The scanning procedure closes the vulnerabilities

Customs, construction, medicine and health
The scanning procedure closes the vulnerabilities



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Digital transformation solutions in the mechanical engineering environment: Estonia, as the most digital country in the world, is open to cooperation with German companies. An example of the spirit of innovation: muon tomography with algorithms powered by artificial intelligence.

GScan technology

(Photo: GScan)

Medicines, fireworks, branded products, works of art and antiques – belong to products that are subject to transport and import restrictions or certain proprietary rights. Counterfeit drugs expose consumers to health risks, and counterfeit goods and product piracy cause enormous damage to the economy. In the EU alone, the damage to producers is estimated at EUR 60 billion per year.

In the gigantic international flow of goods, authorities can only control a small fraction of the cargo, and an even smaller fraction of illegal goods is detected by customs. The most commonly used technology to scan everything from vans and trucks to railroad cars is gamma and X-ray radiography. It reaches its technical limits as it only recognizes limited materials or only achieves low throughput.

The EU’s Silentborder project is currently developing a new high-tech muon tomography scanner. This imaging method represents high-volume objects in 3D using muons of cosmic rays. A muon is an elementary particle that is similar to an electron in many ways. Muon tomography is considered the most modern technology in charge control. While the scanning process with x-ray scanners takes 20 to 30 minutes, the new technology will be around 10 times faster.

This technique was used, among others to explore the Egyptian pyramids for unknown tomb chambers. Cosmic muons are highly penetrating, have an average energy of 10,000 times that of typical X-rays, and are virtually non-absorbable.

The scanner uses naturally occurring secondary cosmic rays. It enables safe and quick scanning of cargo holds, recognition and identification of dangerous and illegal goods, smuggled goods and even people hidden in containers. Distinguishes between different materials and locates them within the load. Customs authorities can then react in a targeted manner.

A multinational EU project in Estonia

Several European countries are involved in the silent border project with research institutions, universities and industrial partners, including Germany with the German Aviation Center or Italy and Belgium. The place of development of complex technology is Estonia, which is involved in the project together with the University of Tartu and the company GScan from the Estonian capital Tallinn. GScan developed and initiated the concept of establishing Silentborder as a project.

Hannes Plinte, CEO of GScan
Hannes Plinte, CEO of GScan

(Photo: GScan)

As a technology company, GScan develops detectors and tomography technology that uses only natural ambient radiation. “The scanner will surpass existing systems by using innovative, high-performance algorithms combined with artificial intelligence to identify materials,” says Hannes Plinte, CEO of GScan. After field testing, the new tomograph will be ready for product development and commercialization, such as first use in customs, construction for reinforced concrete safety testing, healthcare and medical tomography.

Scintillation fibers for the detection of muons and electrons from natural cosmic rays.
Scintillation fibers for the detection of muons and electrons from natural cosmic rays.

(Photo: GScan)

“With a multi-functional passive scanner, we will close a major security gap in the fast and reliable inspection of a large number of freight items,” continues Hannes Plinte. “The detection capability relies on high-precision particle tracking sensors combined with state-of-the-art tomographic reconstruction and material classification algorithms for data analysis.”

The most digital country in the world

Estonia sees itself as having a strong competitive advantage as a location for the development of such a complex technology. The country has a 150-year tradition in mechanical engineering and a strong base of basic and computer science coupled with a very modern manufacturing industry. In addition, the degree of digitization has gone so far that the competition is a leader in implementing Industry 4.0 solutions.

Leana Kammertöns, Export Advisor at Enterprise Estonia
Leana Kammertöns, Export Advisor at Enterprise Estonia

(Photo: Enterprise Estonia)

“Digitized process solutions for automation, robotics and ICT are used in more than 120 countries,” says Leana Kammertöns, export consultant at Enterprise Estonia in Berlin. “The path started in the mid-1990s with” Tiigrihüpe “, the tiger leap and the digitization of administration. From there, it was transferred to education and industry. ” The term “e-Estonia” stands for this robust ecosystem that has earned a worldwide reputation for being efficient, safe and transparent. Today Estonia is considered the most digital society in the world.

Cooperation between business and science

“The development of a new type of muon tomography is representative of the collaboration between Estonian industry and science,” says Leana Kammertöns. In addition to GScan, the University of Tartu is represented by its research institutions NICPB and iCV Lab. The National Institute of Chemical Physics and Biophysics (NICPB) is a public research institution that conducts basic and applied research based on academic freedom. The iCV Research Laboratory deals with “Computer Vision”. He works on the border of computer science and engineering, studying computer vision and its representation in 3D modeling.

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Open to business with German companies

“Estonia, with its international mechanical engineering community, is open to cooperation with German companies – as a development and cooperation partner or as a contract manufacturer. We offer a high level of vertical integration and competitive costs, industrial parks, accelerators and competence centers, says Leana Kammertöns. As an EU member, Estonia enjoys legal certainty. The country can be reached in two hours flight. The Estonian Business Development Agency’s German-language website www.tradewithestonia.com/de/ contains further case studies on smart solutions for various industries. Clients can contact GScan directly or one of the Estonian Economic Development Agency offices in Nuremberg and Berlin.

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