Digitalization in the textile and apparel manufacturing industry

The textile industry plays a crucial role in the global industry. The global textile market size was valued at USD 993.6 billion in 2021 and is anticipated to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.0% from 2022 to 2030 [1]. Increasing demand for textile supply chain over years turned this industry to implement a vertically organized, sustainable value chain which was being aided by trends such as sustainability and digitalization. The textile industry works on many major principles and processes which require digitalization implementation in their sector.
Prior to high demand and fast fashion trends in the textile industry, the adoption of digitalization is one of the greatest opportunities that help the retail sector. According to findings by van et al (2022) [2], IoT-based WMS can be used to manage a complex and integrated supply chain network by modeling it into simpler structures that are equally understandable by the developers, as well as the business owner. The prototype system integrated with the IoT was successfully deployed within a textile factory’s warehouse which helps in the enhancement of system efficiency by the installation of the scanner to efficiently track the goods status hence reducing in time taken in storing goods in the inventory and easy the updating process for a good recording. The smart warehouse system can keep track of their orders and shipments at any time during the order booking till the checking out of the product from the inventory. This gives it an edge over traditional warehouses with no IoT integrated.
On other hand, digitalization also has been incorporated into the newest smart technology in the textile industry. Smart textiles consist of discrete devices fabricated from—or incorporated onto—fibers. One of the applications of smart textile is a fully operational 46-inch smart textile lighting/display system consisting of RGB fibrous LEDs coupled with multifunctional fiber devices that are capable of wireless power transmission, touch sensing, photodetection, environmental/bio signal monitoring, and energy storage [3]. The systematic design and integration strategies are transformational and provide the foundation for realizing highly functional smart lighting/display textiles over large area for revolutionary applications on smart homes and internet of things (IoT).
Smart textile-integrated microelectronic systems (STIMES), which combine microelectronics and technology such as artificial intelligence and augmented or virtual reality, have been intensively explored [4]. Several main aspects are covered: functional materials, major fabrication processes of smart textile components, functional devices, system architectures and heterogeneous integration, wearable applications in human and nonhuman-related areas, and the safety and security of STIMES. The major types of textile-integrated nonconventional functional devices are sensors, actuators, displays, antennas, energy harvesters and their hybrids, batteries and supercapacitors, circuit boards, and memory device. Through sensory application, NADI X, a pair of yoga trousers with built-in sensors that vibrate to bring users into alignment as they move through various yoga positions, include digital capabilities that facilitate communication between retailer and client [5]. As we enter step the new industrial revolution, global retail decision makers are willing to use the Internet of Things to enhance consumer experiences. Digitalization helps textile industry in many aspects of things.

DTAM projects will help many other industries aiming to implement digitalization in their organizations and more professional people will be trained to cater the demand. 
 
References
[1] Pandey, D., Retail Marketing: A Critical Analysis.
2020.  
[2] van Geest, M., B. Tekinerdogan, and C. Catal, Smart Warehouses: Rationale, Challenges and Solution Directions. Applied Sciences, 2022. 12(1): p. 219.
[3] Choi, H.W., et al., Smart textile lighting/display system with multifunctional fibre devices for large scale smart home and IoT applications. Nature Communications, 2022. 13(1): p. 814.
[4] Shi, J., et al., Smart Textile-Integrated Microelectronic
Systems for Wearable Applications.
Advanced Materials, 2020. 32(5): p. 1901958.
[5] https://www.wearablex.com/pages/how-it-works

 

Featured image: Freepik/macrovector

City of Talents

To teach young students about the nature of today’s professions and those of the future, this is one of the objectives of the ‘City of Talents‘ orientation project promoted by Apro Formazione and its guidance counsellors.

The project was born with the idea of improving middle school students’ and teachers’ perceptions of the professions, and Apro Formazione decided to propose an industrial computer lab to raise awareness of what an IoT systems technician does, a profession that will increasingly require specialised personnel in the years to come. The aim of the project was not only to present the opportunities offered by the VET world, but also to provide information on high schools and universities that allow access to these professions at different levels.

