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Empowering and participatory adaptation of factory automation to fit for workers

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - Factory2Fit (Empowering and participatory adaptation of factory automation to fit for workers)

Reporting period: 2018-04-01 to 2019-09-30

In smart factories, flexible and adaptive work organisation is crucial, for both productivity and work satisfaction. People with different skills, capabilities and preferences should be supported to be engaged, motivated and productive members of the work community. This will bring increased work well-being, fulfilling careers in manufacturing work, improved quality of products, increased productivity as well as stronger global position of industry in Europe through higher social acceptance levels. These impacts will, in turn, improve the competitiveness of the European manufacturing industry and support the principle of responsible manufacturing.

The main objective of Factory2Fit project has been to develop and pilot adaptive human-automation interaction solutions that improve the flow of working, support the worker in understanding and developing his/her competences and engage workers to share knowledge and to participate in designing their own work and training. The solutions developed in Factory2Fit will engage and empower future factory workers and bring increased worker motivation, satisfaction and productivity by giving the worker motivating feedback of his/her wellbeing and work performance, and adapting the work environment according to personal skills and preferences. The solutions will radically increase the possibilities of workers to influence their work and the solutions will engage workers to take responsibility of their own learning and skills development.

Factory2Fit solutions have been evaluated with users in eleven industrial pilots, utilising a common evaluation framework that covers both immediate implications and impacts on work well-being and productivity. The results show that especially the solutions to engage the work community, i.e. participatory design, knowledge sharing and training solutions are very well accepted, provide positive user experience, and have potential to increase both work well-being and productivity. When integrating adaptation solutions to the production environments, legal-ethical issues need to be considered carefully. Factory2Fit has developed ethically sound solutions to measuring and monitoring workers, but still these solutions need to be introduced to workers so that they can participate in designing the local practices of utilising those solutions. Measuring and monitoring should be voluntary to the workers.
The project has developed and piloted two kinds of adaptation solutions: 1) Empowering the worker solutions adapt the work environment according to the worker model and give motivating feedback to the worker; 2) Engaging the work community solutions encourage and motivate workers to participate and influence at the work place as well as to develop their competences. The project has delivered a wide set of dissemination activities, targeting at general public, industry, policy makers and the scientific community. Together with Human-Centred Factories (ACE) cluster a White Paper was published.

The main technical results and their industrial exploitation plans are the following:
1) The Workplace Adaptation Engine will be exploited by AMS as a commercial product under the name “ Smart Unifier”.
2) Virtual Factory tools that support participatory design and training will be exploited by Visual Components as extensions to their Virtual Library.
3) Decision Support System (DSS) and Task Distribution Engine (TDE) support smart management of workforce and task assignment. CERTH aims to exploit the solutions in collaboration with relevant companies.
5) Worker Feedback Dashboard gives the operators empowering feedback of their work well-being and work achievements. VTT is looking for an industrial partner to commercialize the solution.
6) Contextual knowledge sharing supports making tacit knowledge visible in the production environment. The solution will be integrated to Prima Power System UI.
7) Off-site training solution supports pre-training before the actual production system has been set up. The solution will be exploited as a part of Prima Power Customer services.
8) On-site-training solution supports on-the-job learning with image-based search supported video guidance. The solution will be adapted to other subsidiaries of UTC.
9) Virtual factory based participatory design (PD) solutions were very well accepted by the pilot users. Continental plans to spread the solution internally.

The research partners will further develop the solutions and exploit them to industry more widely.
Factory2Fit has illustrated a vision of human-centred future factories with a selection of Operator 4.0 solutions that have been piloted in industrial environments. This kind of broader view of future factories is beyond the state of art, where the research focus is often on individual solutions, and the connections to actual industrial needs may be loose.

The results of the project have many advancements beyond the state of the art: 1) The Holistic Factory‘s Common Information Model goes far beyond existing models of the (digital) factory. 2) The Factory2Fit Dynamic Worker Model supports this universal approach. 3) The developed adaptation methods, including Decision Support System (DSS) and Task Distribution Engine (TDE) can be applied to different types of factories. Software tools are integrated, and allow communication with external systems via APIs. 4) Factory2Fit has introduced an implementation of the quantified worker idea on the factory floor with the Worker Feedback Dashboard. 5) Factory2Fit Virtual Factory model is beyond SoA by facilitating use of the Virtual Factory to everyone. 6) Factory2Fit has developed a unique technique to choose the most appropriate participatory design method. 7) Factory2Fit online training system’s novelty value comes from image-based operations. 8) The off-site training solution is beyond SoA as it allows web-based training at the operator’s own pace. 9) Contextual knowledge sharing solution goes beyond SoA by the integration of a production system data with the employees’ tacit knowledge. 10) The Factory2Fit comprehensive design and evaluation framework is beyond state of the art where the focus is often on limited perspectives.
Factory2Fit solutions have potential to contribute to work well-being, and the balance between personal and professional life. When people can influence their work, they will experience their work as more meaningful. When new tools are introduced at the work place, workers should locally participate in designing how the technology should be utilised and what kinds of work practices should be agreed accordingly. In this way, the workers’ expertise is fully utilised and the workers will commit to the new practices and tools.

On a societal level, Factory2Fit’s solutions can be seen as one-step towards a data-intensive and quantified society. Factory2Fit solutions support the aim of sustainable and responsible industry by compensating the physical and cognitive capacity of the worker during his/her whole work career.
Factory2Fit design and evaluation framework
Factory2Fit partners on map
Factory2Fit adaptation approach and solutions
ACE Cluster Operator 4.0 typology
Infographic on Factory2Fit objective and targeted impacts