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FoF-04-2014 - Developing smart factories that are attractive to workers

Specific challenge:In a very competitive environment, manufacturing enterprises will need to be attractive to potential workers. This will require new thinking both on scheduling of work and design of attractive and safe workplaces, taking into account the ageing workforce. The aim is to demonstrate the operation of a real smart factory, focusing on the interconnection between organisation, workforce, management and technology. This interconnection must be supported by new models for optimisation and utilisation of production systems to ensure efficient transfer of knowledge and information. This requires new ways of using new technologies (e.g. augmented reality), which are highly adaptable and able to address the task holistically. The new models must be able to support the workers’ tacit knowledge in the process of both controlling the production line and controlling advanced machinery. This will enhance synergy in the interaction between humans, technology and the organisation.

Scope: Demonstration activities should be multi-disciplinary, involving in particular as appropriate disciplines of Social Sciences and Humanities, and address all of the following areas:

-         Methodologies and tools for efficient design or re-adaptation of production facilities based on co-evolving product-process-production systems considering simultaneously productivity aspects and the wellbeing and autonomy of the workers, through the integration of technologies.

-         New methods and technologies for an optimised take-up and use of workers' knowledge, to stimulate team interactions and to enhance work related satisfaction taking into consideration safety and ergonomics of the working areas.

-         Integration of innovative production technologies supporting increased productivity and flexibility.

-          Incorporating aspects linked to education, workers' training and attractiveness to the young and the elderly (e.g. in-factory teaching, 'factory-lab' concepts).

Attractive research will support manufacturing enterprises in Europe in their respective efforts for talents to be employed in attractive manufacturing jobs. Proof of concept in terms of at least one industrial pilot demonstrator should be delivered before the end of the project, convincingly demonstrating a solution to industrial needs.

For this topic, proposals should include an outline of the initial exploitation and business plans, which will be developed further in the proposed project.

Wherever possible, proposers could actively seek synergies, including possibilities for funding, with relevant national / regional research and innovation programmes and/or cumulative funding with European Structural and Investment Funds in connection with smart specialisation strategies. For this purpose the tools provided by the Smart Specialization Platform, Eye@RIS3 may be useful[1]. The initial exploitation and business plans will address such synergies and/or additional funding. Exploitation plans, outline financial arrangements and any follow-up will be developed further during the project. The results of these activities as well as the envisaged further activities in this respect should be described in the final report of the project.


Activities expected to focus on Technology Readiness Level 5-7. A significant participation of SMEs with R&D capacities is encouraged.

This topic is particularly suitable for collaboration at international level, particularly under the IMS scheme.[2] Project partnerships that include independent organisations from at least three IMS regions[3] are therefore encouraged.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU between EUR 4 and 7 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Expected impact:

The impact on the areas of application of the projects is expected to be:

                In social terms, an improvement in the working conditions in factories and in the attractiveness of the working environments in particular for young people.

                Improved work satisfaction of employees within the factories of the future.

                In economic terms, an increase of 10% in productivity due to an increased commitment of people, better organisation of work and by increasing the pool of potential workers through widening the skill profile.

                Strengthened global position of European manufacturing industry through the introduction of the new technologies.

Type of action: Innovation Actions.

[1]; the relevant Managing Authorities can be found at

[2] IMS (Intelligent Manufacturing Systems) is an industry-led, global, collaborative research and development programme, started in 1995 as the world’s only multilateral collaborative R&D framework:

[3] The current member regions of IMS are the European Union, the United States of America, Korea, Mexico and the EFTA state of Norway.