The Magic of Inventory Tracking – Demystified by IMaR Gateway

Companies in Ireland, across the retail, agritech, supply chain, healthcare and manufacturing sectors, have many technology needs. Applications to meet those needs include wearable prototypes, Track & Trace solutions, inventory management, patient safety, asset tracking, authentication and Real Time Location Systems (RTLS). 

RTLS is the name generally used to describe systems for tracking and locating indoors although it is not exclusive to indoor systems. It is implemented using a range of technologies and algorithms and these are discussed below. Radio frequency identification has its origins in Radar and the creation of its extension Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) in which a radio signal impinging on a transponder caused it to emit its identification signal.

Developed as an identification technology and an asset tracking mechanism, its use was extended to location using a number of different techniques. The identification principle is where an impinging radio frequency is modulated by the transponder, commonly called a tag, to include the transponder’s identifier and through coupling either by magnetic flux or electromagnetic wave some portion of the energy is sent back towards the RFID reader where it is interpreted. Low frequency (LF) and high frequency (HF) tags use near-field or magnetic-field (inductive)coupling to the reader, while ultra-high frequency (UHF) tags use far-field or electromagnetic wave coupling to the reader. LF RFID systems operate at 125 kHz or 134 kHz and are predominantly used for animal identification or access systems.  

HF RFID systems operate at 13.56 MHz. HF systems are primarily used in tickets systems or more recently in payment systems. The most common HF RFID system is called NFC which stands for Near Field Communications. It is essentially a subset of HF RFID with the peculiarity that NFC readers can communicate with one another, exclusive to it alone among RFID systems. This is exploited in payment systems using mobile phones where the NFC reader on the phone communicates with the checkout NFC reader. Additionally several companies and organisations use NFC based identity cards for their employees that can control access to different areas based on employee authorisations. These systems tend to have lower unit costs, in part due to the wide deployment and their inherent ergonomics. LF and HF systems’ range is quite limited and the user needs to actuate the read mechanism by bringing the tag or reader, in the case of a smart phone, close to the reading device. For animal tracking, the animals are funnelled through a narrow gap to allow their tags to be read. Ultra-high frequency, (UHF), signals propagate using the far field and thus have a greater range and can be further divided into passive systems and active systems. Passive systems include both tags containing integrated circuits (IC) or chips (the classic passive tags) and tags where the identifier is a consequence of a physical arrangement of the tag such as in Surface Acoustic Wave (SAW) tags. The chip-less tags use resonant structures, different resonant combinations being used to form tag identifications.  The passive tags reflect back a portion of the energy they receive from the reader transmitting antenna. In the case of a SAW tag, the RF wave is converted to an acoustic wave by virtue of the antenna being bonded to a crystal structure that converts the energy from an electromagnetic wave to a physical wave using the piezoelectric electric effect.  

There are many other mechanisms to engineer chip-less tags such as Time-domain reflectometry, a form of printable tag, nanometricmaterial ink-tatoos, a form of chemical etched tags and others. For active RFID systems, the tag periodically transmits its identification without the need for the tag to be impacted by a transmitted signal, consequentially requiring a power source. Active tags have an advantage of a greater read range but are more expensive than their passive counterparts and use proprietary protocols.

A hybrid UHF version exists, called semi-passive, whereby the power source is used to power the tag logic circuitry only and does not actively transmit its identifier giving a much longer battery life but also providing a greater range. UHF tags found a ready use in the logistics environment where shipments entering or leaving choke points, such as loading bay doors, could be easily read. The usage evolved from tracking assets to tracking humans although other applications such as contact-free toll charging also arose.

An RFID system has as its basic components, an antenna, a modulator-demodulator and a controller. The antenna is the air interface that converts an electrical signal from the modulator to a radio wave in the case of a UHF system or an extending magnetic flux in the case of a HF or LF system. It also operates in the reverse direction converting the received EM wave or magnetic flux and converting it back to an electrical signal. The modulator-demodulator converts the electrical signal to a binary signal and vice-versa. It also provides an impedance matching element to the antenna. The binary signal comes from or is passed to the controller. The controller will perform any encryption or decryption of the signal to be passed to the tag. For UHF readers there will be additional functionality and complexity to handle the potentially large volume of tags to be managed where a hundred or more tags can be read per second creating complex issues surrounding signal recovery. Additionally, UHF readers can have multiple antennae which adds further complexity. 

That’s where IMaR comes in. IMaR has experience of a wide range of sensing, mechatronic and tagging technologies. IMaR can also now support companies’ own initiatives, by measuring performance of RFID devices and application setups, verifying conformance, supporting the development of readers, tags and ICs, measuring tag frequency sensitivity, communication range and backscatter measurements. To that end, IMaR has acquired a state-of-the-art radio frequency identification (RFID) test and development suite, funded by Enterprise Ireland. Wherever humanly possible, IMaR will deploy and test of RFID equipment on-site in industrial environment. The development suite includes a full complement of RFID readers, antennas, RF test equipment and a large catalogue of RFID tags of varying properties which satisfy many different use cases. The facility’s RFID readers cover a wide range of applications: high frequency (HF, for ticketing, payment, and data transfer applications), low frequency (LF, good for livestock tracking), RAIN (passive tags), near-field communication (NFC, for contactless payment etc.), ultra-wideband (UWB, for track-and-trace) plus associated antenna arrays/multiplexers and a series of RFID test units. 

 For more information check out the IMaR Website or follow them on Twitter

Technology Gateways in your region: East / North East

Are you prepared to start innovating, or perhaps you want RD&I support for a current project, process, or service? The first step is to get in touch with those who can assist. Do you know that Enterprise Ireland has a nationwide network of Technology Gateways? We have created a guide highlighting the innovation, support, funding, expertise, and advice that is accessible to businesses in the East / North East (and beyond) through the Technology Gateway Network. 

Three Technology Gateways, situated at the Technological University Dublin (TUD) and Dundalk Institute of Technology (DkIT), are located in the East/North East areas and provide specializations in engineering surface technology, microsensors, renewable energy, and other fields. The combination of experience and skill is unmatched, with a wide range of guidance and information available along with financing and assistance from Enterprise Ireland. 


CREST Technology Gateway (Centre for Research In Engineering surface technology gateway) TUD Kevin Street, Dublin.  