The activities, divided into several mornings of intervention on different classes of the local middle school, involved the teacher, Stefano Antona, who impersonated an IoT systems technician, presenting the peculiarities of this professional figure.

He started by answering some of the students’ questions – “Do you have to know English?”, “What are the working hours?”, “Do you have to be extrovert?”, “Do you have to relate to other people?” – which made it possible to outline some of the key characteristics of the profile and the transversal competences needed to carry out this profession.

The meaning of IoT was then illustrated, with many practical examples of the application of these technologies that the students may have already encountered: smart home appliances, smart cities, home automation control systems….

A number of exercises were then proposed to be carried out within the DTAM-IoT laboratory, using the Raspberry-pi and the sensor and actuator kits provided by the DTAM sector alliance. Programming was carried out using Scratch software, so as to be able to work on a visual interface that is easy to interpret. The focus was on methodologies that can enable a desired function description to be conveyed in a code composed of functions. The motto of the exercise? ‘If there is a big problem that is difficult to solve, break it down into many small problems that are easy to solve’.

The proposed exercises were completed using a playful Play and Code approach, also using the cute kitten that Scratch provides for coding. The aim was to help the kitten cross the road. To do this, the work was divided into two phases: firstly, it started by managing three actuators (red, yellow and green LEDs) to simulate the lights of a traffic light and manage the timed sequence that alternates the three colours. In the second phase, the programme had to manage the kitten’s movements so that it would stop at red light, go at a normal pace at green light and start running to reach the opposite side of the road at yellow light.

 

The children were enthusiastic and took an active part in the proposed activities, showing great attention and seriousness, good analytical skills and a lot of curiosity. An auspicious experience for the future of IoT!

 

Safeguarding Industry 4.0: Navigating Cybersecurity Challenges and Implementing Solutions

As we continue to witness the transformative power of Industry 4.0, the convergence of digital technologies, automation, and data exchange has ushered in a new era of advanced manufacturing. However, with the rise of interconnected systems and the increasing reliance on smart technologies, the landscape of cybersecurity threats in Industry 4.0 has become more complex than ever. This article delves into the challenges posed by evolving cyber threats in smart factories and explores innovative solutions to fortify digital security.

Challenges in Industry 4.0 Cybersecurity

  1. Interconnected Systems Vulnerabilities: In Industry 4.0, the seamless integration of machines, sensors, and data analytics platforms creates an interconnected ecosystem. While this connectivity enhances efficiency, it also exposes systems to a higher risk of cyberattacks. Hackers can exploit vulnerabilities in one interconnected component to compromise the entire network, posing a significant threat to smart factories.

  2. Data Breaches and Intellectual Property Theft: The vast amount of sensitive data generated and processed in smart factories make them prime targets for cybercriminals seeking to steal intellectual property or sensitive business information. A breach in data integrity not only jeopardizes the privacy of individuals but also undermines the competitive advantage of manufacturing organizations.

  3. Insufficient Security Protocols: As technology evolves, so do the tactics of cyber adversaries. Traditional security protocols may prove inadequate in safeguarding against sophisticated cyber threats. Many smart factories may still rely on outdated security measures, leaving them susceptible to novel attack vectors and zero-day vulnerabilities.

  4. Human Factor: Despite advanced automation, the human element remains a significant factor in cybersecurity. Inadequate employee training and awareness programs can lead to unintentional security breaches, such as falling victim to phishing attacks or inadvertently disclosing sensitive information.

Solutions to Enhance Digital Security

  1. Implementing Robust Encryption Techniques: To protect data in transit and at rest, smart factories should deploy robust encryption protocols. Encryption ensures that even if unauthorized access occurs, the intercepted data remains unreadable, mitigating the impact of potential breaches.

  2. Adopting Zero-Trust Security Model: In a zero-trust security model, no entity—whether inside or outside the network—is trusted by default. All users and devices, even those within the organization, must authenticate and verify their identity before gaining access to sensitive information. This approach minimizes the risk of lateral movement within the network in case of a breach.

