The Digital Revolution - in focus for Wingquist Laboratory

IT Professor Bo Dahlbom from the University of Gothenburg painted a bright and exciting picture of the future at this year’s highly anticipated Wingquist seminar. The seminar is unique in Sweden and attracted a large audience this year. Researchers and industry representatives gathered to hear about the latest research findings in the field of virtual product realization – and to be inspired by Dahlbom’s keynote speech about the digital revolution. ​​

Many had waited for this year’s Wingquist seminar, and there was a huge demand for places, with a long waiting list and a completely full auditorium.

Take a look at all the pictures from the seminar here!​

This year the seminar coincided with the presentation of the Government’s new research bill. Perhaps it was in the background when IT Professor Bo Dahlbom from the University of Gothenburg took to the stage as the first speaker.

Dahlbom said that in around 1900 Sweden was the poorest country in Europe, but just a few decades later it had become one of the richest countries in the world – thanks to the industrial revolution. Today we have leisure activities, major cities and transport options that were unimaginable just over 100 years ago.

Drones, chips and Siri in the digital revolution

Dahlbom believes that we are now in the digital revolution. Can we dream about the possibilities of the future now? Will they include autonomous cars that park themselves outside of town at night? Drones that fill the sky and take care of all transport runs? Chips implanted under the skin (like a form of digital tattoo) that update us on our health? Or that all your wishes can come true at the touch of a button – or via Siri? Dahlbom says that Swedish strategies for digitalisation are currently lagging behind and are based on the past rather than the future.

Reindustrialisation of Sweden is not enough; instead we need to think in an entirely new way and Dahlbom highlights examples such as several companies with platforms where ownership of the product does not constitute the focal point – for instance, Apple, Uber and Airbnb. In Dahlbom’s opinion, in the same way that the major company Ford and the oil companies were the driving forces in the industrial revolution, today major companies such as Google, Amazon and Facebook are creating the global playing field. How do Swedish companies such as Atlas Copco, Sandviken and Volvo fit into that development? Dahlbom urged the companies to increase their visibility and urged everyone with children to buy this year’s Christmas present: a VR headset. Today’s 10 year olds are the people who best understand the digital development and can help us progress.

How is Volvo going digital?

As a representative of R&D at the Volvo Group, Thomas Lezama immediately took on the challenge of increasing visibility and described how Volvo is working to harness the opportunities of digitalisation and realise the ideas. He described a transition from focus on production to focus on consumption, and how customers can become more involved in product innovations. Volvo wants to use electronics, computer-based systems, communications technology and sensors to create intelligent products, services, production systems and business solutions. As a basis he mentioned nine different technologies and enablers: cloud services, Big Data, simulations, the Internet of Things, cybersecurity, system integration, augmented reality, 3D printing and autonomous robots.

Lezama also specifically raised the subject of additive manufacturing as an area in which Volvo has now already been able to make major savings. As an example he showed the audience a manifold that previously consisted of several components joined together, but that can now be printed as one single component.

Platforms, visual control and automatic evaluation

The platform approach that Bo Dahlbom talked about fits in well with the focus of The platform approach that Bo Dahlbom talked about fits in well with the focus of the research team System Engineering & PLM. Professor Hans Johannesson and doctoral students presented new methods and tools for describing and efficiently reusing information from product and production platforms.

Amer Catic spoke about knowledge recycling by scaling down the volume of information to simple checklists and making it easily accessible to new engineers. He also presented a new book that he has written together with Dag Bergsjö and Daniel Stenholm​. The book explains how information technology can provide better support and visual control.

Christoffer Levandowski and Jonas Landahl showed examples from the aviation industry and a method for automatically being able to evaluate whether a product proposal can be manufactured or not. Timo Kero from Volvo GTT gave a demonstration of software called CCM (Configurable Component Modeller), which manages object-oriented system platforms and makes it easy at an early stage in product development to set up a model for the product characteristics that interact with and affect each other and those that do not.