The CREST Gateway offers coatings innovation solutions to the building, engineering, healthcare, and biomedical industries. The Enterprise Ireland-funded gateway, located on Kevin Street on TUD’s campus, is the island of Ireland’s sole specialized surface coatings laboratory. 

CREST operates under an ISO 9001 Quality Management System and annually delivers consultancy services to over 100 companies ranging from Irish SMEs to worldwide enterprises. The gateway was verified as a laboratory by the FOCAS Research Institute. 

In the field of surface coatings, the Irish engineering, aerospace, automotive, architectural, electronics, biomedical, and healthcare industries are being served through CREST Technology Gateway. The center offers an exceptional level of service because to its more than 60 years of industrial surface coating experience. 


  • Protective coatings for challenging environments 
  • Surface treatment of metal components 
  • Coatings for environmental applications 
  • Biomedical devices 

MiCRA Technology Gateway (Microsensors for Clinical Research & Analysis Gateway) TUD Tallaght, Dublin 

The MiCRA Gateway, situated at TU Dublin – Tallaght, provides solutions for businesses in the environmental, agri-food, bio/pharmaceuticals, and animal/human diagnostics sectors. 

The facility’s operations are sponsored through industrial partnerships and supported by Enterprise Ireland’s Technology Gateways initiative. The facility’s portfolio of applied research is robust and expanding, making knowledge and experience available to local and national business. 

MiCRA collaborates with academic applied research, business owners, start-ups, SMEs, and big industrial firms to develop solutions in sensors and diagnostic devices that are closer to the demands of the Irish industry. Through a variety of funding sources, ranging from the shortest feasibility studies to projects that take more than two years to complete, the gateway collaborates with industry clients and partners: 

  • Innovation/Co-Funded Vouchers and Innovation Partnerships 
  • Commercialization Fund, H2020, Direct Industry Funding, etc. 
  • Consulting; Contract Research/Analysis 


  • Sensor design-engineering & prototyping 
  • Human and animal healthcare/diagnostics: sensor development  
  • Dairy/agri-foodsensing technology: process & quality control  
  • Rapid/portablesensors for environmental & water testing  
  • Materials development & characterization 
  • Bio/pharma: process & quality control 
  • Analytical services  

 North East 

CREDIT Technology Gateway (Centre For Renewables and Energy Technology Gateway) DkIT, Dundalk 

CREDIT Gateway focuses on renewable energy, energy optimization, and energy storage. It uses cutting-edge technology, industry know-how, and specialized knowledge from the energy and renewables sectors to support entrepreneurial businesses and companies in bringing new and improved procedures, goods, and services to market. 

The gateway collaborates with enterprises, industries, and communities to build a continuous innovation cycle that turns product and service concepts into reality. Entrepreneurs and innovators may use prototyping to test, evaluate, learn from, and modify ideas, which assists in their development. 

This facility is becoming an important part of Ireland’s energy and renewables innovation and research environment, actively assisting businesses and industries in becoming more viable through solving problems, targeted R&D, innovation, and enabling faster implementation of emerging methodologies and technologies to develop new markets. 


  • Renewables 
  • Energy Optimisation 
  • Energy Storage 

For additional information on our Gateways or previous projects, check out our Network page and case studies section. 



Design for Manufacture and Assembly in New Product Development

The Design for Manufacture and assembly (DFMA) process is utilised in all forms of manufacturing. Errors made early in the design process when designing a component or a system of components can cause significant problems further down the value chain. If the appropriate consideration is not given to key design criteria with respect to manufacturing and assembly then companies could end up paying the price at a later stage.

An example of this would be a recall on a defective component in a car. In this example, the car manufacturer must incur the cost of redesigning the replacement parts, supply the replacement parts, pay an authorised dealership to have a mechanic replace the defective parts and, in some cases, provide a courtesy car – this will obviously lead to significant cost for the manufacturer as well as irreversible reputational damage.

PEM/ BESPRA Collaboration  

The PEM Technology Gateway have recently completed a cross-border collaboration in the DFMA space with metal fabrication company BESPRA. The company’s main object was to develop their own heavy duty welding positioner (RotoRyze), with the intention of mass manufacturing the system in the future. The system in question would be used to handle heavy duty workpieces while the company’s fabrication team were working on them. As well as the need to be of solid structural design, the positioner also needed to have automation incorporated into it to allow the fabrication team to alter the position of workpieces for accessibility and ergonomics.  

For more information on this product please visit the BESPRA website.

The DFMA Process 

Like any other design processes, DFMA follows a set of predetermined steps, some of which are iterative in nature. However, to avoid any issues later in the products lifecycle, a specialist knowledge of the associated engineering field and related manufacturing techniques is essential. The key DFMA process steps include but are not limited to:  

Define the problem and establish objectives: Speak to all the key stakeholders in order to gain more insight about problem. The stakeholders include: the MD, engineering staff, technical staff, the end user, and 3rd party manufacturers. The idea here is that each stakeholder can provide input from a unique perspective that other stakeholders could potentially miss.  

Create a User Requirement Specifications (URS) for the product: The URS is used to define what the “end user” needs to get from the product under development. The URS should take in to account the whole continuum of concerns, from the initial concept idea to packaging and delivery. Time spent developing a robust user requirement specification will help avoid problems or oversights with the product later in the product lifecycle. 

Concept generation and selection:  

Concept generation is a five-step methodology for producing valid subsystems and components. These five steps include: 

1. Clarifying the problem – This involves taking a closer look at key inputs and decomposing complex problems into simpler sub-problems.   

2. Searching externally – Question users and consult experts. Research published literature, search for any existing patents and benchmark related products on the market. 

3. Searching internally – Leverage existing staff knowledge to generate initial concept solutions. Many ideas should be generated here in a non-judgemental way, even ideas that may not seem viable.  
4. Exploring systematically – This looks at all the potential combinations of solutions for each subsystem. This can be achieved using:

  • Concept fragments 
  • Concept classification trees 
  • Problem decomposition models 
  • Concept combination tables 

5. Reflecting on the solutions and the process – This should be done throughout the whole process to ensure that as many solutions are captured as possible.

