Smart Tooling

About Smart Tooling 

Smart Tooling focusses on automation in the process industry: making maintenance safer, cheaper, cleaner, and more efficient by developing new robot prototypes and tools. For example, robots that clean and inspect areas that are hard or impossible to reach for humans. The R&D topics are inspection robots, cleaning robots, shared workspace robots (cobots), and unmanned aerial systems (UAS).

Robot technology is an important development in the maintenance industry, but because it is relatively new there are many uncertainties and many unresearched possibilities. Smart Tooling provides funding to small companies to stimulate robot technology innovation and development in the Flanders-The Netherlands region.

Smart Tooling is an Interreg Flanders-Netherlands project sponsored by the European Union.


Smart Tooling is coordinated by Knowledge and Innovation Center for Maintenance in the Processindustry (Ki<|MPi), and is a collaboration of partners from industry (engineering companies, inspection companies, asset owners) and academia.

  • Avans University of Applied Sciences (Avans Hogeschool)
  • BEMAS - Belgian Maintenance Association vzw
  • BASF Antwerpen
  • BOM Business Development & Foreign Investments B.V.
  • Dow Benelux B.V.
  • N.V. Economische Impuls Zeeland (Impuls)
  • REWIN Projects BV
  • Sirris
  • University of Gent
  • University of Twente (that’s us!)

Role of RaM in the project

The focus of RaM’s work in Smart Tooling is on autonomous inspection of industrial pipelines. Typical inspection tasks are locating defects and deformations, and verifying the wall thickness. Pipelines with turns, splits, or with sections with varying diameter cannot be inspected by a PIG (Pipeline Inspection Gauge). Currently, the whole inspection process of such pipes is performed manually by technicians, but the technician doesn’t fit inside these pipes and thus the pipe is inspected from the outside. However, the pipe may be covered with isolation layers which need to be removed first, only to discover that there are no damages (e.g. rust) beneath the isolation layers. 

The solution RaM is working on is a robot that can be placed inside the pipe to carry out the inspection. This way, the technicians only have to check and repair the points of interest that the robot detected.

Current Activities

In order to perform autonomous inspection a lot of steps need to be done on the robot “brain” and we will work mainly in that direction, but not only. 

We are currently working on: 

-       - Designing software architecture 

-       - Mechanical redesigning 

-       - Modelling and simulating the robot in the pipeline network 

-       - AI and learning approaches for making the robot more autonomous and smarter

We are always looking for very motivated students (BSc or MSc) that want to dive in the awesome world of robotics. Interested students can contact Nicolò Botteghi ( for available assignments.


Project lead

no picture available Stefano Stramigioli


no picture available
Nicolò Botteghi MSc