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Smart Human Oriented Platform for Connected Factories

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - SHOP4CF (Smart Human Oriented Platform for Connected Factories)

Reporting period: 2020-01-01 to 2020-12-31

SHOP4CF (Smart Human Oriented Platform for Connected Factories) is an EU-funded project within the eighth framework program Horizon 2020 that aims to create a unique infrastructure for the convenient deployment of human-centric industrial applications. In the project, 20 partners develop a comprehensive software platform containing a wide range of components that cover a broad spectrum of industrial requirements, especially in the context of modern, flexible, and data-rich manufacturing.

The overall vision of SHOP4CF is that tomorrow's production requires both machine skills (e.g. high accuracy, precision, or persistence) and human resources (e.g. creativity, adaptability, or tactile sense). Therefore, the technical solutions that are currently built around the SHOP4CF software platform aim at the mutual complementation of human labor and machines to improve the working conditions by: (1) Automating monotonous and/or laborious work as well as by (2) increasing human productivity through smart assistance. We believe that SHOP4CF can have a strong positive impact on the labor market, as people in production are not simply replaced by automated processes, but rather gain in importance as their individual abilities find new relevance. Another outcome of SHOP4CF is the development of new rules, which will address novel aspects of human-robot collaboration such as privacy, security, protection, legal aspects, or data ownership. To ensure rapid adoption, great emphasis is placed on user-friendliness, reusability, interconnectivity, and accessibility. An important aspect is the creation of a holistic platform comprising a variety of different solutions called components, real-world deployments of component ensembles called pilots, license models (there are free and commercial components), specification of the rights of use and warranty. Moreover, we build a platform that comprises a unique infrastructure to easily deploy, orchestrate, and develop the modular components. The idea of achieving a high degree of reusability is similar to the open-source software movement that led to a revolution towards efficient software development. This modern approach is leading to an appealing alternative to the conventional way of creating solutions to specific problems from scratch in the manufacturing sector. For this vision to work, a highly modular approach is envisaged, from which people can creatively select and combine components to address their needs without being overwhelmed by technical issues during integration. We believe that this approach can significantly accelerate human-driven innovation in the context of manufacturing process design. For realizing this vision, all components are developed using a single point of integration to ensure a high degree of interconnectivity and compatibility. The consortium of SHOP4CF is united by the vision of a platform that significantly increases the level of automation to maintain the competitive edge of the European manufacturing sector.
During the first period, significant efforts has been made to develop and maintain an extensible system architecture that satisfies the requirements within the SHOP4CF project. The architecture is fundamentally based on results from predecessor projects such as HORSE and L4MS and integrates the open-source middleware FIWARE. A first draft of the architecture has been created. In addition, prototypes of the components were created by the respective developers. Five ambitious experiments covering four pilot partners were defined that serve as a first reality check for testing the architecture, components, and the marketplace in realistic industrial environments. Requirements for the human-centric design of industrial manufacturing solutions have been defined based on interviews and workshops with technology providers and stakeholders. Note that identified deficiencies are intended to provide feedback to developers to ensure proper consideration of human factors in all elements of the project.

An important aspect in SHOP4CF is the creation of a sustainable business model to ensure continuity as well as proper commercial exploitation of the project results beyond the project’s lifetime. To this end, a holistic strategy for the exploitation and dissemination of the results was outlined whereas a Business Model Canvas has been created. The work done to build a vibrant community has been primarily focused on laying out a strategy for the upcoming periods. In particular, a strategy to engage new partners as well as building a community is prepared. Moreover, the project’s website and marketing material (e.g. blog post and a promotional video) were created. Initial considerations on regulatory/standardization aspects have been made in the first period. To this end, a collaboration with the EFFRA DMP cluster is established where standardization efforts taking place with respect to the CEN Workshop Agreement. Several surveys were conducted to determine the current situation of partners regarding licensing and standardization. In particular, the surveys analyzed the standards currently used by partners for collaborative robotics and connected factories. Moreover, partners were surveyed to outline their desired licensing models. It is worth mentioning that there will be both free and commercial components offered in SHOP4CF. Another point that has been analyzed is the way partners handle the generated data and, in this context, compliance with the GDPR.
The European manufacturing companies are strugling with high labor costs as well as with the availability of the properly skilled workforce. This leads companies to move their production to cheaper countries with a long-term negative effect on the European economy. Additionally, this leads to large-scale socio-demographic changes in the European society.
Those reasons are the driving force behind the decision of EU to focus on innovation and produce results and products beyond the state of the art with a big impact on the European society. Following those guidelines, SHOP4CF will be supporting manufacturing companies by creating a one-stop shop. In that way, manufacturing companies can reuse platform functionalities in multiple contexts to support various types of application and services of the future. This helps decrease the time of adaption to the new technology drastically and companies can focus on the integration of different technologies, while managing their human resources more effectively.

SHOP4CF platform will be accesible for everyone (intergrators, developers, end users etc.) and will provide business opportunities for developers and intergrators and with the help of the low entry barrier, small and new players will attracted. Additionally, there will be a validation framework based on user’s feedback.

Last but not least, SHOP4CF provides all the neccesary tools in order to support workers in the interaction with the connected factories both during the design and programming of workcells as well as during the actual production process. To this end, we secure that workers will further develope their skills leading to better working conditions, less accidents and more high skilled labor in Europe. This is seen as the key for economic growth and will have positive impact on the socio-demographic changes in the European society.
Logo of the SHOP4CF project