Figure 2 – Concept Generation Flow Chart 

Concept selection is an iterative process which ultimately leads to a single concept design upon which subsequent development activities will be focused. Methods for choosing a concept include:  

  • External decision 
  • Product champion 
  • Intuition 
  • Pros vs cons 
  • Prototyping and testing 
  • Decision matrices 

The decision matrices method offers several benefits such as documenting the entire decision-making process and ensuring that a competitive design will be selected. There are two key decision matrices that assist with selecting the optimum concept: 

  1. Concept Screening Is the initial screening process used to screen out non-viable ideas. This is achieved by rating and ranking each concept. Each concept is either accepted, eliminated, combined or revised based on the outcome of the initial rating and ranking process 

Table 1 – Concept Screening Matrix Example 

2. Concept Scoring Is a more refined process which uses weighted scoring to evaluate key selection criteria for each of the concepts that made it through the initial screening process. Each is rated and ranked, with the highest scoring concept moving forward for development. 

Table 2Concept Scoring Matrix Example

Product Development Phase: 

Develop the initial CAD models of the entire system, its sub-systems and its components while considering material requirements, manufacturability, off-the-shelf components, cost estimates and potential supply chains. 

Execute experimental loading of critical components utilising CAD simulation analysis (FEA). Evaluate the results of all key structural components and modify the design as required to achieve the target load rating for the overall system. The target load rating for the welding positioner was 5 ton and included a factor of safety (FOS) of 5.   

Figure 3 Initial FEA simulation results on the positioners frame subassembly 

Detailed design phase: 

Where necessary, amend the CAD models by applying the learnings from the product development phase – it is important here to once more consider manufacturing and assembly considerations before finalising the design as this can save time redesigning components or subsystems at a later stage. Identify various material and off-the-shelf component requirements to manufacture the system and undertake a value engineering exercise to review the value for money of the final design. Conduct a hazard and safety evaluation analysis to ensure that all health and safety concerns are captured and mitigated against. Finally, create working drawings and write the final specifications for the system. 

Manufacture, assembly and testing of prototypes: 

Begin the process of manufacturing and assembling the beta prototype based on the detailed design drawing. Once the design has been complete, execute physical load testing on the prototypes key performance attributes to confirm that the system performs as per the URS. Execute extensive field trials with involvement of key stakeholders and request feedback on the systems performance and ergonomics. Review the feedback provided and, if necessary, implementation any potential improvements to the design. 

Figure 4 – Manufacturing of the Beta Prototype 

Why use PEM Technology Gateway? 

Researchers in the PEM Technology Gateway can provide technical engineering solutions that allow companies to develop new products, processes, or services right across the full product lifecycle, with specialisation in design for manufacture (DFMA) in precision engineering and manufacturing sectors. 

If you would like to learn more or speak to a PEM Technology Gateway researcher, please contact 

Autonomous Mobile Robots Evaluation Lab at COMAND

The COMAND Technology Gateway at TUS: Midlands provides industry-specific technology solutions for business across a variety of media channels. It is heavily focused on the research and development of future interactive media technologies, with a particular emphasis in cross-platform software, mobile media clouds, AR/VR applications, and Internet of Things interoperability. COMAND’s goal is to transfer these technologies to industry to maximize commercial benefit.  

Anthony Cunningham, COMAND Gateway Manager, refers to the gateway as a ‘leading open access point for Industry providing companies with the opportunity to avail of collaborative expertise in all sectors of connected media applications delivery’. The Gateway team works closely with industrial collaborators in all sectors of connected media applications delivery and collaborates with companies ranging in size from start-ups and SMEs to multinationals and are known to have vast expertise assisting  industry and academic partners worldwide. 

“Test before Invest” labs 

The range of expertise available at COMAND has seen a number of “Test before Invest” labs being established. These labs funded by Enterprise Ireland, cover a range of digitalization technologies, including a unique robotics training facility, in collaboration with SFI Confirm Centre for smart manufacturing, as well as an Industry 4.0 production line, Immersive eXtended Reality suite, and high-performance Edge / Cloud computing devices.  

Autonomous Mobile Robots Evaluation lab 

Based within the Software Research Institute (SRI) in TUS Midlands, the Autonomous Mobile Robots Evaluation lab is outfitted with cutting-edge technology, including several autonomous mobile robots (AMR), robotic arm top modules for AMRs, top cart systems, top roller systems, humanoid robots, and fleet management software. The AMRs have the ability to comprehend their surroundings, manoeuvre around fixed or changeable obstacles, and complete their jobs in the most efficient way possible thanks to enhanced sensors and Artificial Intelligence (AI) software.  

The installation of AMRs can offer companies rapid implementation, modularized deployment, enhanced operational flexibility, and operational safety. Whilst applications of such may include supply chain and logistics automation, healthcare and medtechs, mobile humanoid service robotics interacting with humans in a variety of social and commercial scenarios, and fleet management of multiple mobile robots. 

According to Anthony ‘the new Autonomous Mobile Robots Evaluation Lab allows companies to gain an understanding of the use and benefits of AMR technology and its combination with other technologies, e.g. AI, AR/VR and 5G, and to evaluate the application of the technologies for their own use prior to investment.  

Anthony encourages companies who may have this particular industry need to get in touch with the Gateway and highlights that by ‘choosing to collaborate with COMAND, companies will be provided with the required expertise, knowledge and support to trial domain specific applications; educate/train industry staff; and demo their applications in a cost effect manner’ 

For more information on COMAND Technology Gateway please contact the COMAND Gateway Manager, Anthony Cunningham, see contact details below:

 Phone number: +353 90 648 3096 



Twitter: @aitsri 

UX Research Work Placement at Nimbus

Since completing his degree in Creative Digital Media in June 2022, Kevin Smith joined the Nimbus Gateway User Experience (UX) team for the summer of 2022 to observe, learn and contribute to the many Industry projects that flow through the Nimbus UX lab. The UX team benefited greatly through a 2019 Enterprise Ireland capital call that provided an optimum user experience design environment that has impressed and benefitted many Nimbus Gateway industry clients since.  

For this blog the UX team decided to hand the reins to Kevin to account for his experience working with the Nimbus Gateway. The following is an extract from his experience report.  

Having just finished my degree, I was poised to take the summer off, to relax and take the time I thought I needed. Eventually, I made the decision to forgo this plan and, instead, pursue an internship with the UX team at Nimbus. Now, as I wrap up my placement, I can say, wholeheartedly, it was a great decision to make. In my short time with the team, I’ve learned so much, grown so much, and got the chance to experience many facets of UX design. 

