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Balancing Human and Automation Levels for the Manufacturing Workplaces of the Future

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - MANUWORK (Balancing Human and Automation Levels for the Manufacturing Workplaces of the Future)

Reporting period: 2019-10-01 to 2020-03-31

The modern manufacturing world has shifted its focus to further increasing automation. Advanced workplaces are replacing existing stations. Moreover, human-machine collaboration has taken a leap, placing human operators in the centre of attention. In the past, people were expected to adapt to machine requirements. Now, automation systems are being designed and developed so that they can recognise the users, remember their capabilities, skills and preferences, and adapt accordingly. Humans and automation are therefore taking advantage of each other’s strengths, having a symbiotic relationship for enhancing the capabilities, skills and quality of their work. The expected result should be more flexible, inclusive and safe workplaces, as well as better work conditions and increased productivity and improved quality. But, above all, this would mean increased worker satisfaction and work well-being, more empowered and engaged workers and increased interest towards factory work.
Future manufacturing will be characterized by the complementarity between humans and automation, especially regarding the production of highly customizable products. This requires new methods and tools for the design and operation of optimized manufacturing workplaces in terms of ergonomics, safety, efficiency, complexity management and work satisfaction. The MANUWORK project sits at the core of this cooperative mission, developing technologies and systems to support the design and operation of manufacturing workplaces that support human collaboration with other operators and machines.
MANUWORK supports the design and operation of human-centered manufacturing that is based on the human-automation symbiosis. In this paradigm the operators feel empowered and in control of their workstation while at the same time the system adapts in order to compensate for operators’ limitations (skills, knowledge, disabilities), thus ensuring a socially sustainable working environment without compromising production targets.
MANUWORK has focused on the development of an integrated platform for the management of manufacturing workplaces of the future. This will be done through development, implementation, integration and testing of the following technological components:
1. Tools for determining optimal human-automation levels for load balancing, based on methods for the assessment of physical, sensorial and cognitive capabilities of humans, the prediction of evolution of human skills/capabilities and the modelling of automation skills.
2. Framework for the evaluation of worker satisfaction, safety and health, based on methods for evaluating psychometrics and socio-organizational parameters and the safe human-automation symbiosis.
3. An Industrial Social Networking (ISN) platform and methods for knowledge capturing and social analytics which will be used for knowledge capturing, networking, guidance and decision support.
4. Augmented Reality (AR) technology to support operators through training and instructions visualization in the shop-floor.
In order to implement the vision for adapted and knowledgeable human centric workplace MANUWORK has developed some results that are listed here after
1. Load Balancing Tool: A tool for determining the optimal human-automation levels for load balancing.
2. Automation Skills Management: A tool that evaluates task execution time in different types of automation. It uses MTM-like analysis to produce time execution estimation for each task.
3. Skimatic tool that helps managing the skills of employees.
4. Augmented reality apps: A number of AR apps to facilitate information delivery. Focusing on VOLVO, FPI-PRIMA and LANTEGI BATUAK pilot
a. In Prima Case, an Augmented Reality tool will to provide detailed visual instructions to guide, step by step, complex machine operator activities (such as press brake machine operation), adjusted to the operator’s level of experience, securing correct completion of the job while training his skills.
b. In Volvo case Augmented Reality will be used for advanced assembly line visualization to support decision making in production line design and for process simulation visualization, securing high level of ergonomics for the operators.
c. In Lantegi Batuak an advanced interface for authoring projector- based Augmented Reality instructions will be developed, that will support the operator for assembling and testing electrical cabinets, considering different levels of skills and disabilities.
5. Robotic cell for the collaborative assembly and verification of electrical cabinets (TEK)
6. Task scheduling app: A tool that re-schedules task execution based on operator skills, production requirements and equipment constraints.
7. Industrial Social Network (RAPpID) application: A tool for facilitating knowledge exchange and communication between the employees of a company.
8. MANUWORK platform offers the necessary framework for integrating the different modules of the MANUWORK project.
9. Questionnaires for the evaluation of job satisfaction and satisfaction with MANUWORK technologies: They will have been applied at VOLVO, LANTEGI BATUAK and BAZIGOS. In SAFRAN, a number of focus groups and interviews have been conducted on these issues.

Finally, MANUWORK has tested and validated the research and technological developments in three industrial pilot demonstrators (aerospace, automotive and people with disabilities), following an industrial pre-pilot validation (machine tool sector).
1. Automotive (VOLVO): The automotive use case focuses on the assembly of car engines targeting at optimal manual/automation load balancing with consideration of the real-time status and knowledge extracted from shop-floor.
2. Aerospace (SAFRAN): The aerospace use-focuses on the final assembly of civil aircraft engines and the focus will be on feedback/ information sharing, workers’ training and satisfaction
3. Disabilities (LANTEGI BATUAK): This pilot case uses the human-machine symbiosis paradigm for supporting people with different disabilities to perform complex assembly tasks.
Based on the validation phase of the project upon the industrial pilot cases the project has achieved the following impact.
In the Lantegi Batuak industrial case
• Decrease the profile threshold required to access (to be able to carry out) this assembly job. This result to more inclusive workplace.
• Individual traceability of assembly correctness tests
• Detection of errors without the intervention of a human supervisor
• Increased satisfaction of workers
• Reduced time to assemble an electric cabinet
• Reduced defective production
• Decrease time to prepare workers’ manuals and track assembled components (process digitalization)
• Better learning experiences and monitoring of ergonomic principles

In Volvo automotive industrial case (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vjQLxYSn930)
• Improved Throughput per hour (TH)
• Reduce Long-term Re-balancing Lead time.
• Method for evaluating worker satisfaction

In the Safran aerospace case:
• Improved Feedback on work organization and processes: Transversal communication (between employees)
• Improved training process
• Increased Worker satisfaction

The results of the project have been disseminated through various dissemination activities:
• Performed almost 120 dissemination activities in total
• 20 scientific publications
• 7 public videos in project Youtube channel (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCwjftSPTKgSH8NeGclBJoeQ)