LUT University is establishing a new sustainable mechatronics professorship in Lahti with donated funds. The new professorship reinforces the university's expertise in intelligent system design from the perspective of sustainable development.
The aim is to develop new, practical solutions for improving the energy efficiency and sustainability of machines and devices and to educate more professionals with skills in both technology and sustainable development.
“Sustainable mechatronics is a growing field, and the need to train new experts is considerable. The new professorship focuses on devices and technologies that help us all live our lives more sustainably,” says Aki Mikkola, head of LUT's mechanical engineering department.
Related devices may include smart and energy-efficient industrial robots, electric non-road mobile machinery and vehicles, and systems where humans and robots interact. Also, close and remote control interfaces between employees and production lines can be further developed.
“We should also take greater advantage of virtual and augmented reality to assist machine operators and maintenance staff,” adds Heikki Handroos, professor of mechanical engineering at LUT University.
The Lahti area expands its sustainability expertise
The sustainable mechatronics professorship bridges a gap between industry and academic research.
“Corporate collaboration plays an important role in the development of sustainable mechatronics applications. The professorship also helps to prepare companies for future challenges,” Mikkola goes on to say.
The new professorship responds to the need for sustainable development from the societal perspective. In addition to environmental responsibility, the field of the professorship includes the aspect of individual and social sustainability that takes into consideration how individuals and communities interact with machines, production systems and digital tools.
“Businesses aspire to increase their productivity by means such as automation and digitalization, but their interfaces should also be functional and easy to use. Systems that are sustainable for both society and individuals take functionality into account already at the design and manufacture stage,” Handroos points out.
Handroos maintains that to stay competitive, businesses will need to make their products and production lines increasingly easy to use.
“Many companies already suffer from a workforce shortage or will at the very least do so in the future. The professorship will help enterprises in the Lahti area to develop the functionality of their products and production processes to make them more appealing in the eyes of potential employees.”
What does sustainable mechatronics mean?
- Mechatronics is the design and manufacture of advanced and intelligent systems or devices, machines and technologies.
- Sustainability consists of three dimensions: environmental, social and economic sustainability.
- Environmental sustainability means saving energy, reducing waste and utilizing renewable sources of energy.
- Social sustainability takes into consideration how individuals and communities interact with machines, production systems and digital tools.
- Economic sustainability is achieved when machines operate efficiently, profitably and competitively.
The sustainable mechatronics professorship has received funding from the City of Lahti (500,000 euros), the PHP Säätiö foundation (375,000 euros), Makron, Halton Marine Oy, Kemppi Oy, Andtriz Oy , Kempower Oyj, LSK Group Oy, UPM Plywood Oy, Oilon Group Oy and Dieffenbacher Panelboard Oy.