The transition into the workplace was aided by the flexible and hybrid model that the Nimbus team are currently using. I really appreciated both the ability to work from home in an environment that was comfortable and familiar, while also getting the benefits of direct face-to-face contact with my co-workers and colleagues. This meant I wasn’t constrained to just one or the other, and as a result, stressful commutes were minimized and productivity was maximized. It provided me with the opportunity to see how the role of a UX designer is going to evolve in the future with this hybrid model that seems to be working great for all the team. 

This is all without mention of the colleagues and co-workers I have been working under this summer. Before, this internship I had no real concept of what a UX office would be and I am incredibly grateful to have been surrounded by such great examples of professionals in the field to aspire to. It was great to be able to learn by observing them go about their work activities. In college, we are taught about the theory of UX and exercises in isolation for developing solutions but it is rare that we actually have the bandwidth to do much implementation. But being able to watch how these techniques and heuristics are applied before being asked to do it myself was a great way to put the theory I had learned into practice. I always appreciated the framework of expectations set for me. I was asked to watch and observe how an activity was carried out with a client-facing project and afterwards, expected and trusted to deliver on my own. I was doing real work that was being implemented into final UX solutions something that was never lost on me throughout the internship. I was given the responsibility to be able to rise to the job given to me and my colleagues made it clear they were confident I could do it.

Given that all of my co-workers were graduates of my course they were able to tie these tasks in directly with my college work which meant that the act of bridging the gap between the academic and professional worlds a lot more manageable. They were also able to identify the gaps in my knowledge coming out of the course and see what skills I would need for this role but hadn’t been given the opportunity to learn.  

That meant I was given the space for the first week or so of the internship to spend time easing myself into client-work while upskilling in software like Figma. Even little things like seeing how co-workers set boundaries with clients on the amount of work that could be done was something I previously would have had no concept of how to do but now that I have been shown that framework I am confident I could do it myself. 

In addition to seeing how my new colleagues worked and interacted within a professional environment, it was great to be able to interact with them as academics. I’ve had an interest in academia for a number of years now and have even been supported in this interest by some of my previous lecturers. I would love to become a lecturer in the future but have long resisted the reality that getting a PhD would entail. That being said, my attitude has changed now having been around so many people actively working on theirs. In particular, many of them are being supervised by that same lecturer who had advised me to undertake one myself. Whereas before I would have avoided the prospect of undertaking a PhD for fear that it would absorb my life and stunt my professional growth, now, having discussed it with colleagues I feel more confident that both the professional and the academic can be juggled.  

I am also now more aware of some of the potential pitfalls of undertaking such a line of academic pursuits but if nothing else, I am now armed with far more knowledge to be able to make a more informed decision when it is time to do so. But most of all I really appreciated the sheer variety of projects I got to work on at my time in Nimbus. In just 3 short months, I got to work on projects in fintech, business management, memory collection, etc. It allowed me to really get to grips with the diversity of projects a UX designer would be working on. It also meant that I was never bored which was great. I could always switch between one or a couple of projects to keep myself moving along. 

All and all I had a fantastic time as an intern on the UX team at Nimbus. I got to touch so many different projects, meet so many different people and got to do real work that would be implemented and see the light of day. I’m sad to leave the team behind but I’m hoping it’s not the last they’ll see of me. I look forward to strengthening my relationship with them and Nimbus as a whole as step into the next phase of my career as a MSc student.  

For further information about the Nimbus Gateway’s UX team please refer to or email Nimbus Gateway manager All good projects have good UX design. 

Team pictured includes:  

(Back row): Andrew De Juan, Kevin Smith, Kevin O’Mahony. (Front row) Moya Cronin, Sarah Hayes, Michelle O’Keeffe, Denise Heffernan.  

Innovative IoT R&D for Irish Industry

Enterprise Ireland’s Applied Internet of Things Cluster (Applied IoT) is one of the three Technology Gateway clusters within the Network. Collaboration with Applied IoT can open up numerous opportunities for Irish businesses. Those who choose to work with the cluster can take advantage of the extensive interconnected resources available within the member Gateways including access to a diverse range of equipment housed in Ireland’s Technological Universities and Institutes of Technology. 

Companies and individuals can leverage the cluster’s R&D resources to create new and innovative ways of implementing IoT technology to solve existing problems and generate new ideas. The cluster’s five Gateways have expertise in areas such as sensors, communications, networks, software, machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI), augmented/virtual reality (AR/VR), and data analytics across a wide range of industries, including agriculture, construction, healthcare, transportation, communications, energy, and pharmaceutical. Since 2013 many companies have benefited from the cluster’s extensive experience in delivering near-market solutions during their product-to-market journey.  To see more on previous success stories and projects check out their case studies and discover more about the Gateways below.  


The COMAND Technology Gateway, based in TUS (Midlands), provides software industry-focused technology solutions across different media platforms. The Gateway focuses on the research and development of future interactive media technologies such as cross-platform applications, mobile media cloud, 3D sensing, and Internet of Things interoperability. These technologies are complementary and, when combined, provide the opportunity for new and innovative forms of “connected media” – personalised, real-time, interactive applications – in a wide range of commercial fields such as communications, gaming, TV, e-health, e-learning, e-tourism, e-retailing, entertainment, and digital marketing. 


  • Cloud media platform: leverage media processing in the cloud and end user 
  • Media systems: intelligent and cross-platform multimodal development 
  • User interfaces: multimodal interfacing 
  • Real-time data analytics 
  • Interoperability of the Internet of Things (IoT) 

Case Study: 

Read how COMAND developed multiple apps from a single code template in collaboration with TownApps, a Midlands-based SME, that creates smartphone apps tailored to certain cities in Ireland, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Canada. The TownApps application is a tourist guide that includes hotels, restaurants, and points of interest. Read more here


The IMaR Technology Gateway located in MTU Kerry uses its core competencies in electronics, mechatronics, automation technologies, software, IoT, RFID, and data analytics to fulfill the needs of enterprise process and product innovation. In addition to a number of other disciplines, IMaR specializes in embedded systems, intelligent and connected smart sensors and devices, automation and robotics, process monitoring and analytics, and many more areas. The gateway focuses on offering cutting-edge solutions to business and industry, whether through improved operational efficiency or the development of new products. 


