Students are constantly improving Smart Factory

Technologies Added in Emmen has recently gained fame as the best example of a smart factory, of industry 4.0. The start-up is shaking up the manufacturing industry through its better, more flexible mode of production. And students play a major role in this endeavour.

Bas Brinkers (links) and Thomas Kooi of Technologies Added. (Photos: Pepijn van den Broeke)

You can’t ignore it, in the production hall of what was once the Philips Factory in Emmen. Located here in recent years is the smart factory Technologies Added. Students are just as at home here as the employees. Walking around, working on their theory in the specially equipped sea containers in the hall, talking to everyone, and often directly influencing the way products are made.

Smart production
“We changed the whole layout of the production line here,” says Bas Brinkers pointing to marked areas on the floor. He will soon be completing his mechanical engineering studies at the Hanze University of Applied Sciences. Thanks to the minor Smart Production, he ended up in Emmen. “Together with a group from the minor, we looked at how the production of Sustainder’s street lighting, among other things, could be made more efficient.” He did it. Using smart solutions, he reduced the production time per fitting by more than forty percent.

A success which is not a fluke. Technologies Added is constantly inviting students to think along, to improve, to look with a fresh perspective. Thomas Kooi is team leader of Operations and he is also an example of this hunger for new insights. “I completed my studies here in Technical Business Administration at the Hanze University of Applied Sciences. After my internship, I was immediately offered a job and now I am slowly but surely putting into practice what I saw before me in theory.”

Technologies Added, de productielijn virtueel in beeld op scherm.

‘Just try it’
Graduates, interns and researchers from the Hanze University of Applied Sciences, the University of Groningen, the NHL Stenden University of Applied Sciences and senior secondary vocational education. They’re all walking around at Technologies Added. Literally. Bas Brinkers: “We talk a lot with employees here who are really involved in production. We think we’re able to see what could be better, but they’ll have to feel that in the end. If they run into things they don’t like, we hear so immediately and we adjust it.”

According to Thomas Kooi, this cooperation is one of the biggest advantages of the way students can go about their business. “You see that our operators are also getting involved in possible improvements, that they’re starting to think along with the students here. Keep it coming! What’s nice about this company is that we can say: try it. If it doesn’t work, we’ll just switch it back.”

Young brainpower
The great thing is that Technologies Added has its own workspace, in which you can immediately create what has been thought out in theory. Bas Brinkers: “That roller conveyor, those low tables, they’re all things we made here. The nice thing is that I now see them back in the production line for the electric scooters. That’s cool for me as a student, that you immediately see the result of what you’ve come up with.”

For the start-up in Emmen, the input of young brainpower is part of the company’s philosophy. Kooi: “We are working on a new way of producing. Students are desperately needed to think about all kinds of facets of the smart factory which are not in daily production. They are also important for creating support on an operational level. We all need that to stay ahead of the game. Also important: it is very difficult to find good people. And because of the short lines of communication with the educational field, we manage to interest young people.”


Minor Smart Production

The Hanze University of Applied Sciences offers the minor in Smart Production to students of the institutes of Engineering and Business Administration. The minor is intended to broaden their education. They learn in a practical and smart way to solve bottlenecks in production processes.


Technologies Added

At the smart factory Technologies Added in Emmen, different products are made in a whole new way, from street lighting to folding trailers, from scooters to water treatment plants. This is possible thanks to the revolutionary way of working, in which the production lines are flexible and the logistic solutions ground-breaking.