  3. Continuous Monitoring and Threat Detection: Smart factories must invest in advanced threat detection systems that continuously monitor network activities and anomalies. Machine learning algorithms can help identify patterns indicative of potential cyber threats, enabling proactive responses to mitigate risks before they escalate.

  4. Employee Training and Awareness Programs: Recognizing the human factor in cybersecurity, organizations should prioritize ongoing training programs for employees. This includes educating staff about the latest cyber threats, promoting best practices for secure online behavior, and fostering a culture of cybersecurity awareness.

  5. Collaboration and Information Sharing: In the ever-evolving landscape of cybersecurity, collaboration among industry stakeholders is crucial. Manufacturers should actively participate in information-sharing initiatives, sharing insights about emerging threats and collectively developing strategies to fortify the entire ecosystem.

As Industry 4.0 continues to reshape the manufacturing landscape, the importance of cybersecurity cannot be overstated. Navigating the challenges posed by cyber threats in smart factories requires a multifaceted approach that encompasses advanced technologies, robust protocols, and a commitment to ongoing education. By adopting proactive measures and staying abreast of the latest developments in cybersecurity, organizations can not only safeguard their digital assets but also contribute to the resilience and sustainability of Industry 4.0.

Featured image credit: Freepik

AFM Cluster R&D&I Projects For Advanced Manufacturing

Our partners from AFM continue to be a benchmark entity in R&D&I for machine tooling and advanced manufacturing, as evidenced by its participation in 7 HAZITEK projects with the Basque Government-SPRI during 2021. The projects address topics as interesting and relevant to the sector as digital transformation through new configurations of the digital value network, generation of added-value services in the sector, flexibilisation of manufacturing systems and improvements in Robot-Human interaction.

AIAM – Research in Technologies based on Artificial Intelligence (IA) and 5G to develop new solutions in advanced manufacturing equipment.

The purpose of the AIAM project is to make strides in the digitalisation process and advance towards incorporating systems to optimise the health of machines and processes, acting on machine and process parameters in real time. This is being done taking advantage of the opportunity provided by two significant enabling tools, i.e. the rollout of 5G networks in manufacturing settings, and Artificial Intelligence applied to decision-making in machine activity and processes

DIGIVaCh – Data science for collaborative operation in the VALUE CHAIN of advanced manufacturing through smart and interoperable management of DIGITAL models

The aim of the DIGIVaCh project is to research and generate knowledge about data exploitation in the value chain using interoperable hybrid digital models, fed with both internal and external data, which are managed intelligently, and which offer solutions to real problems arising during production, notably increasing the competitive edge of companies and leading to the development of innovative products and advanced services that position them and their value chains at the forefront of their sectors.

FLEX24/7 – Research on Technologies for devising ultra-flexible and self-configurable Manufacturing Systems that ensure an utterly agile and modular production.

Project FLEX24/7 proposes to create manufacturing systems as a combination of self-managing and interconnected, smart, autonomous functional blocks in order to meet the manufacturing needs of its industrial clients with customised modular solutions that can be easily reconfigured and bring together flexibility and agility. Under this strategic vision, the aim is to minimise efforts and costs when integrating the elements of the manufacturing system and developing and perfecting its global control, maximising the reuse of sufficiently tested and validated shared functional blocks in different manufacturing lines and cells.

R2M – Flexible and Reconfigurable Manufacturing systems based on Robot-Machine Collaboration

The R2M consortium proposes to research manufacturing systems based on robot-machine collaboration, with the aim of offering flexible and reconfigurable solutions, the value proposition of which for the client is to avail of multi-functional, resilient manufacturing systems with future evolution possibilities, without incurring in re-engineering investment costs. All of the activities have been co-financed by the Basque Government and the European Union through the 2014-2020 European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

EDGE4FoF – Research into balanced hybrid EDGE and Cloud architectures for the Factory of the Future

The EDGE4FoF project seeks to develop a new benchmark architecture in Edge/Cloud Computing to generate innovative products and services capable of automatic load balancing to offer solutions to the factory of the future.

