Minister for Business, Enterprise, and Innovation Heather Humphreys visited LIT’s Hartnett Enterprise Acceleration Centre for the announcement of a new innovative partnership between Limerick Institute of Technology and medical device companies Cook Medical and VistaMed.

The partnership, entitled the INCASE project, will allow the third level institute work with the two companies to develop their assembly process in line with the fourth industrial evolution.

Supported by Enterprise Ireland, the objective of the project is to translate the true ethos of Industry 4.0 into a working manufacturing quality improvement tool.

Vice President for Research Development and Innovation LIT Dr Liam Brown said, “We are delighted to work with Cook Medical and VistaMed on the INCASE project. Relationships between research, development, education and industry are key to the continuous industrial and economical development of the Mid West Region.

“We believe that by supporting local industry through research and development, as well as educating our students to reach their full potential while meeting the requirements of local industry, we are playing an important role as an economic generator at the heart of Ireland’s fastest-growing regional economy.”

“Here at LIT we also pride ourselves at being able to react to the needs of industry in an innovative and timely manner. We are therefore looking forward to working very closely with Cook Medical and VistaMed,” he said.

The aim of the joint project between LIT, Cook Medical and VistaMed, is to identify the best way to use combinatory technologies to reduce defective products, while simultaneously increasing capacity to manufacture new medical device products.

The system will incorporate Industry 4.0-enabling technologies with a strong focus on flexibility, adaptability and immersion, breaking the confinement of traditional concepts of workstations and screen-based activities

John Neilan, Director of New Ventures, Cook Medical said, “Cook Medical is a family-owned international medical device company that works with physicians to develop devices that are less invasive for patients. We pride ourselves on being at the cutting edge of industry and technology, while ensuring all our products are both patient centred and safe. Our partnership with LIT will assist in maintaining these high standards, while increasing our productivity.”

“Our assembly operations are performed exclusively by people, with some auxiliary tools. We believe our work with LIT will deliver operator success by eliminating the opportunity for errors, thereby achieving reliability improvements and cost reduction.” he said.

David Murray, Senior Research Engineer, Cook Ireland added, “This new system once fully developed will work in partnership with the operator, by providing oversight and assistance on any task that needs to be performed.”

VistaMed Founder and Director Paddy Mulholland said, “VistaMed is a leading provider of complex, finished catheters and devices to the minimally invasive medical device industry. We have an unrelenting commitment to supplying defect free products on time – every time.

“Our work with LIT through the INCASE partnership will not only help us copper fasten our commitment to quality, but will give us a competitive edge as the new cost-effective system will allow for increased production and reliability through manufacturing excellence,” he added.

LIT Project PI Dr Daragh Naughton said, “Industry 4.0 is commonly referred to as the fourth industrial revolution, because a number of state of the art technologies that have evolved significantly over the last number of years are radically changing the way global manufacturing is developing. Such technologies include: cloud computing, big data and analytics, cyber physical systems and Internet of Things (IoT).

“The medical devices companies involved in this project are prime candidates for the benefits associated with such a manufacturing evolution.”

“The use of multiple cameras, powerful computer vision systems, image projections and augmented reality concepts will work together to provide immersion and synergy between operator and system, without the need for wearables or any manual input from the operator.” he added.

“Quality check and assembly inspection will become automatic and performed in real-time. The suggestions and delivery of instructions will follow the pace of the operator, and require no manual feedback or input.”

Minister Humphreys welcomed this latest working partnership between a research institute and industry.

“I am delighted to launch this Innovation Partnership between the Limerick Institute of Technology and these two cutting-edge medical devices companies. The medical technologies industry has been a major success story in Ireland but innovation is crucial to its continued success.” she said.

“I am particularly pleased to see an FDI company and an indigenous company working together with a research institution to the benefit of all. This is exactly the kind of R&D collaboration that the Government is setting out to support through this Enterprise Ireland programme, and I am confident that this partnership project will ensure better outcomes for everyone involved.”

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