Workshops 4.0

Hand in hand with the great change that digitalization has brought about in recent years, a new concept has emerged: Industry 4.0. It covers the set of technologies that are allowing the leap to the digital and connected industry. Large companies already have innovation departments that allow them to integrate digitization, but small and medium-sized companies often do not have the resources to tackle such a major change and need the support of external agents to help them.

Being aware of the needs that arise due to these changes, our coordinating partner Politeknika Txorierri are pushing towards supporting the technological innovation of SMEs, by creating a laboratory where they can carry out the necessary tests before taking the final step in their facilities, as in this way investments can be made with greater security, while the start-up time and associated errors are reduced.  This laboratory will work with sensors that will capture the most important data in a machining process (motor temperature, power and energy consumed, tool vibration, etc.), and then store and analyse the data with advanced processing techniques. The results will be used to improve the production processes of companies and to train their workers in specific Industry 4.0 techniques.

Different actions are currently being carried out in our workshops. On the one hand, the mechanics workshop is being adapted with the aim of improving the management of its use by students and reducing its energy consumption. This workshop is made up of conventional lathes and milling machines, and through the installation of programmable logic controllers (PLC) the operation of each machine will be controlled and the necessary measures will be taken to evaluate its energy consumption. A SCADA system will be in charge of storing the operating data of the machinery, as well as implementing a reservation system so that students can access the machines only at the assigned time and avoid delays and excessive energy consumption. The data generated will serve to evaluate the efficiency of the system and propose improvements to it.

Likewise, an environmental control system will be installed in the mechanical workshop based on air quality sensors, noise sensors and systems to minimize the use of resources and the generation of waste. The generated data will be stored in an IoT platform accessible by our environmental control students to propose improvement measures and evaluate their results.

In addition to accompanying companies, all these technologies will serve to train future workers in Industry 4.0, since students in the automation, environmental control and telecommunications fields will participate in challenges designed to help them acquire the technical and human skills related to data management, one of the most important values of the industry of the future.

Project DTAM is dedicated on helping students and basically anyone out there, pass the threshold of the manufacturing skills gap, by creating an innovative training curriculum aiming to transfer key Advanced manufacturing skills. Stay tuned as we discuss this in one of our next upcoming articles.

Augmented and Virtual reality in advanced manufacturing

Augmented or virtual reality systems are pieces of technology that allow workers to interact with a computer-generated image of the physical environment, allowing for remote control of machines or directing workers through on-site tasks, and ultimately increasing the safety and decreasing the cost[1].
According to Britannica[2] virtual reality (VR) uses computer modeling and simulation to allow a human to engage with an artificial three-dimensional (3-D) visual and/or another sensory world. Virtual reality applications immerse the user in a computer-generated environment that closely resembles reality where they use interactive devices (e.g., goggles, headsets, gloves, body suits, etc.) which send and receive information. Another great and interactive technology is the Augmented reality (AR). This extraordinary and visible mean is providing useful digital information in the context of the actual environment, which helps employees connect and improve business outcomes[3].
But what exactly are the applications of this revolutionary technologies in the factory? According to Jonathan Wilkins[4] this technology can not only accelerate production but also raise safety. Specifical, VR is currently used by forward-thinking manufacturers to improve their approach to predictive analytics where finding defects in a product design can take weeks of data analysis, but interacting with the product digitally allows user to detect a flaw in a matter of minutes. Also, it is feasible to identify harmful maneuvers in advance by digitally recreating the industrial processes. By modeling the real-world settings in which a product will be utilized, the same technique can be used to increase customer safety. Automobile makers, for example, can simulate various weather and traffic conditions to improve the safety aspects of their vehicles. Furthermore, AR can make maintenance easier. For example, when technicians are examining or fixing a machine, the information they need can be projected directly on the part on which they are working. This saves time by eliminating the need to examine charts and instruction manuals. Furthermore, the predicted information assists the operator, allowing even a somewhat inexperienced worker to do the necessary repair. Also, AR can be utilized to provide professional assistance without the need experts to travel from one side of the world to the other. Any employee wearing AR glasses can be guided remotely by a professional who provides assistance by mimicking the steps that the employee should take. This method can be used to train new personnel as well. Furthermore, both AR and VR can be quite helpful in preparing employees for emergency procedures. Still not convinced that AR and VR can help your business become more effective? Here’s a really cool video showcasing actual business use cases that are already been exploited by some really big companies out there: 
In conclusion and following the philosopher Kants words, virtual reality was merely a concept in our heads (in the past we can say) but nowadays, AR and VR have actual uses that forward-thinking manufacturers are already utilizing.

