach.
This expertise, together with their willingness to share their knowledge and experience, makes them the best candidates to participate in our programs.
Our job as directors is to align the different subjects in order to achieve the specific objectives of each master’s degree, ensuring that the pedagogical model has the unity and excellence that are our hallmarks.
What is the learning methodology of these programs? can you give us some concrete examples?
The methodology we use is eminently practical. The best way to learn is by doing, and our job as directors is to propose a series of challenges in the form of cases that must be solved based on the technical and transversal competencies that we work on in the different masters and postgraduate programs.
We have very interesting examples, such as the 3D design of a luminaire for an internationally renowned company, which had to be 3D printed, or the connectivity of the machining centers of our pilot plant, applying machine learning algorithms to foresee possible failures in real time.
At the CIM UPC we are always committed to propose real challenges to our students, which make them leave the comfort zone of a classroom, and we can do this thanks to our close contact with the industrial fabric. In all the masters we work with the case method, participants must work as an engineer and seek the technological and economic feasibility of the real challenge that each director presents at the beginning of the master. Throughout the course, in each subject, the contents and technological knowledge are given, which, transferred to the case, allow finding the best solution, which must be defended before a court and the rest of the participants of the course.
What kind of equipment can we find in the CIM UPC facilities and how is it used for simulations and practices?
The CIM UPC is not a training center, but a technology center that transfers knowledge through participation in collaborative projects with companies and through the different training programs we offer.
Thus, these programs are the consequence of our day-to-day work and the equipment we use spends much of its time working on these real projects with companies and other research centers.
This way of working allows us to always have the latest technology available for use in our training programs.
In our Pilot Plant we have several robots, either industrial robots from ABB or collaborative robots from Universal Robots. We also have 3 and 5 axis machining centers Haas and Deckel Maho, plastic injection machines, laser scanning equipment and 3D printers from Ricoh, 3D Systems and BCN3D. In terms of production environments, we have programming panels with PLC/PAC Schneider, SIEMENS, Rockwell Automation; regulation and control centers with VEGA, Endress Hauser, Bürkert instrumentation, connected to SCADA/MES Wonderware/AVEVA and Ignition systems; and a LoRa gateway in the IIoT field.
In total, equipment worth more than 3 million euros is available for the different programs that we teach at the CIM UPC. If you want to know them, you know where to find us!
Source: F. Sabaté, R. Uceda and F. Fenollosa: “We challenge the students to look for the technological and economic feasibility of real industrial cases”.