Articles

Spectral Engines’ partnership with Reutlingen University – a match made in spectral sensor heaven

Published 14.11.2017

Spectral Engines has been partnering with companies, innovators and scientists with great success during our short but already world changing history. We have been strengthening our existence and collaboration in Germany with both industrial and research partners already for several years. Germany is well-known for companies and leading-edge research organizations in the field of sensors and IoT-manufacturing concepts, and it has been a natural choice for Spectral Engines to look for partnerships in these topics particularly in Germany. The world of opportunities brought forward by IoT-solutions and sensing technologies is forever growing and going forward, as they play a key role in enabling the development of industrial processes.

An ongoing partnership with Reutlingen University brings great benefits for both parties

One of the major partnerships is with Reutlingen University, one of Germany’s leading universities well known for its academic programs and close ties to industry and commerce. For its partners, the university is an effective and visible contact for applied research and development. Spectral Engines is continuing its partnership with Reutlingen with great joy, as the university has evaluated Spectral Engines’ technology to be both cost effective and high-performing. One of the main reasons why Spectral Engines has chosen Reutlingen University and the PAT centre as their research hub in Germany is Reutlingen’s position as a centre of excellence for process analytical technologies (PAT) and their industrial application.

Professor Karsten Rebner from Reutlingen University describes the research done at Reutlingen as focused on industry-driven, application-oriented research for knowledge-based manufacturing and smart product design. “Together with partners from the industry, we develop tailor-made solutions that help to make technical processes and products more efficient and sustainable. Our research focus ranges from synthesis, development and scale-up of smart and advanced polymer materials, the process analysis with optical spectroscopy, spectral imaging for on-line application to multivariate data analysis and statistical process control. We see fundamental changes happening in our industry and optical technologies are becoming increasingly important in industrial manufacturing for fast, gentle product characterization”, Professor Rebner says.

According to Dominik Rabus, the German Sales Director of Spectral Engines’, business is growing steadily and sustainably in Germany. “We have been very successful in starting collaborations not only with leading-edge industrial players but also with several small and medium sized organizations, who are currently in the industrial prototype-testing phase with our NIRONE sensors integrated into their future products. This is really exciting, as these companies are truly relying on our technology as the ‘heart’ of their future product”, Rabus says. The research done at Reutlingen is greatly beneficial for Spectral Engines in this way as well. “Our current and future customers do not necessarily have the expertise and the capability to develop a so-called design-of-experiment (DoE) to implement our NIRONE sensors into their product. Here, Reutlingen University is already bridging the gap, so that our customers can obtain first measurements and feasibility studies with our NIRONE sensors including the comparison with bench top gold standard spectrometers in the lab”, Dominik Rabus reflects.

According to Professor Rebner, Spectral Engines sensors provide real savings in terms of design time and component cost and most importantly, are breaking through long-standing barriers for their projects. “The greatest progress in innovation is occurring where Spectral Engines MEMS technologies overlap with our smart data management. Increasingly, we develop highly integrated smart sensors which perform logic functions, rely on two-way communications, adjust for changes in their environment and make decisions. The sensors help us provide implementation and communication, and with the sensors we are able to measure multiple variables in different wavelengths simultaneously with greater flexibility and ease of implementation,” says Rebner.

The future of smart sensors is looking ever brighter

Reutlingen University is confident that Spectral Engines’ technologies will offer peak performance and develop the research done at Reutlingen in the future as well. “Smart sensors will continue to shrink in size and grow in importance as they perform an increasing number of functions and do it better than ever before. At this point, Spectral Engines is already here today and gives our partner an insight into the future of spectral sensors. Spectral Engines’ sensors offer a great flexibility and easy ways of implementation for several process applications. Modern microelectronics and MEMS technologies from Spectral Engines are rapidly developing and introducing new possibilities for integration of smart sensors elements”, states Professor Rebner.

The significance of material measuring will be growing rapidly in the future, as new automation solutions are needed in enhancing and optimizing production processes, and have a major role for example in the fight against pollution. Germany is the leading country worldwide in developing Smart Factory and Smart Industry concepts, that are also at the core of Spectral Engines’ know-how. In partnership with Reutlingen University, Spectral Engines will stay at the front row of smart technology suppliers and developers.

“The ability to introduce the ‘smart’ factor into spectral sensors will continue to drive their application in industry 4.0 and process control applications. Industry 4.0 stands to gain from the design of low-power micro-sensors, embedded processors with a suitable multivariate data analysis that monitor a broad range of parameters on the factory floor to maintain production”, envisions Professor Rebner. Dominik Rabus from Spectral Engines is on the same page with professor Rebner: “We have now the possibility to measure at principally all relevant process locations in an industrial environment and have the data management infrastructure in place to analyse all of these sensors in real time. This gives us the opportunity to totally understand the production process in a so far never obtained ‘resolution’ and thus we are able to adjust production parameters to safe time, cost and valuable material resources.”

Spectral Engines will take part in the 13. Colloquium Process Analysis: Process Management in Modern Production event. Read more here.