  • Embedded systems  
  • Intelligent and connected smart sensors and devices  
  • Internet of Things (IoT)  
  • Automation and robotics  
  • RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) technologies  
  • Process monitoring and analytics  

 Case Study: 

Read how IMaR partnered with Marksmanship Technology Limited to develop The World’s First Wearable Marksmanship Coach wearable device. This technological tool detects and analyzes movement during sports activities offering real-time feedback. The company is currently creating a revolutionary wearable product. Read more here


The Nimbus Gateway, situated at MTU Cork, serves as the Nimbus group’s industry interface. The Gateway develops technology that fulfill the demands of business, society, and the general public. Internet of Things (IoT) and Cyber Physical System prototypes are created by Nimbus for a variety of businesses, connecting and smartening ordinary objects and systems.  Through excellence in research, industry, and education, Nimbus Research Centre improves and supports communities, while also adding economic value to industry and providing sustainable solutions to societal concerns. 


  • Electronics/hardware  
  • Sensor devices and systems  
  • Mechanical design  
  • Miniaturisation  
  • Networks and wireless communications  
  • Software  
  • Data analytics  
  • Systems integration, controls and optimisation tools  
  • UX (User Experience) & UI (User Interface)  
  • Virtual and augmented reality  

 Case Study: 

Find out how Nimbus is in the process of developing Modern AI-driven applications with Cyberlink Security to defend IoT networks against malware threats. Due to the absence of security measures around IoT networks and the growing number of online attacks, the challenge is to create a smart cybersecurity platform that can adapt to evolving threats. Read more here.


The TSSG Gateway based in SETU Waterford provides industry with access to cutting-edge knowledge and solutions in advanced mobile services and service enablers.  As the commercial interface of the Walton Institute, TSSG can assist with the creation of technological solutions relevant to all types of products and services, providing knowledge throughout the whole development process. TSSG have particular expertise in all aspects of mobile networks and communications platforms and services, delivering software technology solutions through collaboration on projects which are close to the market needs of the Irish industry. 


  • Mobile Services 
  • Virtual Reality  
  • Planning 
  • Analysis 
  • Design 
  • Implementation 
  • Testing and Integration 
  • Maintenance 

 Case Study: 

Discover how Oracle VR Ltd approached TSSG to explore the idea of a VR based prototype targeted for use with second level Transition Year students in Ireland. This investigation would include a review of existing hardware with recommendations for possible devices which could be targeted for prototype deployment. Read more here:  


The WiSAR Gateway, situated in ATU Donegal provides Internet of Things (IoT) solutions to Irish industry by leveraging expertise in wireless, embedded systems, and power electronics. WiSAR is home to an extensive team of researchers and engineers working on a wide range of collaborative R&D industry projects and is equipped with a state-of-the-art test bench, connectivity devices, industrial sensors, antennae and digital controllers, for the design of prototypes and the optimisation of industrial processes. The Gateway facilitates the distribution of a variety of products and system solutions across numerous industry sectors, including Industry 4.0, Renewable Energy, Medtech, Agritech, and ICT. 


  • Wireless Solutions 
  • The Internet of Things (IoT) 
  • Health Monitoring 
  • Remote monitoring 
  • Power Electronics 
  • Communications 
  • Wearable Tech 
  • Industrial Control    

 Case Study: 

Read how WiSAR collaborated with Grain Water Ltd on the development of a cost – efficient PCB prototype for their innovative micro-scale anaerobic digester (MyGug). The product improves waste management by turning organic matter into renewable fuel. Read more here.  

For more information on Applied IoT including industry projects and case studies check out the Applied IoT webpage, follow on Twitter or subscribe to our YouTube channel

Digestate from Anaerobic Digestion – solution to fertiliser crisis?

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently published Research 375: Development of Quality Standards for Compost and Digestate1 in Ireland in May. This study developed a quality standard for digestate and an updated standard for compost, and recommends a strategy on how Ireland should implement national end-of-waste criteria for compost and digestate, since there are no national end-of-waste criteria for compost and digestate derived from source separated materials in Ireland.

Moreover, recent European Union (EU) circular economy and bioeconomy policies and the New European Green Deal promote the recycling of nutrients from organic wastes into products that can be used as soil improvers and fertilizers, created a renewed interest in the use of compost and digestate.

But what is digestate and why it is becoming a trending topic in Ireland?

Due to the increased prices of petrochemical fuels, and the simultaneous impact of fossil fuels on greenhouse gas emissions contributing to global warming, the world is searching for alternative renewable energy sources. Renewable energy is derived from natural sources and are replenished at a higher rate than they are consumed at, and includes sources such as solar, wind, hydro, geothermal and biomass. Research has shown that biomass energy has the highest capability amongst other renewable sources.

Anaerobic digestion is the most traditional method used to generate energy from renewable biomass sources. It was originally highlighted by Alessandro Volta in 1776 and has grown immensely since the 1970s. Anaerobic digestion is a collection of processes by which microorganisms break down biodegradable material in the absence of oxygen. The process is used for industrial or domestic purposes to manage waste and/or to produce fuels. The process produces biogas (consisting of methane, carbon dioxide, and traces of other gases), where the biogas can be used directly as fuel, and/or in combined heat and power gas engines. It has many advantages compared to other processes such as re-use of waste as a resource, producing carbon-free biofuel and replacing fossil fuels and eliminating the energy footprint of waste treatment plants.

Last but not least, there is one more benefit of anaerobic digestion processes – the digestate. Digestate is a by-product of anaerobic digestion processes, and is a nutrient-rich substance that can be used as a fertiliser. It consists of left over indigestible material and dead micro-organisms that is 90% liquid (liquid digestate) and 10% solid (solid digestate). The solid digestate can be employed similarly to compost or can potentially be composted with other organic residues, which can be more economically conveyed over larger distances than liquid material. This separation allows for the treatment or valorization of each fraction by mechanical, physicochemical or biological means.

Figure 1. Anaerobic digestion process

As an increasingly favourable alternative to slurry spreading, digestate spreading has proven itself to be a great organic fertiliser that offers valuable nutrients that can vastly improve soil quality resulting in a potentially increased output of healthier crops. The practice of land application of digestate can improve the health of the soil by increasing organic matter content, reducing the need to apply chemical fertilizers and pesticides (where chemical fertilizer causes an increase in pests and kills the beneficial microbes present in the soil), improving plant growth, reducing soil erosion and nutrient runoff, alleviating soil compaction, and helping increase the soil’s water holding ability, which reduces the need for irrigation. Analysis shows that an impressive 80% of the total nitrogen in food-based digestate is present as readily available nitrogen. This high level of availability means that digestate can be used as a direct replacement for ‘bagged’ nitrogen fertiliser. Digestion of livestock slurry will typically increase availability of the nitrogen in the slurry by around 10%. Moreover, digestate contains useful amounts of phosphate and potash, together with small quantities of other nutrients and trace elements to help maintain soil fertility, which makes digestate an amazing alternative to chemical fertilizers.