Image credit: Designed by pikisuperstar / Freepik

Sources:
[1] Common Advanced Manufacturing Terms, Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre LTD, www.amgc.org.au
[2] Lowood, Henry E. “virtual reality”. Encyclopedia Britannica, 13 May. 2021, https://www.britannica.com/technology/virtual-reality. Accessed 21 March 2022
[3] https://www.ptc.com/en/technologies/augmented-reality
[4] Jonathan Wilkins, Virtual and Augmented Reality in Manufacturing, Design & Development | AR, VR | 13 June 2019

Artificial intelligence applied to home energy production

The home is perhaps the latest frontier, in which the Advanced manufacturing sector is taking an interest, particularly with regard to automation and the application of artificial intelligence. Today the new technologies for the intelligent management of the home, also known as Smart Home, respond to the challenges of environmental transformation processes, and ecological transition and adapt to the increasing dynamism of lifestyles. Moreover, the home has become not only the place where energy is consumed to meet the needs of the family, but also the place where energy is produced. The term Smart Home (or home automation) generally refers to the study and application of technologies to improve the quality of life in the home and, more generally, in man-made environments. This highly interdisciplinary area requires the contribution of many technologies and professions, including construction engineering, architecture, energy engineering, engineering management, automation, electrical engineering, electronics, telecommunications, computer science and design.
We interviewed Massimo Marengo, CEO of the Marengo Group based in Alba, Italy, on one of the specific applications of artificial intelligence in the home environment and here’s what he shared with us:

  • What does your group deal with?
    “We started as a company that deals with civil and industrial electrical systems, but now we are an engineering company that deals with energy. We have products, registered trademarks and international patents in the energy field and we have focused on the development and creation of energy at 360 degrees, both civil and industrial, with a strong inclination towards sustainable energy. In particular, one of the companies in the group deals with intelligent energy production systems at home, starting from renewable sources such as photovoltaics. We call this type of home automation applied to energy production Smart Home Energy“.

  • How did Smart Home Energy come about?
    “For a couple of years now, the theme related to the ecological transition has entered the political and common debate, it is not only the prerogative of specialists in the field. So we started to work on artificial intelligence and on the integration of energy processes, with the aim of building self-production energy systems, both for industry and for individuals. Within this scenario, until now, usually, energy production and use systems are isolated from each other. For example, the heat pump, photovoltaic system, heating and cooling are often systems that do not communicate with each other. In 2015, we created the first patent for industrial plants: a multifunction system that intelligently manages the production and use of energy in the industrial field, with the aim of prioritizing renewable energy, ensuring maximum return on investment and having maximum performance. The system is managed by a second-level artificial intelligence that automatically detects electricity and gas prices, thus making decisions based on the data collected to use, produce, accumulate or store energy. No longer plant engineering, but advanced energy engineering.”

  • How does AI apply in this context within the home?
    “Between 2017 and 2018, we started working on a system that would manage the production of photovoltaic energy and how it is consumed within the home. Starting from our experience with the industry, we created a plugin system, with a simple and intuitive interface, based on artificial intelligence developed in Cloud.  The system, through specifically produced micro hardware, communicates with all “smart” appliances inside the house and manages them through a level 2 AI, based on weather conditions, priorities that the user selects and in relation to other environmental and context data. In this way, instead of selling energy to the grid – which is increasingly less convenient – it is used as much as possible to run all the appliances in the house. This is the Energy Smart Home we envision for the future. Today you can no longer think of making a system that does not manage energy well, because you risk spending more than you wanted to save”.

