In a new series of articles, we present the 7 essential areas of transformation that play a role in the 'Factory of the Future' process charted by Agoria and Sirris. We continue with the transformation of the Networked Factory where we focus specifically on Partnership-driven innovation.

Combining internal and external knowledge

The market environment is changing at an unprecedented speed today, partly due to the increase in innovation and disruption. This means that traditional companies increasingly have to reinvent the way they do business. In order to be successful in this complex process of change, it is vital to include the innovative power of external partners in your business operations.

In other words, it involves innovation networks that are actively used by the factory as a way of combining both internal and external knowledge to attain the position of innovation leader. We would like to illustrate this process with a recent practical example from Duracell, Thomas More University of Applied Sciences and Ometa.


The IT Factory of Thomas More University in the Kempen carries out a number of projects every year to help shape Industry 4.0. Undergraduates study ICT/electronics and applied computer science in the IT Factory. Final-year students from various disciplines -- Internet of Things, Cloud & Cyber Security, Application development and Business intelligence -- work together in mixed teams to solve a 'real live' problem.


Six projects were carried out with approximately 120 IT students this year in cooperation with the following companies (listed alphabetically): 3 IT, Dover Fueling, IMEC, Duracell/Ometa, Ordina and PCfruit. Four competing teams of 5 to 6 students work together on each assignment and the clients are allowed to develop the best ideas in a Proof of Concept (PoC).

We would like to discuss such a successful PoC from a team that has set up a Smart Notification system for Duracell together with Ometa.

This assignment came about because an operator is expected to intervene in each production process at unexpected times. This could be because a filter gets clogged or because there is an accumulation somewhere in the production process. This is often remedied by checking regularly whether everything is still normal.

The idea was to use sensors and PLCs to collect this information from the production process and send it with OPC-UA to a platform behind it. In our example this is the Ometa Framework. Here you can set triggers to send a notification via AMQP to a service bus with an 'information broker'. RabbitMQ was chosen for this project. An operator with a smartphone can first subscribe to one or more channels and then get this information pushed to his Smart device. As soon as the incident is resolved, the operator can untick the notification as resolved and the system behind it will remove the notification from the queue to let everyone know that the problem has been solved.

To learn more about the technical implementation of this Proof of Concept for Duracell please click on the link below:


Partnership driven innovation is one of the components of the Networked Factory transformation that is assessed in the FoF Scan. Do you want to know where your company stands in the transformation process for the factory of the future?
Complete the FoF Scan  questionnaire of ADMA (European ADvanced MAnufacturing Support Centre of which Agoria and Sirris are partners).

Would you like to know more about the opportunities and pitfalls when choosing a suitable partner for R&D cooperation? We will be delighted to provide you with the results of a recent survey.

An article written in collaboration with Eric Pauwels, Thomas More Kempen