If digestate is directly discharged to water, it may cause eutrophication (ie harmful algal blooms, dead zones, and fish kills) due to its high nutrient content, and may cause other issues such as odour emission, toxic organic compounds, pathogens and phytotoxicity (ie adverse effects on plant growth, physiology, or metabolism) if directly used on soil; therefore, a quality standard for digestate is a necessity.

When anaerobic digestates are added into soils, different nitrogen forms are either absorbed by plant root cells, or adsorbed onto negatively charged soil particles, or oxidized by microorganisms. Best management practices that can be employed to alleviate nutrient leaching includes: alteration of digestate nutrient supply to crop demand and soil tests, synchronization of nutrient release with crop developmental demand, cultivation against slopes, avoidance of fall applications, lengthly period gaps between digestate employment and sowing, and applications that undertaken before heavy rains.

The microbiological status of the output digestate is dependant on the quality of the input biomass and on the configuration characteristics of the digester such as pre-treatment (pasteurisation), digestion temperature, pH, nitrogen concentration. The tenacity of various pathogens in digestates can be explained by the presence of bacteria species possessing the ability to form protective coatings (spores). These spore-formers are not eradicated during the anaerobic digestion process and regrowth of pathogens and their spores is possible in storage facilities. Stabilization of digestates through post-treatment measures such as curing and composting substantially decreases the risk they pose to human health and the environment. Typical nitrogen and phosphorus concentrations range between 5 and 15 kg N/ ton and 0.1 and 1 kg P/ ton respectively in cattle and chicken manure. These nutrients remain in the digestate after anaerobic digestion and, following an adequate treatment, can be recovered in a concentrated form of which can be easily transported.

The composition of digestates differs extensively with regards to the feedstock, inoculum source, and operating conditions of AD (e.g., temperature, pH, hydraulic retention time). It can be abundant in a number of macro nutrients (e.g. N, P, K, S, Mg, Ca, Fe, and Na) and may also comprise of a number of trace elements (e.g. Co, Fe, Se, Mo and Ni) either as a result of the initial biomass used or becaue of supplementation, addition of trace elements for enhanced digester performance. The great amounts of potentially toxic effluents, due to the presence of non-biodegradable compounds such as recalcitrant organic molecules, high ammonia concentration, and heavy metals that become available, together with the rising storage and transportation expenses, lead to the requirement of implementation of appropriate management practices. Generally, the initial step of each digestate treatment procedure involves the physical solid–liquid separation. Normally, 40 to 86% of the organic matter is present in the solid fraction, while the liquid phase is comprised of a low organic matter content. The solid fraction contains approximately 75% of phosphorus, which is directly absorbed or trapped with calcium, magnesium, and nitrogen. The digestate liquid is categorized by low organic matter and phosphorus concentrations, counterbalanced by increased potassium and nitrogen concentrations (up to 80% in the form of ammonium). Typically, the resulting solid manure high in dry matter (DM) and the liquid manure low in DM obtained is directly employed as fertilizer (Table 1).


Table 1 : Parameters of digestates and liquid fraction.

In conclusion, there is a wide range of anaerobic digestates whose composition and nutrient content depend upon the nature of the source of the biomass (such as cattle manure, livestock manure, agricultural residues, organic solid wastes, sewage sludges, dairy manure, food wastes, and landscape wastes) and the digestion process. The digestate, which is plentiful in valuable nutrients, can therefore be directly employed as a renewable fertilizer due to its contents of stable organic carbon and nutrients. Cosidering current inceasing costs for fertiliser products, AD is an exciting technology to addres this need, along with enery production and waste utilisation. When an excess of nutrients occurs in a given region, the digestate can be further treated to recover nutrients in concentrated forms, allowing them to be translocated at sustainable prices in various agricultural areas. However, a key environmental concern with land application of digestates is the potential contamination of surface and ground waters, alongside the eutrophication of water bodies with abundant volumes of nitrogen and phosphorus. Therefore, it is essential for Ireland to have an informed policy and develop solutions for digestate in future. For more details, please see “Research 375: Development of Quality Standards for Compost and Digestate”1.

1 Development of Quality Standards for Compost and Digestate report:

Technology Gateways in your region: South

Research and Innovation can often seem like a daunting task, particularly if you are a startup or an SME. If you are unsure which direction to take or how to start the process, help is at hand with Enterprise Ireland Technology Gateways. Our Network of 16 Gateways collaborates with Irish companies, of all sizes, to develop innovative solutions for products, processes or services. So, if you are a company that is looking to explore or expand your research, development and innovation options or are ready to take the first step in your innovation journey, Technology Gateways are here to help.

The information provided below is a guide to the Gateway innovation and expertise that is available to businesses in the South (and those further afield)

The region is home to four Technology Gateways, based in the Munster Technological University (MTU) offering specialisations such as Intelligent Mechatronics & RFID, Applied Biotechnology, Embedded Computing & Software Systems and Photonics.


Shannon ABC Technology Gateway (Applied Biotechnology)  
MTU – Kerry Campus & TUS Midwest 

Shannon ABC Technology Gateway is co-located on the MTU (Kerry) and TUS: Midwest campuses and is a leader in bioresource research – detection, identification, characterisation and valorisation. The Gateway collaborates with industry and other research centres in order to deliver this expertise in applied settings.  

Shannon ABC Gateway delivers solutions to scientific and technical challenges faced by industry, by developing new processes and products from bio-resources. The Gateway develops state-of-the-art processes, using ingredients and biological products from natural resources. The results of these processes are delivered to companies in the Agriculture, Bioeconomy, Biotechnology, Cosmetics, Environmental, Food & Drink, Health, Marine and Pharmaceutical sectors. 

The Gateway has developed and continues to expand an extensive biological repository of extracts and organisms derived from wide ranging sources and processes. 


