Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Smart Factories: European research project focuses on the human component in tomorrow’s production

26.02.2015

Launch of the biggest project in Austria focusing on the topic of “Industry 4.0”: the VIRTUAL VEHICLE Research Center in Graz coordinates the 7.9 million Euro project “FACTS4WORKERS”. The project includes 15 European research partners over a time of four years and aims at creating attractive and intelligent work places and boosting Europe as a production location. Improved training and increase of investment in factories and research & development will help bring Europe new and better jobs.

Production is moving constantly away from European high-wage countries to so-called “best-cost” countries or to locations with low energy cost. To fight this trend the European industry is challenged to develop intelligent added-value concepts for the field of production.


The project partners of FACTS4WORKERS at the kick-off meeting in Graz

Photo: VIRTUAL VEHICLE

The EU-commission wants to reverse “the shrinking role of the industry” and restore the “attractiveness of Europe as a production location”, says the responsible commissioner Antonio Tajani. With more investment in factories and research & development the amount the industry contributes to the European economic output should be increased from currently 15 to 20 per cent by 2020.

A large-scale research project now puts the worker into to the centre of future-oriented production concepts in order to render manufacturing jobs more attractive and help Europe to become more competitive. As of December 1st 2014 the VIRTUAL VEHICLE Research Center in Graz coordinates the project “Worker Centric Workspaces in Smart Factories (in short “FACT4WORKERS”).

15 European research partners from eight countries are part of this newly founded consortium. The four year long research initiative is being funded through Horizon 2020, which is a EU funding programme for research and innovation of the European Commission, running from 2014 to 2020.

Ambitious goals in research

The results of this research project are supposed to initiate a new industrial era, which is characterized by the so-called “Smart Factory”. The “Smart Workers” in those production sites will be ideally supported by information and communication technology in order to improve the manufacturing process regarding flexibility, efficiency, and reliability. This results in a local benefit in competition, and (central) European production locations can be secured in the long term.

Smart Factory

In a “Smart Factory”, the production site of the future, the focus lies on the worker as the most flexible element involved in the manufacturing process. He or she becomes a “production knowledge worker” and is supported by optimized information and communication technology, self-learning working environment, and in-situ learning while operating the machine.

The intended digitalisation is not limited to single factories, it will affect entire added value networks. This can be achieved via so-called “cyber-physical systems”, which are systems consisting of various components (IT, software, mechanical parts, etc.) that communicate via the internet or other means of communication.

The human component - a key factor

In addition to this technical approach, there also has to be a focus on the role of the worker as the human component and key factor in the manufacturing process. Here the term “knowledge work” is coined. Knowledge work is completely different from traditional automated routine activities in a factory. It is defined by an entirely new, complex, and autonomous work environment. Furthermore, “Smart Workers” develop new ways of continuous improvement of knowledge exchange on their own at the work place.

“We have to bring into question, how people work and learn, how they interact with new technologies, and how they can create an added value to the industry by working at an attractive and demanding work place”, explains Martin Wifling, project leader of FACTS4WORKERS at the VIRTUAL VEHICLE Research Center in Graz. The answers to these questions are the key to successful and human-centred solutions of information and communication strategies within manufacturing processes.

By reflecting on the situation of the worker in the manufacturing process it is possible to increase their satisfaction and motivation, which can lead to an overall increase of productivity by 10 per cent. The main research focus in this project, though, lies in “creating a significantly more attractive work area in manufacturing in Europe so that more people choose this demanding and ever changing occupational field”, says Wifling.


FACTS4WORKERS focuses on the following use cases:

Assisted machine operator
Due to the individualisation of products the batch sizes decrease. At the same time the rate of highly special and quickly changing information from multiple sources increases. Though, manual action by the operator is still necessary. At this point innovative interaction mechanisms such as data goggles are being used to display crucial information to the operator during the manufacturing process. Elements such as checklists, job specifications, manuals, and work orders, which are being printed from MES- and ERP-systems and are still commonly used, will disappear over time.

Human centred knowledge management
The necessary information will be delivered to the Smart Worker just in time in order to improve the production sequence. Furthermore, a new culture is being established, in which knowledge is shared voluntarily and pro active. Accessories in the working area should show intuitive interaction mechanisms such as voice-, touch-, or gesture-activation instead of text input. Practical knowledge can be transferred easier with graphical animations or videos then in written form.

Self-learning work places
Machines, tools, and other infrastructures in Smart Factories are considered to be intelligent. The output data of this infrastructure has to be exchanged effectively, so that it is possible to efficiently produce smaller sized batches. Already today there is more data output in production than ever before. This data has to be intelligently linked in order to take care of maintenance, spare parts, mounting of machines etc. in advance.

In-situ learning in the production process
When it comes to in-situ learning the Smart Worker is being focused on as the “learner”. Mobile, personalised, and situation-adaptive learning systems support life-long learning and cross-generational passing on of know-how, especially regarding demographic change. New production workers are brought to the manufacturing level of Smart Workers through context-based learning, concepts of manufacturing laboratories (FabLabs), and simulations in virtual reality environments. Data goggles and wearables offer ideal in- and output options for various use cases.

A step-by-step realization of Smart Factories is able to restructure production centres with production work undergoing an economic and social change of values. Production sites therefore are not only stabilised on a technological and economic, but also on a social level.

VIRTUAL VEHICLE

VIRTUAL VEHICLE is a leading research center in Graz, Austria, that develops affordable, safe and environmentally friendly vehicle concepts for road and rail. The key aspects of the research and development include connecting numeric simulation and experimental verification, as well as developing a comprehensive, full-vehicle system simulation.

About 200 experts from an international network of industrial and research partners devise innovative solutions and develop new methods and technologies for the vehicles of tomorrow. VIRTUAL VEHICLE is currently working in close collaboration with over 80 industrial partners and, in addition to our principle scientific partner, Graz University of Technology, 45 global university research institutes.

Contact:
Martin Wifling
VIRTUAL VEHICLE Research Center
martin.wifling@v2c2.at
Phone: +43 316 873 9077

Weitere Informationen:

http://www.v2c2.at - Website VIRTUAL VEHICLE

Elisabeth Pichler | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht Equipping form with function
23.06.2017 | Institute of Science and Technology Austria

nachricht Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity
23.06.2017 | Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V.

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quantum thermometer or optical refrigerator?

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A 100-year-old physics problem has been solved at EPFL

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Equipping form with function

23.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>