INESC TEC patents revolutionary technology for the footwear industry
On the 21st March 2012 INESC TEC (coordinated by INESC Porto) received a European patent for an innovative logistics system developed by the Manufacturing Systems Engineering Unit (UESP) for assembly/manufacturing in footwear factories. The system has advantages, such as increased production, flexibility, the production of small series and reduced production time for orders.
The European patent Nº 2 135 823, “Modular multi-ring system for flexible supply of workstation” is for the assembly and finishing sections and the aim is to simultaneously produce different types of footwear on the same production line, integrating various sections.
The system consists of a two ring innovative logistics system. One outer ring links the machinery and the operators and an inner ring allows overtaking and only takes each shoe to the workstation where adjustments will be made. The aim is to make the time the shoe spends on the line equal to the total time spent on each operation that adds value.
The system was developed as part of CEC-made-shoe (Custom, Environment and Comfort made shoe), a project that radically improved European competitiveness in production processes and the design of new products. This opened the door for biodegradable footwear, smart footwear (that is able to adapt to specific conditions) and seamless footwear.
The system is now patented in Europe and it has been installed in the Portuguese footwear company Kyaia in Paredes de Coura. The company has since been able to increase its production, produce highly diversified orders and reduce the time taken to produce an order. With less stock in production and between sections and better use of resources, this system has even more advantages.
Rui Diogo Rebelo, a researcher at UESP, is the project coordinator at INESC TEC. José Carlos Caldeira, a director of INESC Porto, also participated in the INESC TEC team along with Pedro Ribeiro, Fernando Guedes, Luís Guardão and Paulo Sá Marques, all from UESP.