Tallinn University of Technology

Horizon Europe's 5G-TIMBER innovation project started under the coordination of Tallinn University of Technology, which accelerates the implementation of 5G mobile communications, digital technologies and artificial intelligence in medium and small companies operating in the wood industry. From Estonia, the modular house manufacturer Harmet OÜ and the mechanical engineering company Hekotek AS take part in the project.

8. juunil kohtusid TalTechis 5G-Timber projekti osapooled.
5G-TIMBER team in Tallinn, Estonia at the project kick-off meeting on the 8th of June.

Despite the widespread beneficial impact 5G technologies have had on the manufacturing sector in the EU, the associated enabling and emerging digital tools and standards including edge-computing and artificial intelligence are rarely implemented by small and medium-size manufacturers. High cost, technological risks and lack of best practice discourage adoption. In these industries, small-volume machinery, hand-assembly and construction often present challenges in achieving efficient, green production, sustainability and zero-waste.

5G-TIMBER, funded by the European Commission, aims to address this dual challenge by supporting the rapid uptake of 5G technologies, considering real industrial practices and constraints in the EU timber industry over the wood value chain.  

An ambitious, multidisciplinary research and innovation team will conduct advanced, large-scale field trials on 5G deployments in energy-intensive scenarios such as sawmill machinery manufacturing, construction/renovation (woodhouse factory), wood waste valorisation through biochemical processes. The field trials are planned in Norway, Estonia and Finland. 

The team includes sixteen organisations from academia and industry across ten European countries. The project will demonstrate key innovations in timber by proposing advanced  digital wood models, open standards for production data, data analytics at the edge, precise indoor localization, “Digital Twin” and augmented reality applications and industrial IoT. They anticipate releasing an open source toolkit for wood manufacturing SMEs to support safe, sustainable and optimized data-driven manufacturing.

“Wood is the most widely used sustainable construction material, and growing in use for renovation and temporary housing. However, the underutilisation of wood (standing at only 63% in EU), high amount of waste (50-65%) and resource-inefficiency present security threats to EU citizens and markets. They account for the decrease in the competitiveness of EU enterprises compared to big exporters, like China”, said Professor Muhammad Mahtab Alam, the Project Coordinator from TalTech’s Thomas Johann Seebeck Department of Electronics.

“In the 5G-TIMBER project we specifically address the environmental and social sustainability of industrial production in the EU, by focusing on wood chain and construction sector, where the latter is responsible for 36% of GHG emissions in the EU.  Working closely with the wood industries, we want to increase wood-based materials recycling by 50%, increase productivity by 15%, reach 99% of the work done in the factory (vs. 85% today), reduce on-sitework by 10%, reduce product nonconformities by 10%, and increase workers’ safety in wooden houses production and onsite assembling.”

In the longer term, the 5G-TIMBER project will also contribute to meeting the growing demand for climate friendly products and raw materials, enabling greater use of wood and wood-based products, and extending the lifecycle of wood to 100+ years to reduce waste and greenhouse gases.

Dr. Pat O’Sullivan (CEO of Inlecom Commercial Pathways Company, Ireland, 5G-TIMBER partner) believes that 5G-TIMBER’s solutions go far beyond the timber industry and are able to promote sustainable, efficient data-driven manufacturing in many other EU materials value chains. “EU small and medium manufacturers face strong international competition. Achieving global leadership in clean and climate-neutral industrial value chains is vital to future success, and to increase job attractiveness and security for a large, talented workforce. This project will provide open-source and open-standard based applications, business analysis and exploitation pathways that I believe will ensure significant impact - for the wood industry, and many others.”

To support that ambition, partner Crowdhelix will create a network of at least 150 organizations. “It is our role to build an impact driven virtual community populated by world leading experts in the manufacturing industry and related fields of research, development and innovation”, said Michael Browne, CEO of Crowdhelix. Universities, research organisations, SMEs, large multinational corporations, investors, end-users, policy-makers, industry stakeholders from manufacturing, industrial production, wood production, machinery and more will be engaged and brought together to maximise the project impact.

5G-TIMBER has a total budget of 10 million EUR and will run for three years from 1 June 2022. Project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon Europe Innovation Action program under grant agreement number 101058505.