Virtual high-tech safari: 'Everything is neatly corona-proof'

News | June 29, 2020

"Hi guys, you have the scoop on this virtual tour through our factory." In the picture is Kevin Visser, Technology Manager at bus door builder Ventura in Bolsward. Walking with his smartphone, he shows the offices, the production hall and the test center. He has never shown the factory to guests in this way before. Some colleagues are taken aback for a moment when Kevin confronts them with an audience of 20 students via his smartphone Industrial Engineering and Management of the University of Groningen† Fortunately, they see the fun in it.

In the production hall, Kevin shows a long row of bus doors being assembled. ,,As you can see, everything is neatly corona-proof. Thanks to the large hall with enough space.” In his web presentation earlier that afternoon, Kevin talks about advanced, pneumatic systems with which the bus doors are equipped. A student wants to know about its safety. Kevin keeps his left hand between the doors as they close. As soon as sensors detect his hand, the doors open again. ,,In all the years that we have been making doors for the buses in London, only one person has become stuck. And that was mainly due to himself, because he was drunk," Kevin said.


The virtual high-tech safari starts that afternoon with a pub quiz. ,,To get in there and break the ice a bit'', explains ICD program manager Joost Krebbekx. Whoever answers most of the 40 questions in categories such as 'famous engineers', 'classic formulas', 'famous technology disasters' and 'nerdy details' will win a Tesla ride. Theun Prins, director and owner of a high-tech company YP Your Partner in Drachten, makes his car available for this. With his story about 'inside and influence through monitoring and control', he takes the students on a tour of how he monitors and analyzes data and thus supports customers in predicting maintenance and product optimization. "It only becomes interesting if you collect data from hundreds of devices to be able to extract interesting data." Two years ago, according to Prins, this was still too expensive for many companies. “Nowadays, companies are drowning in data, but have no idea how to approach motoring and analysis. That makes them insecure.” Prins says that he has been working on customized solutions for six years in so-called partnerships with companies. “Such a partnership is new for many companies, because they have always worked independently. But with so much data, you can't do anything but work together. "If you can't bite, join them."


“With smaller engines, we have to use less fuel. This can be done, for example, by dynamically using a generator of an air conditioner in combination with battery technology. That already saves 70 percent of the fuel. Great, we saved the world!'' Martijn Favot, Chief Technical Officer at high-tech company WhisperPower in Drachten, immediately caught the attention of the students. His company has been focusing on power technology for years, the combination of efficient fuel use with solar and wind energy, especially for festivals, the offshore, luxury yachts and the transport of luxury and race horses. Favot outlines that electricity is seen worldwide as a primary energy source, but that we are still in a transition for the time being. He sees that new technology is only slowly being embraced by the market. “Today's oil price ensures that generating electricity yourself is profitable, but that does not solve the biggest problem. Batteries, which are needed to store electricity if we cannot generate it sustainably, will never be cheap.” Favot explains that putting energy in a battery and taking it out again costs 20 percent of the energy. “That is why battery systems can only be a solution for temporary power supplies. Such as batteries that are installed next to solar parks, in case the yield falls short on cloudy days.” According to Favot, energy is therefore far too cheap to be able to make the necessary investments to greatly improve batteries. That is why WhisperPower has been 'experimenting' with solar boats for six years now Dutch Solar Challenge† “We gain all kinds of experience in organizing the energy supply of a solar boat in a smart way. In this way it is not only possible to sail quickly, but especially also for a long time.” One of the students wants to know from Favot when all homes will have their own energy supply and can be so-called off-grid. "That costs 80,000 euros per home, which is an enormous amount and for the time being not yet relevant for normal homes."