Glass Technology Services, working alongside partners I3D Robotics and Lucideon, have been awarded funding to develop intelligent robotic systems to improve production processes within the energy-intensive foundation industries.

The project – Intelligent Robotic Inspection for Foundation Industry Optimisation (IRIFIO) – has received funding as part of the government’s Fast Start competition under The Transforming Foundation Industries (TFI) programme, overseen by Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation.

The aim is to reduce energy requirements in both glass and ceramics manufacture by using modern advancements in 3D machine vision and artificial intelligence to monitor and improve product quality and minimise waste.

David Eustice Senior Technologist in R&D at Glass Technology Services said: “This provides a great opportunity to use recent advancements in machine vison to improve the inspection of flat glass.

“I am excited about the potential use of artificial intelligence to identify a wider range of anomalies, not only to improve quality, but also to allow grading and appropriate use of glass which would typically be rejected, often after significant post processing.”

Dr Richard French, Senior Systems Analyst for i3DR and Project Manager for IRIFIO, commented: “Current inspection method limitations in the foundation industries have resulted in inflexible, time and energy-intensive material production process.

“This proposed solution will allow for highly accurate, repeatable production process measurements that will highlight defects using in-process, non-destructive testing of materials. This will benefit resource and energy efficiency, producing significant cost reduction.”

The project builds on previous work inspecting defects in metals production.

The Glass Technology Services research and development team provide support and research into a range of glass solutions and sectors.

Projects span from fundamental scientific research, to the development of novel glass compositions, through to commercialisation.