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Modularity: INEGI contributes to flexible processes and products in shipbuilding

07 October 2021

Today's market and consumers have increasingly volatile needs, which poses a major challenge for the industry. It requires a greater number of product variations, and greater speed in development and production processes. In this context, modularity proves to be a successful bet in many sectors.

Recognizing this opportunity, the company Vanguard Marine turned to INEGI's specialized support to make its products and processes more flexible. In response to a market that requires a high degree of customization, the nautical vessel manufacturer aims to create a semi-rigid vessel with a modular and reconfigurable architecture.

"The idea of ​​modularity is based on the rationalization of the production process”, says Cláudio Santos, responsible for the industrial management component of the project. "Common modules are used in different versions of the product, with various types, resulting in a reduction in lead time and greater efficiency in production”.

All of this translates into wider product catalogs, and the ability to get products to market faster, without a significant increase in production costs.

Changing the entire production logic of a factory, however, is not an easy task. To help, INEGI is developing a methodology that will support the modularization project. "We want to systematize the design of these future vessels, in order to guarantee the optimization of the benefits of the design of modular products”, explains Cláudio Santos. "With this methodology, through the creation and selection of concepts and cross-analysis and clustering tools, it will be easier to identify compatible modules between different variants of the same product”.

The project also includes the development of the prototype of this multifunctional vessel, and INEGI’s team is in charge of developing a "modular interface to fix the inflatable component to the vessel's hull”, that is, the part that joins one module to another. "Here lies one of the biggest challenges that can change the way the boat's assembly process is carried out,” says Rui Mendes, responsible for the project at INEGI. "Developing a system that allows the union between the hull and the float to be made in the assembly process as late as possible and through the use of a crane, unlike what is done now, brings enormous advantages both in the assembly process and in processes maintenance futures”.

It is not the first time that INEGI applies its knowledge and skills in projects that involve concepts of modularity. Recently, the institute has contributed to the creation of FLY, a modular urban transport concept of the future as part of a mobilizing project, aiming to develop structures, components and the respective manufacturing processes in composite materials.

The strategy, which originated in the automotive sector, is gaining ground in the industry. In the robotic equipment sector, companies are also investing on this concept to add value to their operation. JPM Industry, for example, joined forces with INEGI and INESC TEC in 2019 on a project that resulted in a modular and adaptive gripper for palletizing and packaging.

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