A new high-tech development and design center established at Karatay University in central Turkey with EU funds promises prototyping, validation and testing processes in the production industry's research and development (R&D) projects.
Based on demand analysis studies by the university, the Smart Technologies Design Development and Prototyping Centre (STEDEC) project in Konya was prepared for extinguishing manufacturers' shortcomings in producing agricultural machinery equipped with smart technologies, project manager Baris Samim Nesimioglu told Anadolu Agency.
"Our region remains lacking in producing agricultural machinery equipped with smart technologies compatible with the precision agriculture developed with the use of satellite positioning data made available to civilians in the late nineties and the agriculture 4.0 platform that started to be talked about in 2010s," he said.
The school’s academics identified manufacturers’ biggest shortcomings in producing that type of equipment, offered solutions one-by-one and turned the suggestions into a project, which was presented to the EU to gain Konya a grand center, and the university qualified for €5 million ($6 million) in funds from the EU for the project, he said.
While the 80.16% of this fund was provided by the EU, the rest of amount was provided by the Turkish Industry and Technology Ministry, as part of Competitive Sectors Program.
Competitive Sectors Program, aiming to increase productivity, accelerate industrialization and develop a competitive production structure for export, is an umbrella program under the financial cooperation between European Union and Turkey.
Touching on the center's capabilities, he said: "I can divide the core capabilities of our center into prototyping and validation-testing. Here, I can further divide our prototyping capabilities into two subcategories being mechanical and electronic."
The center has technological three-dimensional printers that can produce both plastic and metal prints that have the same mechanical properties as the real thing from very different materials.
In terms of electronic prototyping, the center has all the devices in the PCB (Printed Circuit Board) line and can make all electronic printed circuits from idea to prototype.
On the validation-testing side, the center has precision measuring devices such as a 50 GHz frequency signal-spectrum analyzer and a vector network analyzer, and an echo-free – or anechoic – chamber for conducting electromagnetic compatibility tests of electronic-based equipment.
Saying that there are a few valuable centers in Turkey that perform one of the services, Nesimioglu said there is no other center that holistically offers all of these prototyping, testing and verification services that you may need in a research and development project.
"So, with this center of ours, we promise first to the Konya region and then to all of Turkey a center where they can receive service at multiple interactive points with more than one coexisting component," he said.
The center's targets, he said, is aimed to become a nationally-known center that has achieved certain tasks in Turkey and established a mentality and to be one of the leading centers in the area of research and development.
"Our longer-term goal is to be a center that manages international projects, as long as we achieve some success and ensure our financial sustainability, what we’ll actually be doing here is increasing the capabilities of this place.
"So, we’ll either increase the number of these devices after certain achievements depending on demand or we’ll strive to continuously improve our equipment park in order to respond to demand or if we have requests that we cannot respond to," he said.
Nesimioglu also said that even the center's main purpose is agricultural machinery, its door is open to the entire production industry.
"We’re going to be more than an R&D center in the field of agricultural machinery, we established this center to transform agricultural machinery, to launch a different era in terms of producing equipment related to agriculture 4.0," he said.
"But, when our producers operating in other production professions need a solution partner or service provider or other needs in research and development projects, we’ll try our hardest to be by their side until the end."
Nesimioglu stressed that the funds will be used not only to purchase devices, but for operational activities and studies.
He said the university will also contribute to the center with almost €1 million funds ($1.18 million) and the center will interact with the university's faculties.
"Our graduate, postgraduate and doctoral students will be included in industrial and R&D projects and will be more qualified," he said. "We will use our human source in every project, we will integrate our students and their thesis to our R&D projects.”
Konya Karatay University was established in 2009 by the Konya Chamber of Commerce in the central province of Konya.