Press Release: New manufacturing process developed to fabricate longer, stronger and lighter utility poles pushing the limits of composite structures.

ARM-D-COP is a project which brought together the Faculty of Engineering from the University of Malta and Silvercraft Products Ltd. Funded through the R & I FUSION Fund administered by the Malta Council for Science and Technology (MCST), the consorstium received around €200,000. The consortium developed a novel machine capable of manufacturing Glass Fiber Reinforced Plastic (GFRP) Utility poles that are longer and have a better strength to weight ratio than conventional alternatives.

During his speech, the Minister for Equality, Research and Innovation praised the researchers as well as the industrial partner Silvercraft Ltd for the work related to this project. He also thanked the MCST for the continuous support it gives to research in Malta.

“Thanks to this kind of consortia, new innovations are created, which serve not only to enhance research, but also to bring forth brand Malta,” Minister Bonnici said.

It is common practice that utility poles are manufactured in Wood, Steel or Concrete. GFRP was never a contender, until now, mainly because the manufacturing processes available were limited and confined to less than 16m in length. Glass Fibre Reinforced Composite offer an attractive alternative as they can endure larger loads, act as insulators, capable of withstanding corrosion and wear resistance and are ultimately lighter, implying less rigid foundation requirements.

ARM-D-COP has successfully designed, developed and commissioned a novel revolutionary manufacturing machine for the fabrication of GFRP tapered poles. A prototype machine was designed, developed and commissioned with the aim of optimizing and testing the concepts of this new revolutionary manufacturing method. Our streets as well as international ones will benefit from this innovation.

In his closing speech, Executive Chairman of the Malta Council for Science and Technology, Dr Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando, said that the high value-added manufacturing sector was not just another business sector but rather one which considerably impacts the broader economy and significantly influences the environment in which other business sectors operate – resulting in a multiplier effect. He said that “High value-added manufacturing is proving to be an increasingly popular business model for manufacturers, so much so that it is changing their role and scope within the value chain.” He added that: “Research and Innovation incentives, such as FUSION, enable such companies to access opportunities which change their traditional role as manufacturers and  assume the tasks of researchers, designers and service providers. The ARM-D-COP consortium successfully demonstrated that, through funding programmes such as FUSION, great ideas can be turned into practice and gaps between business and academia successfully bridged.”

Project leader Prof. Ing Duncan Camilleri said, “Thanks to research initiatives and the provision of the necessary funding by MCST an idea that has been put at the back of the shelf was brought to light, giving the local industry a competitive advantage over the international market. The revolutionary machine not only produces tapered composite poles but maximizes the structural efficiency while minimizes the cost of the end product. The versatility of the machine gives design engineers the possibility to explore and fabricate any composite pole dimensions, capable of withstanding any load configuration. The expertise, knowledge and practical understanding brought about through the collaboration of University of Malta, Faculty of Engineering and a leading SME local manufacturing company Silvercraft Products Ltd, made this project a successful endeavour. Through this project the consortium aims to tap in the international market by selling the end products to various clients and capitalize on the royalties of the new manufacturing process by further collaboration with renowned world leading composite manufacturing companies. The continuous investment in research and innovation adds up to the enhancement of the Maltese Islands GDP.”

Local and international stakeholders attended the event who followed technical presentations by the project researchers, engineers and manufacturer. A panel discussion moderated by an Esplora Science Communicator followed.

The event was streamed live on facebook and can be followed via:

https://www.facebook.com/MaltaCouncilforScienceandTechnology/videos/905182810125598



 

Proċess ġdid ta’ manifatura lokali jipproduċi arbli magħmulin mill-fibre glass sabiex ikunu itwal, eħfef u aktar b’saħħithom.

ARM-D-COP proġett li laqqa’ flimkien lill-Fakultà tal-Inġinerija tal-Università ta’ Malta u l-kumpanija Silvercraft Products Ltd. Dan il-proġett irċieva madwar €200,000 mill-Fond R & I FUSION li huwa amministrat mill-Kunsill Malti għax-Xjenza u t-Teknoloġija (MCST).  Il-konsorzju żviluppa magna ġdida li kapaċi timmanifattura arbli magħmula minn plastik rinfurzat mill-fibre tal-ħġieg magħruf bħala Glass Fiber Reinforced Plastic (GFRP) li jistgħu jifilħu aħjar għall-piż minn alternattivi konvenzjonali.

Fid-diskors tiegħu, il-Ministru għall-Ugwaljanza, r-Riċerka u l-Innovazzjoni faħħar ix-xogħol tar-riċerkaturi nvoluti f’dan il-proġett u lill-kumpanija Silvercraft. Huwa rringrazzja wkoll lill-Kunsill Malti għax-Xjenza u t-Teknoloġija għas-sostenn kontinwu li jagħtu lir-riċerka f’Malta.

“Permezz ta’ dan it-tip ta’ konsorzji, jinħolqu innovazzjonijiet ġodda li jkomplu jmexxu ‘l quddiem mhux biss ir-riċerka, iżda wkoll l-isem ta’ Malta,” qal il-Ministru Bonnici.

