In the year 2012 Celeroton completed an engineering project with Rieter CZ. Dr. Jiri Sloupensky, Rieter’s manager of this project, talks about the collaboration.
Mr Sloupensky, you have been working for Rieter in Usti nad Orlici (CZ) for many years. In which field of Rieter‘s activities do you operate?
I started my career in textile machinery development in 1977 at the research institute in Usti nad Orlici where the break through rotor spinning technology was invented. Luckily, I had the chance to work with all the inventors of this innovation. In 1992, I joined a company called Elitex as head of their R&D department. In 1994 Elitex was taken over by Rieter, which is why I became a part of the Rieter group.
Since then I have been responsible for the product research. My team’s task is to look for new technical opportunities, which could be useful for future Rieter products. We test them and bring them to the status of laboratory proven technologies or experimental set-ups, which then have a chance to get integrated into the product development phase.
At Rieter CZ, I am also personally responsible for the whole R&D department, which totals about 100 people in mechanical design, electronics, software and textile technology at the moment.
In your function as Vice President Product Research you have run an engineering project in collaboration with Celeroton in 2012. What was the problem you wanted Celeroton to solve? Can you tell our readers about it?
Within one of our projects we investigated some new ideas in the area of complex mechatronic solutions, which should allow us to better control the yarn produced in one of Rieter’s machines. During this investigation we were faced with the problem of very sophisticated control of two small drives with different requirements for the torque and speed. The changing requirements during the different phases of the controlled process added some difficulty to the project.
And what was the work Celeroton contributed to the solution?
After we had turned all the necessary basic hardware (one of our test rigs) and basic specifications of our needs over to Celeroton, their engineers specified the right motor types and carried out all design and development of the required system. Finally we received an electronic control box, adapted from their standard product and a complete software package, usable for our internal tests.
Looking at the project from an economic point of view, how could the results affect Rieter’s next generation products?
It is a common way of Rieter to involve its partners closely. We look seriously at their needs and develop together with them solutions, which sometimes could also be of value for others.
In this specific case, and as described above, the project was only held in our research department. Therefore, there is no clear plan to go to the market with such a solution (yet). The whole project is very complex and this specific task for Celeroton was just a small portion of it.
Could you tell us why you have chosen Celeroton as your partner for this project and how you have found out about us?
I have known Celeroton since 2008, when some Rieter Switzerland colleagues and I were invited to ETH Zurich to discuss opportunities for collaboration in the area of small electric drives. That’s where I first met Dr. Christof Zwyssig, one of the original founders of Celeroton.
Then in 2009 our first task was given to Celeroton. We asked them to give us an expert opinion about the overall drive concept of a new Rieter Airjet machine, especially focused on the energy consumption and efficiency. We were very satisfied with the job Celeroton had done. By the way, this machine called J20 was successfully introduced to the world market at the international textile exhibition in Barcelona in 2011. Whenever there was an additional opportunity to work with Celeroton again we were willing to use it.
Taking a review on the whole project – what do you think was special about the way of co-working with Celeroton and its services provided to Rieter? Can you recommend it?
One point I would like to stress out is that it was rather easy to explain to Celeroton’s employees what we really needed, how the process should have worked and what the critical points were.
We knew that our written specifications weren’t perfect yet and even were partly changed several times during the project. That’s why we appreciated the flexibility of Celeroton to accept the fact, that we were only in the research phase and the requirements could not be defined down to the detail at the beginning of the project.
Another point worth mentioning was the direct communication between the engineers working on the project on both sides. They have spent a lot of time on the phone to discuss open points; even though it was in English, which is a foreign language for both sides.
Thank you for your time and this interview.
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Dr. Jiri Sloupensky, Vice President Product Research, has been working at Rieters Czech division for many years. Together with his colleagues he is looking for new promising technical principles which could help optimizing Rieter’s spinning machinery.