  • Analytical capabilities 
  • Bioeconomy 
  • Bioprospecting 
  • Bioprocessing 
  • Cell culture 
  • Food & Drink 
  • Fungal Biotechnology 
  • Microalgal Biotechnology 
  • Plant Biotechnology 

IMar Technology Gateway (Intelligent Mechatronics & RFID)  
MTU – Kerry Campus 

IMaR Technology Gateway, based in MTU (Kerry), applies its core expertise in electronics, mechatronics, automation technologies, software, IoT, RFID and data analytics to address process and product innovation requirements of enterprises.  

IMaR specializes in embedded systems, intelligent and connected smart sensors and devices, automation and robotics, process monitoring and analytics. Offering a range of services to industry such as technical project development and specification, technical product audit, prototype/proof of concept development, technical consultancy and industry collaborations, as well as assistance in sourcing funding for research and development projects. 


  • Embedded systems 
  • Intelligent and connected smart sensors and devices 
  • Internet of Things (IoT) 
  • Automation and robotics 
  • RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) technologies 
  • Process monitoring and analytics 

NIMBUS Technology Gateway (Embedded Computing & Software Systems)  
MTU – Cork Campus 

Nimbus Technology Gateway, based in MTU (Cork), is the industry interface for the Nimbus group. The Gateway develops Internet of Things (IoT) and Cyber Physical System prototypes for a broad range of companies, connecting everyday objects and systems and making them smart. The Nimbus Research Centre is at the forefront of cyber-physical systems (CPS) and Internet of Things (IoT) research, innovation and learning, developing technologies that address the real needs of industry, people and society. 

Nimbus Gateway provides businesses with innovative software, hardware, technical research, development and innovation support. The Gateway acts as a resource to bring innovative business ideas to life, acting as an extension of the company’s research and development capability. 


  • Electronics/hardware 
  • Sensor devices and systems 
  • Mechanical design 
  • Miniaturisation 
  • Networks and wireless communications 
  • Software 
  • Data analytics 
  • Systems integration, controls and optimisation tools 
  • UX (User Experience) & UI (User Interface) 
  • Virtual and augmented reality 

Cappa Technology Gateway (Innovation through Light)  
MTU – Cork campus 

CAPPA Technology Gateway is a research centre based in MTU (Cork) conducting both applied and fundamental research on photonics for applications in areas as diverse as telecommunications, medical devices, food, beverage and pharmaceutical manufacturing. CAPPA Gateway works in the area of photonics generation and manipulation of light, and a major strand of the Gateways activities focuses on bringing the benefits of photonics technology to a diverse range of industry partners. 

The Gateway applies photonics solutions to industry in a wide range of sectors, including medical devices and technologies, pharmaceutical manufacturing, food & beverage technologies and electronics and telecommunications. 

CAPPA’s researchers have a strong track record of engagement with industry. Focusing on a wide variety of sectors including Medical Devices & Technologies, Pharmaceuticals, Electronics and Food Technology.  


  • New photonics devices 
  • Medtech & pharmaceuticals 
  • Food & beverages 
  • Manufacturing technologies 
  • Devices & Sensors 

For additional information on Technology Gateways or previous projects, check out the Network page and case studies section. 



Learn the basics of virtual & augmented reality technologies at ‘Introduction to AR/VR’ workshop

Irish companies can now learn the basics of virtual and augmented reality technologies and how they can be practically applied to their organisation. On Wednesday 28th September, the TSSG Technology Gateway at Walton Institute will host an informative and interactive introduction to mixed reality technologies at their 1-day workshop in their Mixed Reality Lab based in the SETU Waterford West Campus.  

Funded by Enterprise Ireland, the lab boasts state-of-the-art mixed and interactive technologies allowing practical demonstrations to companies interested in applying these practices to their own products and services.  

On the day, participants will receive an overview of the Metaverse, an introduction to VR hardware, learn more about the use of object photogrammetry in digital twin and industry 4.0 practices all with a focus on use cases and gaining hands on experience. 

The Workshop 

9:30 – 10:00 Arrival and Orientation. 

10:00 – 11:00 Introduction to AR/VR 

11:00 – 11:15 Break* 

11:15 – 12:15 Introduction to Mobile AR and MR technology 

12:15 – 13:15 Lunch* 

13:15 – 14:00 Object Photogrammetry and VR focus 

14:00 – 14:10 Tour of Digital Photogrammetry Lab 

14:10 – 15:10 Introduction to VR 

15:10 – 15:20 Break* 

15:20 – 15:50 Discussion of attendee identified business cases & Plenary 

*Refreshments included 

Mixed Reality Lab 

Companies and individuals who need to run simulations or test prototypes now have access to a state-of-the-art, mixed reality testbed lab and research team at SETU Waterford West Campus. 

The new facility allows clients see how mixed reality can transform education, training and awareness and monitor movement, immersion and interaction through a variety of technologies, including wireless headsets, a VR treadmill, 360-degree video capture, live performance and acoustic capture, physiological sensing and eye tracking equipment and so much more. 

The Trainer 

Stephen Barnes is an experienced software researcher at Walton Institute. Since joining Walton in 2016, Stephen has specialized in Augmented and Virtual Reality applications. He has completed projects for a variety of industry verticals including: AEC, virtual heritage, retail logistics, sports rehabilitation as well as education and training. 

His background includes degrees in Electronic Engineering as well as Applied Social Studies, a Higher Diploma in Science in Computing and a postgraduate certificate in Education. Stephen was an ICT and Media Studies Teacher at Tendring Technology College in the UK as well as a registered tutor with DCU and YWCA in Vancouver, Canada. In addition to his teaching experience, Stephen has also created training materials for Social Care practitioners. 

TSSG Technology Gateway 

The TSSG (Telecommunications Software & Systems Group) Technology Gateway, based in the Walton Institute at SETU Waterford, is a research and innovation centre for industry to access cutting-edge knowledge and solutions in advanced mobiles services and software service enablers.  

TSSG Gateway develops technology to bring a business idea to reality. As part of the Technology Gateway Network funded by Enterprise Ireland, it is the commercial interface of Walton Institute. As an advanced software R&D Centre with particular expertise in all aspects of mobile networks and communications platforms and services, their role is to deliver software technology solutions through collaboration on projects which are close to the market needs of the Irish industry. 

For more information on this workshop, and other tailored training courses in mixed reality, contact 

To avail of a group discount email 

Date: 28th September 

Time: 9.30am – 16.30pm 


PEM works with award-winning Agritech company Cotter Agritech Ltd.