  • What are the challenges of the future?
    “First of all, there is the need to unhinge the conservatism of certain operators in the sector who are not aware of the changing world and who are limiting the process of innovation. Now is the time to better distribute this type of technology and know-how to communicate it to all potential beneficiaries. In the future, but this is less about the domestic environment, we talk about developing hydrogen production and storage systems that are with the production processes and all their dynamics”.
Thanks to DTAM, the industry alliance led by Politeknika Ikastegia Txorierri, a vocational training program is being built to provide technicians across Europe with the skills needed to implement and manage cutting-edge digital tools within production lines, and to facilitate the migration to Industry 4.0. 
 
Image credit: Designed by macrovector / Freepik

Special buoy collects data for seaweed farm with Advanced sensorica

Have you ever wondered what forces can a seaweed farm withstand? Too weird to ask right? Well it’s not one of those things you would do on a regular basis, but as it turns out, it does matter if you are into aquaculture. In the coming months, this is something that will indeed be measured off the coast of The Hague in the Netherlands, with a special buoy fitted with sensors and seaweed.
The Dutch government has the ambition to increase aquaculture, for example with farms for seaweed and mussels between wind farms. However, the North Sea is notorious for not being a friendly sea. To create a functioning, robust production site, it is essential to first collect data to see how much storm-force a seaweed farm can withstand. In a dedicated prototype space of the Sustainability Factory, part of the Da Vinci College, the young company Aqitec developed a special buoy and the instruments for the farm in the North Sea of the municipality of The Hague. More tests are taking place in this ‘smartest part of the North Sea’ to accelerate innovations.
The special buoy, the Azifarm, follows a design philosophy of simplicity, allowing forces on the system to be well controlled and therefore, easy to sow and harvest. The principle is scalable. Now that the Azifarm has been placed at sea, next up is testing the construction and operation of the system. Via integrated GPS, sensors, and cameras, the experts will collect measurement data like forces, movement, and images, etc. for further research.
Aqitec have even developed a dynamic modelling of the seaweed cultivation arrangements via their very own in-house software called “AQ-dynamic-farm” software.e
Are in you interested in Advanced sensorica? We got you! The knowledge of the sensors that participants can obtain through the DTAM project, will enable them to work on the agriculture of the future. By continuously measuring the conditions and linking the data, it becomes possible to provide valid advice on how to create a sustainable, robust production location. 
We invite you to keep an eye on our website for more news, as we keep working on our DTAM training course with an accent on 5 key Advanced manufacturing areas:
  • Big Data
  • Machine Learning
  • Sensorica
  • Cybersecurity,
  • Transversal Skills.
Learn more about what more to expect from the DTAM project here. 

Missed the EU Industry Days 2022 Edition? Here’s how to catch up

The EU Industry Days is surely one of the most interesting thematical events organized by the European Commission. It is an annual event aiming to discuss industry challenges and co-develop opportunities and policy responses involving a multitude of actors and stakeholders from various fields. This year’s edition of the EU Industry Days was organised as a blended event with both virtual and face-to-face interactions. The main event took place in Brussels, Belgium between 8-11 of February 2022, with an extensive agenda of key issues and themes deserving European if not global attention. Among those were purely green topics like Europe’s decarbonization goals, reducing emissions, sustainable aviation and others, but also other important industry-related aspects such as making tourism more sustainable, supporting European citizens to stay Europeans, industrials and technological solutions and innovation, advanced manufacturing, investments and support for digitalization any many others.

Have a look at the gallery below to see more of this year’s highlights:

In case you’ve missed the official event, you can still join any of the local events and take the most of the available EU Industry Days online resources. Here’s how:

  • Have a virtual tour of the Exhibition
    Though the virtual event has ended, you may still sign up for it and check out the available virtual EU Industry Days exhibition, where you will be able to learn about varoius initiatives in the ares of (1) Green and Digital Transition and (2) Green and Digital New Business Models. You will also learn about some funding opportunities for businesses, get access to networking opportunities and meet pepople of interests via the provided contact options.

  • Join locally organised EU Industry Days events
    The best part about the EU Industry Days is that it is not yet over! Remeber, this is a European wide event, meaning you can still receive valuble information on your topics of interest and even better – interact with local actors. You may follow the EU Industry Weeks local events via the official webpage here, where you can sort events by thematic areas, country and dates. Virtual workshops, fairs, seminars, open door sessions and business presentations will demonstrate how European industrial ecosystems are approaching the topics of green and digital transition, resilience and youth in industry.

