TARGET enhances the capacity of manufacturing companies to innovate and embrace new technologies

The project entitled TARGET is funded under the EU Northern Periphery and Arctic Programme (NPA). The partners are universities and other education/innovation providers across the NPA region. The structure of the project is to strengthen the capacity of the manufacturing sector, including the adoption of new innovative technologies, processes and practices, to build competitive advantage. The project will develop a toolbox of supports, which, through the introduction of new technologies, knowledge and skills, will help to position manufacturing companies in the region as world leaders in their sectors.

Representatives from the partner organisations came together two weeks ago at the Tromsø campus of UiT-The Arctic University of Norway to discuss progress in the implementation of the project and to agree tasks and priorities going forward. The event brought together delegates from UiT-The Arctic University of Norway; Luleå University of Technology (Sweden); Centria University of Applied Sciences (Finland); South West College, Cavan Innovation and Technology Centre and Cavan and Sligo Local Enterprise Offices (Ireland).

The meeting discussed, inter alia, the challenges faced by manufacturing companies in the region, the range of skill sets of the partners, the most appropriate mechanisms and approaches to be used in the transfer of knowledge and expertise, and the form and structure of engagements with the companies selected to participate.

Edel McCusker, the programme co-ordinator at South West College, explained that “the aim of this project is to develop the tools to allow manufacturing companies in the NPA Region to adapt and embrace the next generation of technology and innovation”.  She described how “each of the partner organisations have specialist skill sets focused on ensuring that the local and regional manufacturing base will be globally competitive and innovative through the utilisation of the advanced technology and digital manufacturing techniques available through the partnership”.

John Moore, the Deputy Head of Technology at South West College, told the delegates how “the key to the next generation of manufacturing in the NPA regions is the targeted application of innovation and the embracing of new processes and practices such as design, product development, prototyping, automation, electronics, data communication, ICT and quality management”. Mr. Moore went on to explain how “this then needs to be aligned with key market analysis skills such as trending, testing and integrating products into a whole cycle of service delivery so as to build the competitive advantage and value proposition of manufacturing firms.  The key is to converge all of these technologies to produce an integrated, automated and highly efficient manufacturing environment. Simply stated, this is how we aim to put the knowledge economy into manufacturing”.

Jouni Vähäsöyrinki, the project manager of TARGET at Centria University of Applied Sciences, Finland, introduced Centria’s vision, a draft of the TARGET-toolbox to the other partners, which was welcomed within the other partners. The draft concentrated especially on the tools Centria will provide for the companies with needs and interest on digital manufacturing. The rapidly evolving set of tools is divided in five categories: (1) product automation, (2) robotics, (3) digital scanning and measuring, (4) additive manufacturing and (5) manufacturing design and product simulation. Vähäsöyrinki also presented a detailed example of a case: a feasibility study of robotic welding. This example was to visualize the flow of the process of the study. In Tromsø it was discussed, that this kind of well-detailed study probably cannot be executed within the TARGET project, but it can be implemented within the finished toolbox.

Heidi Kaartinen, the project co-ordinator at Centria University of Applied Sciences, Finland, introduced briefly all the participating companies in Finland as well as their needs on the TARGET-project. The companies represent various types of manufacturing industries from agricultural machinery manufacturer to spring water manufacturer and an aluminium welding company. These companies are typical for the NPA-area and face the regional difficulties on the competition. On the contrary, they benefit from the expertise evolved from the regional circumstances.

Companies interested in participating in the project in Finland should contact the Finnish project manager at Centria University of Applied Sciences, Jouni Vähäsöyrinki (

Representatives of the partnering organisations. Standing (L-R): Gabor Sziebig (UiT-The Arctic University of Norway); Edel McCusker (SWC); Johan Wenngren (Luleå Technical University, Sweden); Johan Holmqvist (Luleå Technical University, Sweden); Jouni Vähäsöyrinki (Centria University of Applied Sciences, Finland); Heidi Kaartinen (Centria University of Applied Sciences, Finland); Anne Loughran (South West College, Northern Ireland); Åsa Ericson (Luleå Technical University, Sweden); John Moore (SWC); Wei Deng Solvang (UiT-The Arctic University of Norway);Vincent Reynolds (Cavan Local Enterprise Office, Ireland); Lasse Jansson (Centria University of Applied Sciences, Finland). On the front: Hao Yu (UiT-The Arctic University of Norway)

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