Cotter Agritech has developed the award-winning Cotter Crate and SmartWorm app, an innovative hardware and software solution to help sheep farmers reduce handling time and labour costs, and tackle worm resistance via reducing wormer use by approximately 40%, and by identifying worm resilient replacements.


Developed by founders Nick and Jack Cotter who grew up on the family organic sheep farm encouraging them to be curious and innovative. The brothers are serial entrepreneurs having founded 2 previous businesses. The first business Cotter Bros Firewood was founded in 2011, when Nick was 11 and Jack was 13. This has grown into an industry-leading domestic firewood producer selling nationwide. The 2nd business, Cotter Organic Lamb, was started in 2019, which direct sells the organic lamb produced on the home farm, which has won several Irish Quality Food Awards and featured on The Late Late Show in 2020.

Nick is currently studying Law and Business at UCC and is going into his final year. He is a 2019 UCC Quercus Innovation Scholar, and a 2022 Nuffield Scholar. Jack is studying Process and Engineering Management in Limerick Institute of Technology and holds degrees in Agricultural Mechanisation and Agricultural Engineering. Both Jack and Nick were named in the Sunday Independents 2020 Top 30 Under 30 Entrepreneurs.

The brothers have won several awards to date with the Cotter Agritech venture including Best Overall Start-up at the Enterprise Ireland Innovation Arena Awards 2019 and Best Sustainable Innovation at the 2020 RDS Spring Awards. Nick represented Ireland and Europe in the Global Student Entrepreneur Awards 2022 and became Global Champion pitching the Cotter Agritech business.

Cotter Crate

The Cotter Crate is a sheep handling crate that makes carrying out stock management tasks, for both lambs and adult sheep, quick, easy, and safe, including dosing, vaccinating, tagging, dagging, weighing, mouthing, body condition scoring, and 3-way drafting. Developed by sheep farming brothers Jack and Nick Cotter, the Cotter Crate was created having recognised the industry’s need for a handling system that focuses on making lamb handling easier and caters to adult sheep. The result is a simple to use system, where the animal is comfortably held under its own weight at operator height, without any pressure being applied, resulting in a calm handling experience for both handler and livestock and reducing animal handling time by up to 50%.






SmartWorm App

The Cotter Crate integrates with the SmartWorm app, which uniquely enables sheep farmers to move to more sustainable, targeted selective worming of sheep based on an advanced algorithm to help tackle drug resistance. The advanced algorithm identifies which animals will/won’t benefit from a wormer treatment in real time. The algorithm calculates a lamb’s potential growth based on several factors including weight gain, rainfall, temperature, pasture availability and pasture quality. It gives each lamb an individual target and if lambs are not reaching this target, it recommends treating the animal for worms. This enables a farmer to reduce their drug use by 40% without any impact to animal performance. The algorithm has been validated in research projects with the UCD Lyons Farm and Queens University Belfast.

Collaboration with PEM Technology Gateway

Cotter Agritech approached PEM Technology Gateway to provide technical assistance from an engineering point of view to achieve cost reduction ahead of the Cotter Crate launch. Utilising the Enterprise Ireland Innovation Voucher Scheme, the company sought assistance from PEM to study the crate in its current state to identify and design changes that could be made to the crate’s design to improve/simplify/achieve cost reduction. This was key to achieving an affordable, robust, highly mobile product with a lifespan of 10+ years on-farm, therefore improving value proposition

Technical assistance from PEM helped Cotter Agritech to reach a go-to-market prototype of their sheep handling crate. Under the 1st Innovation voucher, work was focused on the on and off ramps in the product and achieved 30% cost reduction and 23% weight reduction on those 2 parts of the 3-part product.

The 2nd innovation voucher sought assistance to achieve a similar level of cost reduction on the main crate, which is the other element of the 3-part product. PEM evaluated the current design and suggested and implemented suitable measures to reduce manufacturing cost. This work was essential as the product was currently too expensive to make.

Manufacturing Solutions

The structures presented to PEM were complicated, heavy, and expensive to manufacture. PEM redesigned the 2 ramps to be lighter, have fewer parts and be more manufacturable. The parts also have more consistency regarding material and dimensions which has reduced manufacturing costs.

Specific offramp design improvements:

  • Significantly improved drafting mechanism (lighter, simpler, reduced cost, fewer parts, less force required to operate)
  • Improved gate structure (better rigidity, stronger, more straight forward assembly,)
  • Various other modifications to achieve overall goal of being lighter, simpler to manufacture, and at a reduced cost with less parts involved

Specific Onramp design improvements:

  • Implementation of tabbing and slotting technique to make assembly far more efficient
  • Significant simplification of floor design
  • Complete overall of anti-backing design from scratch, significantly reducing manufacturing costs and weight

Product Launch

PEM through the two Innovation vouchers assisted the company in achieving an affordable, robust, highly mobile product with a lifespan of 10+ years on-farm, therefore significantly improving value proposition and enabling them to achieve a launch of the product in Ireland and the UK, which was held at the Lamma Agri Show in Birmingham in May 2022.

Launch at Lamma Agri Show

Headline improvements delivered by PEM Technology Gateway:

  • 22% weight reduction in onramp
  • 23% weight reduction in offramp
  • 30% reduction in manufacturing cost of 2 ramps
  • Other criteria achieved: more manufacturable, easier to operate, making the parts more consistent, more robust, and reliable.

Since the launch Cotter Agritech have completed €120k in pre-sales to date, and currently closing more deals with clients including the Royal Veterinary College. Other achievements have included presenting the innovation at the Sheep Veterinary Society Conference, coverage with the Farmers Journal & Farmer Guardian, and winning a Royal Highland Show Technical Innovation Award for the crate. Nick was also selected to represent Ireland with Cotter Agritech for the 2022 Global Student Entrepreneur Awards. Out of over 1,000 participants worldwide, Nick reached the Top 60, then Top 18 and finally made it to the grand final of 6 participants, being the only representative from Europe. Nick went on to become Global Champion with the idea, winning $40,000 for Cotter Agritech.

See the Crate in use in the links below:

  • Global student entrepreneur awards video –
  • Rhidian Glyn testimonial of the Cotter Crate system –
  • Brian Nicholson testimonial –
  • Video of crate in action –