  • Listen to the official ‘Unlocking the Future’, the EU Industry Days podcast series
    Interested in some more focused discussions on a topic you are interested? Well then, we totally reccomend that you check out the EU Industry Days podcast, where contributions from a wide variety industry insiders, civil society representatives, academics, and many others share their thoughts about the trends, challenges but mostly opportunities that the green, digital, and resilient transition brings for European industries. By the way, we really like listening to the “The Role of Networking Organizations” podcast, where Mr. Matteo Carlo Borsani, Managing Director of Confindustria Delegation to the EU said:

"This pandemic has shown that you can not be selfish. If you want to survive, if you want to react and be competitive for the time being and the future, you need to act as a whole."

Finally, if you enjoyed the above contents and you wish you had access to more, then you may also want to check out the discussions from previous editions of the EU Industry Days, including a wrap-up video of the EU Industry Days 2021 edition.

Hungry for even more? Visit the official EU Industry Days website here.

#EUIndustryDays

Featured image and gallery images credit: Official EU Industry Days 2022 Website

AFM Cluster: Digitization Of Production Projects

The Digitization of production is a challenge for the manufacturing sector. For that reason, AFM CLUSTER is participating in projects such as SMART-EASY. The project pursues the development of a new generation of digitally replicated and sensorized machines and processes to offer intelligent assistance during the definition of processes, as well as a guarantee of quality and productivity during their execution.

AFM is the manager and coordinator of the project led by Nicolás Correa, in which the following companies also take part: Ibarmia, GNC Hypatia, Shuton, Talleres MYL, Álava Ingenieros, MonoM (formerly ThingsO2), Inmapa Aeronáutica, together with the research bodies: Tecnalia Research & Innovation, the University of Burgos and the University of the Basque Country UPV/EHU. The initiative is financed by the Centre for Industrial Technological Development (CDTI) and the Ministry of Science and Innovation of Spain.

The global objective of the SMART-EASY project is to develop a new concept of autonomous and intelligent machine-tool which, on the one hand, assists its manufacturer users in the different stages associated to advanced manufacturing (parts preparation, launching of processes, executing operations, etc.) and, on the other hand, supervises these manufacturing operations and, where applicable, adopts decisions aimed at optimising its quality and productivity, thereby reducing the overall need for human supervision and intervention during the different stages of production.

With this project outlook, the companies in the consortium, which synergistically cover the different stages in the manufacturing value chain, are developing different hardware and software solutions, key among which are the following:

  • A system based on artificial vision, which assists the user in positioning and aligning the machine parts.
  • Thermal twins for machines that enable application of online offsetting techniques for thermal errors.
  • A system to oversee the stability and productivity of manufacturing processes that includes a diagnostic and online action system to detect the presence of any error or deviation.
  • A system to monitor the health status of the more critical components of the machine by executing regular checking cycles: Fingerprint of the machine and its components.
  • A system to record information on manufacturing processes, such as tools, surface quality, cutting parameters, etc.: Process fingerprint.
  • A tool manager based on process data that enables parameters such as status and the remaining life of these tools to be estimated.

With the integration and implementation of these results, the project consortium expects to achieve reductions of up to 50% in times and costs associated to the operation’s definition and launch phase, reductions of over 15% in maintenance costs on milling machines, and reductions of over 20% in consumables, lubricants and coolants used in machining operations.

The SMART-EASY project requires digital competencies and projects like DTAM will help to develop them for the current and future workers. DTAM Training Course will consist of approximately 25 training units on digital and transversal skills relevant for IT and OT technicians in AM environments that contribute to the major areas of Industry 4.0 and the foreseen sections of Big Data, Machine Learning, Sensors and Cybersecurity.

 

How AI can help cities become more sustainable

In the Neolithic period, humans began to cultivate the land and breed animals. In this way, they began to have something like a steady diet, and sedentary human groups began to emerge, which led to the formation of the first fixed settlements. This was around 3,000 BC.

As time went by, the first cities in history began to emerge in very specific geographical areas with specific natural conditions. People who lived there were able to develop great agricultural and manufacturing activities with innovations in sowing and production (plough, lathe, wheel, a network of canalс etc.). Little by little, people began to specialise in order to achieve improvements in production and communications, which favoured trade, while the invention of writing allowed a better accounting of economic transactions.