Energy-efficient automation and the tweeting factory

Professor Bengt Lennartson, the head of the research team, presented a recently completed EU project, in which the results showed a decrease of up to 30% in energy consumption in robots and a 70% reduction in peak consumption. Professor Martin Fabian demonstrated a new model for specifying, optimising and checking a production system. Kristofer Bengtsson and Martin Dahl described how best to plan and follow up robot movements using the open source software, Sequence Planner. Gentle robot movements use less energy than rapid ones. Bengtsson has also been the driving force in the project concerning the tweeting factory, in which short simple text messages are sent from transmitters throughout the factory – and are processed in a system that can transform and refine the information. Bengtsson finished by demonstrating how cloud services can be used to optimise robot movements.

Virtual matching and combination problems

It was subsequently time for the Director of the centre, Professor Rikard Söderberg to present his own research team, Geometry Assurance & Robust Design. The team has developed the software, RD&T, which can be used to perform statistical simulation of how much a product varies in shape and size, for example. The software can also show the degree of stability of a combination of several components and its sensitivity to variation. Soner Camuz demonstrated an example from industry partner Sandvik Coromant, which develops cutting tools. Precision is of utmost importance for a tool, and working with tolerances results in major improvements.

Anders Forslund, who has recently publicly defended his doctoral thesis, reported on results from the aviation industry. In order to reduce fuel consumption, the aircraft needs to reduce its weight, which is why the ambition is to be able to weld components together to create a product that was previously cast in one piece. That entails a combination problem. In what sequence must you select parts to weld them together for the best result? Eleven parts produce more than three million different combinations. Forslund presented how he has succeeded in simulating the best sequence. Julia Madrid researches within the same area and presented a generic model for quality assurance of welded structures in an aircraft engine. Her research shows that the shape of the individual component and the thickness and flatness of the welding material all determine how small the gap will be between the parts and whether they vary in height or parallelism.


Björn Lindau presented ground-breaking research on virtual matching - a solution where he uses statistical methods to find the perfect match between metal parts in e.g. a car body.


Björn Lindau completed the session by presenting ground-breaking research on an automatic way of performing virtual matching of vehicle body parts. In the automotive industry, experimentation previously took place using physical test series to find the best way to assemble vehicle bodies. That method requires very considerable resources and does not closely resemble how body assembly actually takes place. Lindau showed how a virtual solution using statistical methods can do this automatically and with heightened precision instead. Virtual matching results in major savings in the form of time, money and material consumption.

Collision-free motions and a virtual oven

The final research team of the day was Geometry & Motion Planning led by Dr Johan Carlson from the Frauhofer-Chalmers Centre. This team uses mathematical tools and algorithms to produce efficient and collision-free movements for operators and robots in manufacturing industries. Jonas Kressin gave a live demonstration during the seminar, in which the IPS software performed automatic, collision-free track planning for a welding station with four robots. Daniel Gleeson then took over the demonstration and showed examples of how the robot movements can be optimised to save as much time as possible. In the next presentation Domenico Spensieri showed how when you build or remodel a factory you can place the robots in such a way that results in the shortest possible cycle time. Niclas Delfs demonstrated Imma, the virtual human in the factory, who now cannot only move in a stable, collision-free and balanced way, but can also calculate movements that result in the least musculoskeletal strain.

Fredrik Edelvik ended this section by describing his objective to move the entire paint shop into a computer. Surface treatment is the process in an automotive factory that uses the most energy, chemicals and water, while also producing the most waste. Previously the painting process itself was in focus, but Edelvik now demonstrated the virtual oven. Heat is used to dry the paint, but it also has a major impact on the size and shape of a product. It is therefore very important to be able to simulate what happens in the oven. “We have now addressed the painting and the oven. The next step is the ED coating process, and then we’ll take it step by step until we manage to simulate the entire factory,” said Edelvik.

Smart Assembly 4.0

The day concluded with Professor Rikard Söderberg Director of the centre, returning to the stage to talk about a prestigious project that the centre has been assigned responsibility for: Smart Assembly 4.0. The ambition in the project is very high. The objective is to realise the idea of an autonomous, self-optimising and robotised assembly factory.
Professor Rikard Söderberg Director of the centre, presents a prestigious project that the centre has been assigned responsibility for: Smart Assembly 4.0.​



Did you miss the link to the pictures before? Here it is again!​



Text: Nina Silow

Photo: Chalmers Film- & Fotocommitté​ (CFFC)​​​

Published: Wed 07 Dec 2016. Modified: Thu 14 Sep 2017