Würth Elektronik Develops CHARM for Robust Electronics for Harsh Industrial Environments


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In June 2020, Würth Elektronik started the EU project CHARM together with 36 European partners. The goal of the ECSEL JU project CHARM is to develop industrial IoT solutions that have an improved tolerance to harsh industrial environments. The digitisation of European manufacturing industries is key to their continued renewal and competitiveness. Harsh environmental conditions in manufacturing processes and in the end-user environment can slow down the opportunities that IoT (Internet of Things) and AI (Artificial Intelligence) present. The CHARM project is designed to solve this challenge.

CHARM (Challenging Environment Tolerant Smart Systems for IoT and AI) runs over a period of three years and is a comprehensive project with 37 partners from 10 European and a total budget of 29 million euros. Co-financing is provided by the European research programme ECSEL JU, EU Horizon 2020, national funding agencies of the participating countries and the project partners. The partners come from Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Italy, Latvia, the Netherlands, Poland, and Switzerland.

The CHARM project develops technologies for condition monitoring, predictive maintenance, automation, real-time production control, and optimisation and demonstration systems for virtual prototyping systems and tests them in industrial environments. “The CHARM project will contribute to strengthening the competitiveness of European industry in the market for robust electronic components and systems, the immediate availability of which is also essential for other markets (smart systems, embedded systems, cyber physical systems) in the industrial sector,” explained Dr. Alina Schreivogel, member of the Research and Development Department at Würth Elektronik Circuit Board Technology (CBT).

ECS technology (electronics, components and systems) must be designed to withstand the combination of severe thermal, mechanical and chemical stresses that occur during industrial manufacturing processes. The CHARM project will demonstrate solutions for condition monitoring, predictive maintenance and quality assurance in real time for six use cases.

The people responsible for CHARM use cases come from six different production areas: Mining (Sandvik Mining and Construction Oy, Finland), paper production (Valmet Technologies Inc., Finland), mechanical engineering (Tornos SA, Switzerland), production of solar modules (Applied Materials Italia SRL, Italy), maintenance and decommissioning of nuclear power plants (ÚJV Řež, a.s., Czech Republic) and professional digital printing (Canon Production Printing Netherlands BV, Netherlands). The project consortium consists of 11 small and medium-sized enterprises, 14 large companies and 12 research and technology companies. They represent the industrial value chain, ranging from simulations, sensors and components to packaging, integration and reliability as well as connectivity, cloud and cyber security solutions.

The project will develop sensors e.g. for gas detection, high temperatures and high pressures, advanced image processing systems for real-time quality control and autonomous devices for industrial applications. To ensure that the sensors withstand such harsh conditions, packaging technologies for electronic components are used that go beyond the current state of technological progress. The IoT systems will also include new solutions for wireless power transmission, connectivity and cybersecurity.

“As part of the project CHARM, Würth Elektronik will focus on the development of packaging and interconnection technology for rugged assemblies at the PCB level with integrated sensors,” said Dr. Alina Schreivogel. “At the same time, we are also aiming to extensively miniaturize sensor modules with high functionality. Our expert knowledge of PCB-based sensors and innovation approaches for flexible film systems allows us to support our project partners conceptually, technologically, but also from the point of view of the end user.”

Valmet, the world's leading developer and supplier of technology, automation, and services for the pulp, paper, and energy industries, is acting as project coordinator for CHARM. Spinverse, the Nordic innovation consulting company, coordinated the project application process and the establishment of the consortium and was also selected by the partners to support the project planning and administration as well as the management and moderation during the project.

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