Smart monitoring systems

Intelligent and sensitive sensors add to the efficiency of machines and vehicles. With this research programme, we can assist companies in making technological progress in the development of advanced monitoring systems, virtual sensors and multi-sensor monitoring systems.



Electronic monitoring of production processes can be done in a more cost-efficient way by replacing two-dimensional cameras by one-dimensional sensors. However, this also generates some challenges, the more so as 1D cameras generate more data than a photodiode and these data must be processed in real time. This research project ran from June 2014 up to and including November 2016 and focussed on the development of a generic 1D image processing framework that enables real-time motion compensation as well as feature extraction, estimation and classification for different industrial applications such as wire quality inspection and road profile determination. This not only results in a lower cost, also the capability to inspect rapidly moving, continuous products is a decisive factor for the economic added value of 1D-cameras.

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Positioning systems such as motion sensors and camera systems in vehicles can offer intelligent support to drivers and are an important tool to make vehicles safer and more efficient. They can also contribute to a lower fuel consumption, better traffic distribution through an optimal route planning and precise information of mobility services about the exact location of vehicles. These systems are based on accurate position and motion determination. We executed this research project from September 2013 to March 2016 to further improve this accuracy. The technologies that have been developed, connect GPS coordinates and map information to data generated by motion sensors and camera systems. In this way, the costs of positioning systems can be lowered.

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Technology that makes use of virtual (power) sensors is very helpful when developing prototypes for machines and vehicles. It allows to reveal differences between the virtual and actual design at an earlier stage. This results in a faster, more reliable and better performing design with smaller safety margins and lower production costs. Within the scope of this research, which runs from February 2016 to February 2020, Flanders Make aims to further refine this virtual sensor technology and prepare it for industrial applications. The biggest challenge of this project is making dynamic data such as force, torque and voltage measurable. To this purpose, it is very important to generate an accurate model, select suited tools and find the exact correlation between model and measurements and to implement the technology into an embedded system.



The market still hasn’t found an efficient and reliable solution for detecting faults in bearings and gears although such early detection would increase quality, reduce costs and generate considerable time savings. That is why this project focuses on the development of intelligent algorithms for low-budget vibro-acoustic sensors. These should not only be able to assess technical restrictions but must also be adaptable to different industrial applications. Our research into permanent vibration monitoring using an integrated system started in October 2015 and will continue up to September 2017.



Drivers of industrial vehicles are often exposed to a high dose of vibrations. These may be experienced as uncomfortable and in the long run even have negative consequences for one’s physical health. The vibrations can be partly explained by the wear and tear in the clutch of a transmission system. Also changing conditions may have an adverse effect on gearshift quality and the level of vibrations. Together with its project partners, Flanders Make has developed a monitoring system for mapping the comfort experience. The project is part of a European study focussing on the development of wireless technologies for a wide range of applications. Using vibrations and signal processing, the system gives an indication of the relative changes in the quality of the gearshift control system and the level of comfort. The long-term purpose is to integrate this monitoring system in the automatic transmission control system and to use the input to optimise gearshift quality.

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To be able to efficiently control a fully or semi-automated vehicle, one must know at all times the exact position of this vehicle (tracing) and, on the other hand, also be able to determine its relative position compared to other objects within the space (for correct navigation). Companies need localisation technology that also works in environments with poor GPS reception. Current solutions are not accurate enough and are limited in terms of the number of vehicles that can be followed at the same time.

In this research project, which runs from 1 November 2016 up to 31 October 2018, several existing technologies are merged into a new, self-calibrating system that should provide accurate information faster and is at the same time robust in use, even in difficult circumstances (for instance with restricted visibility caused by dust). The corresponding software must make it easier to compare the different aspects at an early stage of the development process in view of optimising one’s own system design.