Norwegian wool producer Devold is implementing a breakthrough R&D project together with Factobotics, a founding member of the Lithuanian Robotics Association. An innovative overhead robotic logistics system is set to increase the efficiency of sewing processes. The new solution is planned to be scaled and offered to other manufacturing companies.

Norwegian company Devold has been in operation for more than 160 years. It is known as a pioneer in the development of innovative merino wool, designed for outdoor wearing and professionals working in demanding conditions. In 2018 the company started partnership with Factobotics – Lithuanian robotics company that has been chosen to provide a solution for automating processes in Devold’s main production facilities, located in Lithuania. Devold has been in need for increasing efficiency of indoor material and unfinished product logistics and has been searching for partners both in Norway and Lithuania. The company has chosen the most ambitious route – instead of adapting any of already existing alternatives, it opted for creating a new solution together with Factobotics.

Solution to Grow into a New Robotics Startup

In the competition initiated by L4MS (Logistics for Manufacturing SMEs), dedicated to internal factory logistics automation, Factobotics, a member of the Lithuanian Robotics Association, was recognised as the best of all applications from European companies last year. A unique team, together with a textile company Devold, will develop an internal logistics system OHTider at the Norwegian textile factory in Panevezys. Devold productivity growth was limited by the traditional raw material logistics systems – wooden carts used in the sewing department. The new system is unique in that, instead of the floor-driving autonomous mobile robots, logistics will be performed over sewing-operators’ heads, not only saving floor space, but also optimally controlling the path of raw materials and work in progress between different sewing operations.

Revolutionising internal transportation of materials

The project involves creation of algorithms for transportation of materials and semi-finished products between sewing workstations and their storage in a smart way. Also, building a robot that physically transports the necessary materials above the workstations. The completed system will collect and manage real-time data, related with material and products logistics, allowing optimization of sewing process, reducing production time and downtime.

The project is currently transitioning from research stage to development. After the launch in Devold’s factory, the smart logistics solution will be further scaled and offered to other companies. The joint startup of Lithuanian and Norwegian companies plans to offer this unique internal logistics system to companies mainly focusing on clothing manufacturing sector, but with potential to be adapted for other production industries.

This is a big and very complex project. At the moment we are preparing to implement the initial installation processes in the factory. We hope that the system will reach production level this year”

Justinas Katkus, head of Factobotics.

Norway and Lithuania – Partners for Green Innovation

Devold and Factobotics is only one example of successful cooperation between Norway and Lithuania. Bilateral cooperation has been taking place for almost thirty years, more than 250 Norwegian businesses, including names like “Gjensidige“, “Kitron“, “YARA”, have activities in this Baltic state. Lithuanian entrepreneurs, operating in IT, laser and manufacturing services, open businesses in Norway. Lithuania is the biggest Norway’s export partner in the Baltics.

The countries share the vision of modern and sustainable economy, thus they are strengthening cooperation in innovation and development of green industry solutions. Norway is particularly focused on biotechnology, nanotechnology and green technology. As a rising life sciences hub, Lithuania is an attractive partner for R&D activities in these areas as well as energy, defence, finance technology sectors.

Breakthrough in green innovation in Lithuania is being accelerated by “Norway Grants” program “Business Development, Innovation and SMEs“. Read more about the “Norway Grants” program here.

The Announcement was written based on the article by MITA – the Agency for Science, Innovation and Technology.
The Agency for Science, Innovation and Technology (MITA) has been appointed as an operator of the “Norway Grants” programme ‘Business development, Innovation and SMEs’.