Normalment, l-arbli huma manifatturati mill-injam, l-azzar u l-concrete. S’issa, il-GFRP qatt ma ġie meqjus minħabba l-fatt li l-proċessi tal-manifattura kienu joħolqu ħafna limitazzjonijiet u kienu ristretti għal arbli inqas minn 16-il metru fit-tul. Il-Glass Fibre Reinforced Composite wera li huwa alternattiva attraenti għaliex jista’ jġorr piżijiet akbar, jservi bħala insulator, kapaċi jirreżisti għall-korrużjoni u r-reżistenza tal-użu u finalment huma eħfef li jfisser li ma jkunx hemm bżonn bażi għal ħtiġijiet ta’ pedimenti daqshekk riġidi.

ARM-D-COP irnexxielhom jiddisinjaw, jiżviluppaw u jikkommissjonaw magna rivoluzzjonarja għall-fabbrikazzjoni ta’ arbli tapered magħmula mill-GFRP. Il-konsorzju pproduċa prototip tal-magna li ġiet iddisinjata, żviluppata u kkummissjonata bil-għan li jiġu ttestjati u jieħdu l-aktar li jistgħu mil-kunċetti ta’ dan il-metodu rivoluzzjonarju. Din l-innovazzjoni se jkunu qed jibbenefika minnha s-suq kemm lokali kif ukoll dak internazzjonali.

Fid-diskors  tiegħu, iċ-Ċermen Eżekuttiv tal-Kunsill Malti għax-Xjenza u t-Teknoloġija, Dr Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando irrefera għall-valur miżjud għoli tas-settur tal-manifattura bħala wieħed li jagħmel impatt konsiderevoli fl-ekonomija usa’, li jinfluwenza b’mod sinjifikanti l-ambjent li fih joperaw setturi oħra tan-negozju u li jirriżulta f’multiplier effect.  Huwa qal li: “Is-settur tal-valur miżjud għoli qed juri mudell għan-negozji tal-manifattura li qed isir aktar popolari, tant li qed ibiddel ir-rwol u l-iskop tagħom fil-katina tal-valur. Kompla jgħid li “Inċentivi tar-Riċerka u l-Innovazzjoni bħal FUSION, jippermettu kumpaniji bħal dawn ikollhom aċċess għal opportunitajiet sabiex ikunu jistgħu jbiddlu r-rwol tradizzjonali tagħhom bħala manifatturi f’dak ta’ riċerkaturi, disinjaturi u li jipprovdu servizz. Il-konsorzju ARM-D-COP wera b’suċċess li permezz tal-programm FUSION ideat innovattivi jistgħu jittrasformaw ruħhom fil-prattika u li d-distakk bejn in-negozju u l-akkademja jista’ jingħeleb b’suċċess.”

Il-Mexxej tal-proġett il-Prof. Inġ Duncan Camilleri qal li, “Permezz ta’inizzjattivi u l-fondi neċessarji provduti mill-MCST, idea li kienet tħalliet fuq l-ixkaffa, ingħatat il-ħajja. Dan ta l-industrija lokali vantaġġ kompettittiv fuq dak internazzjonali. Il-magna rivoluzzjonarja mhux biss tipproduċi arbli komposti mill-fibre glass u r-reżina, iżda wkoll ħolqot prodott b’iktar effiċċjenza strutturali u bi prezz aktar vantaġġjuż fuq il-prodott finali.  Il-versatilità tal-magna tagħti l-possibiltà lill- inġiniera li jiddisinjaw u joħolqu arbli komposti mill-fibre glass u r-reżina, kif ukoll il-kapaċità li jirreżistu kull tip ta’ tagħbija konfigurata. Kienu l-għarfien, l-ispeċjalizzazjoni u l-prattiċità li wasslu għall-kollaborazzjoni bejn il-Fakultà tal-Inġinerija mill-Università ta’ Malta, u kumpanija lokali tal-manifattura, Silvercraft Products Ltd sabiex dan il-progett kien ta suċċess. Permezz ta’ dan il-proġett, il-konsorzju għandu l-għan li jidħol fis-suq internazzjonali billi jbigħ il-prodotti finali lill-klijenti diversi u jikkapitillazza minn royalites li ġab mieħgu dan il-proċess ta’ manifattura ġdida. Dan se joħloq aktar kollaborazzjonijiet ma’ kumpaniji dinjija li huma fuq ta’ quddiem fid-dinja fil-manifattura ta’ materjali komposti mill-fibre glass u r-reżina. L-investiment kontinwu fir-riċerka u l-innovazzjoni se jkompli jsaħħaħ  il-GDP tal- Gżejjer Maltin.”

Stakeholders lokali u internazzjonali li segwew l-avveniment, attendew għal preżentazzjonijiet tekniċi mir-riċerkaturi, l-Inġiniera u l-produtturi tal-proġett, kif ukoll għal diskussjoni dwar il-qasam immexxija minn Komunikatriċi tax-Xjenza tal-Esplora.

L-attività kienet trasmessa live fuq facebook u tistgħu ssegwu permezz ta’ din il-ħolqa:

https://www.facebook.com/MaltaCouncilforScienceandTechnology/videos/905182810125598

 

 

 

 

This article was last updated on: October 6, 2021