Soon, the somewhat primitive and unsafe villages began to develop into real urban centres with stone buildings, avenues, etc. The appearance of these urban centres brought changes in the social and economic life of the people. In the same way, economic activities were also changing, commerce and industry began to develop… But apart from all these economic activities, the structuring of knowledge and technology has been fundamental in responding to the challenges of the urban transformation processes in which cities find themselves and which are known as Smart Cities.

It is in the 21st century, and especially in its second decade when the main transformations are taking place, at great speed, due to the exponential development of technologies, which are changing economic and social models.

In the face of these transformations, one of the objectives that we must define, and address is the preservation and improvement of the quality of life of living beings on the planet. Focusing on the case of people, the majority of us live in cities; cities that must expand with ethical and environmental criteria, respecting the commitments of the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals. Both public and private agents must ensure the sustainability and resilience of cities in order to improve the quality of life of their inhabitants.

To this end, it will be essential to take advantage of renewable energy sources, to commit to sustainable electromobility, to the almost total elimination of emissions from energy generation, industry, transport… In this regard, there are several reports that are committed to Artificial Intelligence (AI) as an enabling technology to achieve this goal.

AI, and in particular machine learning, time series forecasting, data analytics, etc., have a crucial role to play in redesigning and rethinking cities so that people living there have a better quality of life.

For example, learning combined with neural networks can help us understand how buildings consume energy and recommend adjustments based on the behaviour of their occupants. In addition, it can help us to automatically control the management of the water cycle, achieving its optimisation and efficiency.

At GAIA, we have defined how it is possible to make the incorporation of AI into the different value chains of organisations a reality. Below, we present its outline:

However, cities need revolutionary methodologies and tools to optimise massive amounts of data from different sources (e.g. streetlights, traffic systems, sensors, etc.) and need to centralise data storage in complex global and often fragmented supply chains. This is where Big Data analytics and AI, in general, come into play, which is why DTAM sees the need to develop training content that trains students in these skills.

In conclusion, we can say that it will be crucial to have data and carry out in-depth analyses of it, but we will have to be able to learn from it because only then, we will be able to make the right decisions. With this, and with the appropriate use of AI, we will achieve a sustainable future with better living conditions for citizens and the planet. An end that unites us all.

Sources:

[1] National Geographic (2012) The first cities, the urban revolution in Mesopotamia

[2] Wikipedia (2021) Smart City

Featured image credit: Car vector created by macrovector – www.freepik.com

Building the DTAM IoT Hub

If you’ve been following us for a while now, you already know we are aiming to build an entire training course dedicated to advanced manufacturing skills & competencies and in addition to that, a dedicated IoT Hub to facilitate training, learning, and collaboration amongst our future stakeholders. An ambitious initiative indeed, but we’ve already laid down the first steps.

The backbone of our DTAM IoT Hub i.e. its infrastructure will be provided by our partners from Saranet: one of the leading providers of internet solutions for businesses in Spain. Saranet specializes in offering integral and high-quality services to companies. It provides a full range of services including high speed, high availability connectivity services, high-end data center solutions with an extensive portfolio of hosting solutions, Virtual Private Networks (VPN), Voice over IP (VoIP), mobile solutions, security solutions, and Industrial IoT.

That’s exactly why Saranet is charged with the responsibility to build the DTAM IoT Hub and provide the cloud infrastructure to install the IoT technologies and software. Simultaneously to building our training curriculum we are also taking steps towards that goal like testing the software installation in a staging area i.e. a test area in the Sarenet cloud. Sarenet brings support to the provision of the entire centralized architecture so that those responsible for teaching methodologies can model the dimensioning of a centralized working environment in the cloud.

DTAM cloud architecture will be implemented so that those responsible for technical knowledge, experts in enabling technologies, develop the start-up for the use of Big Data through open-source software located in the Sarenet data centers.

The cluster of several servers in the cloud, necessary for the proper functioning of the DTAM project, will be tied to a secure access control and with appropriate technologies, so that the target IoT teaching methods can be practiced with open source software added within a trusted environment.

