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SHARK is a project aimed at increasing the industrial uptake of laser functional texturing. They needed the help of Atlas to achieve their goal to reduce the complexity and unknowns of the process by developing a digitised knowledge management system platform and an advanced end-user interface.

The project had support from major industrial players as well as funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Framework Program.

With multiple research partners including Fraunhofer IWS, Heriot Watt University and the Manufacturing Technology Centre, Atlas needed to be able to provide a unified system that could be accessed globally and provide airtight security.

End Users

Technology Providers

  • Atlas as ATS Global
  • Georg Fischer (GF)
  • Sensofar Technology
  • Simtec

Research organisations

  • Fraunhofer IWS
  • Heriot Watt University
  • Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC)

Timeframe

  • October 2017 to October 2020

Location

  • Manufacturing Technology Centre, Coventry, UK

For anyone unfamiliar in the more niche elements of precision engineering, laser functional texturing is a term that might draw blank faces. With that in mind, the SHARK project’s aim of reducing complexity and increasing uptake is not just logical, but necessary.

In the simplest terms possible, the technique uses lasers to imbue specific characteristics onto the surfaces of materials. It can make functional surfaces hydrophobic, antibacterial, or adhesive among a great many other things. This is revolutionary technology that could benefit industries from aerospace through to healthcare and beyond.

As with all cutting edge technologies, one of the key barriers to entry is the complexity of the technology itself and the limited knowledge base available to those outside of the people developing it.

Future solutions for modern problems

Atlas software enables multi-partner involvement

Atlas’ goal is to approach modern problems with future solutions. One of the foundational elements of Atlas software is that it is accessible, it opens up roads to collaboration and it helps to break down complex processes that can be mapped, shared, improved on and adapted.

The SHARK project needed Atlas to enable data management across multiple partners and suppliers in a secure environment. By creating separate, secure, integrated and replicated processes, Atlas software could allow disparate parties to create, copy, and build upon the laser texturing processes, adding special functionalities for their products to fit their needs.

Multi-tenant functionality

Multi-tenant software functionality with industry leading security

One of the key benefits of using software as a service (SaaS) solutions such as Atlas is multi-tenant functionality. Originally software was designed with a single tenant focus, meaning one user, with access to a single repository of data and a single set of functions. By providing multi-tenant functionality, Atlas software allows varied users to utilise a single platform with access to an ever growing data lake.

By backing up this multi-tenant ability with airtight security considerations, Atlas can deliver data segregation through user tenancies. Atlas software can collect and combine massive amounts of data and make it usable by specific users, without fear of data loss or leakage.

Interact seamlessly with third party software

Providing uninhibited interactivity

Atlas is designed from the ground up to interact seamlessly with third party software. By enabling users to produce process models which can be adapted to fit software and systems of a wide variety, core functionality can be shared with and applied to different manufacturing setups within the same software.

The diverse nature of laser surface texturing means that each user utilising the technique could be using different sets of third party software to achieve similar, but not identical outputs. Atlas adapts itself to each approach, keeping core processes that are proven to be effective intact, and allowing a variety of end users to plug in their own software, hardware and designs, making the technique vastly more accessible to a wider range of users.

Removed complexity and increased industry uptake

The Outcome

With Atlas integration SHARK is able to achieve its goals of removing complexity and increasing industry uptake. Initial setup isn’t based on a bespoke plan for each end user but rather the adaptation of a working model. Upfront costs, development time, training and implementation are all stripped back, allowing a previously hard to access technology to be put to outstanding use in a whole range of different ways.

With data segregation based on user tenancies, Atlas removes massively impactful infrastructure costs. Cloud based data storage with segregation and concrete security means that data handling and server costs are eased. With the responsibility of maintaining data integrity and accessibility being handled by the experts at Atlas, the SHARK project can have a much farther reaching impact than it would otherwise have at a significantly reduced cost.

The project was such a success that Atlas was recognised as a Key Innovator by the European Commission’s Innovation Radar.

Benefits

  • Delivery of surface functionalities to real products for less than 10% the cost of the conventional part
  • More than 20% improvement in product performance on the surface functionalities deployed
  • Faster product development
  • Strengthened global position for European manufacturing