Sarenet’s system engineering team accompanies DTAM in the correct use of communications and technologies for jobs in the cloud, together with monitored access to the centralized data storage.

Sounds exciting? That’s because it is. We invite you to sign up for our newsletter here and check our website regularly to make sure you don’t miss the bis announcement when we are ready to launch the DTAM IoT Hub. Is there a feature you would personally like to experience via our DTAM Training curriculum? Let us know on our social media channels.

Featured image credit: Background vector created by freepik – www.freepik.com

Humanity, Technology and Intelligence in the International Vocational Education and Training Congress

The International Vocational Education and Training Congress “VET in the face of the era of humanity, technology and intelligence” took place on November 10th and 11th in San Sebastián (Spain).

Local and national authorities attended the Congress in which high-level speakers from different fields participated. About 960 people physically attended the exhibitions in very diverse fields: from industry and technology to gastronomy, highlighting the educational field, all of them referring to the advance of the 4th Industrial Revolution and their involvement in Vocational Education and Training.

Moreover, the International Congress was followed around the world via streaming. Adding the number of people who attended the congress in person at the Kursaal Palace in San Sebastián to all those registered to follow the interventions online, the sum adds up to a total a little over 4200 people, from 156 countries on five continents.

The Congress highlighted the importance of technology not only in the near future but at the present time in the face of the 4th Industrial Revolution. The interventions underlined the importance of the human dimension since it is ultimately people who have to acquire the leading role in technological development.

Artificial intelligence, intelligent systems, automation or robotization are increasingly everyday realities that are changing society, the way of working, or the way of interacting with one another. In this context, technology must be an aid to the human being and not an end in itself. Because technology alone is not enough, it is key to prepare coming generations to work and live in this new environment. In this context, Vocational Education and Training becomes a key transforming agent: it trains the workers of the future, enables those who are active and the unemployed to upskill and reskill to the changes of the labor market, and allows companies to be competitive.

That is precisely one of our DTAM project goals i.e. to “grow a workforce of technicians capable of understanding, installing, configuring, monitoring, analyzing, transferring data and maintaining digital systems in advanced manufacturing environments so meeting a critical skills gap in EU Industry 4.0”.

We invite you to have a look at our official project presentation below to learn how we intend to achieve that.

Featured image credit: School photo created by freepik – www.freepik.com

Big data benefits

During one of his keynotes, Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella once spoke about data as today’s ‘electricity’ meaning it is the thing that drives innovation forwards, just like it was with steam, electrical power, and digital tech in the past three industrial revolutions.

There’s probably not a single business out there that does not recognize the value of data in general. However the usage of data has long passed the simple record-keeping threshold, it is literary so much more: much more complicated, with much higher velocity, variety, veracity and yes, much bigger volume. We live in the era of Big data.

Just in case you are stumbling upon this term for the first time, though we doubt that, Big data is about collecting and analyzing internal and external data to create actionable insights and improve decision making in an organisation.

Because of Big Data, companies are in a position of growing ability to target, collect and store information, then analyze it in order to create new revenue streams and even predict market trends and customer preferences. They can also use it to streamline their products, services and business processes.

Big Data matters since it is very often considered as the most vital and powerful asset of any existing enterprise. Understanding of data and how it can be used in the best possible way is crucial especially for the small and medium businesses which are constantly facing an increasingly competitive market. An investment in Big Data always pays off when the data gathered is (1) being analyzed in order to be able to take measures and (2) act purposefully on the received data i.e. create insights. Big Data helps gaining more complete answers on varoius matters and very often reveals “hidden” but otherwise valuble information. Having enough information means you are becoming more confident in decision making and therefore could lead to a completely different approach for tackling business problems.

While it is true that the best Big Data solution for your organization is the one that is comprised according to your needs, there are some benefits in general that apply to pretty much all businesses. Companies may utilize Big Data to also achieve other great business results and we put some of them in the below infographic, so let’s check it out:

Indeed, there’s a lot that Big data can do for a business. But then again, has everyone already started using it then? Well, the answer is no. That’s because there are certain challenges to be considered when talking about actual company use cases and implementation of a Big data strategy in a given business.

We will talk about that in one of our next posts so stay tuned.

Featured image credit: Background vector created by freepik – www.freepik.com