SMARTCON – Integration of digital identity and BlockChain to create value-added services based on Industrial Smartcontracts

SMARTCON aims to research and develop digitalisation solutions that will enable machine tool companies to maximise the added-value of their current industrial products, optimising efficiency, availability, interoperability and the quality of their resources, maintenance services, design and manufacturing processes, as well as creating innovative business models for their multiple customers and suppliers in the new global digital ecosystem of the processes industry.

SSI4.0 – Sovereign Digital Identity and Data Sovereignty in Industry 4.0

SSI4.0 is all about experimental research and development of technologies for reaching a new realm of digitalisation, optimisation and enhancement of industry, focusing on building relationships of trust between players and systems within the industrial ecosystem, as well as managing the sovereignty, integrity and confidentiality of the information exchanged by these (credentials, designs, production data, etc.).

All actions have been co-financed by the Basque Government and the European Union through the European Regional Development Fund 2014-2020 (ERDF).

All these project require digital competencies and 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.

Stay tuned to learn more about that in the coming months.

Featured image credit: Designed by fatmawatilauda / Freepik

The importance of Digital Transformation in the Education System

Enabling technologies are increasingly bursting in and are present in all areas of our lives. In the case of the education system, it must not only adapt, but must also be an active agent of change and innovation. The entire educational community (students, teachers, families, educational institutions…) must take ownership and know how to take advantage of all the opportunities offered by enabling technologies for teaching, learning, communication and creativity.

In this sense, the DTAM project proposes the incorporation of some enabling technologies within the educational level of Vocational Training, with the aim of improving and diversifying teaching and learning practices, and development of new digital competencies.

We know that the current education system faces multiple challenges. One of them is its adaptation and transformation not only in terms of pedagogy, but also in terms of work organisation, infrastructure and governance. In this context, the transformation of the education system must be driven by experimentation and the use of digital environments to improve institutional and pedagogical practices. Under this premise, the DTAM project also offers a virtual Lab in the field of IoT in which both teachers and students can experiment their processes, designs and developments of new prototypes. Some other challenges include:

To ensure a successful transformation of the education system for the digital age, the education system must take action by playing an active role in the digital revolution, equipping both teachers and students with the right digital skills. So, in the case of the DTAM project, we see that it is a strategic project that can drive the digital transformation of the education system in the area of Advanced manufacturing.

Moreover, the DTAM project also addresses the two key strategic priorities of the European Commission’s Digital Education Action Plan (2020), in order to adapt education and training systems to the digital age, given that:

  • Encourages the development of a high-performance digital education ecosystem: through the pooling of infrastructure, connectivity, user-friendly and secure tools, and high-quality learning content between different project actors.
  • Enhances digital competences and skills for digital transformation: through the development of advanced digital skills that generate more digital specialists.

So basically, quite a lot to be done in a three year project. Essentially, here’s what you should expect from us:

  • The DTAM teaching methodology and training program.
    In this activity, we aim to create:

    1. Digital Transformation Skills Index in the field of digital transformation to help students evaluate their knowledge and identify areas for improvement;

    2. A dedicated training methodology with pedagogical Tools for DTAM Curriculum such as a Course Guide for VET Staff;

    3. Methodological Guide (a reference to Challenge Based Learning, IoT labs, WBL and transversal competences),

    4. Interactive exercises (answer guide for VET staff), and

    5. An Assessment methodology with certification and accreditation guidelines;

  • The DTAM Training course. In this key project activity the partnership will create the second important milestones of the project:

    1. An innovative training curriculum with topics of utter importance for the Advanced manufacturing education like Big Data, Machine Learning, Advanced Sensorica, Cyber Security,  Transversal Competences.

    2. Furthermore, the training course will be complemented by a variety of learning challenges for key modules linked to characteristics of various partner IoT labs.

    3. Finally, the training course will also be aided by a dedicated e-learning platform to host the DTAM OER, IoT hub and integrated feedback /tracking tools.

  • The DTAM IoT Hub. The idea behind this activity is based on the need to have a center for sustainable cooperation for various stakeholders, including students and teachers, entrepreneurs and professionals developing IoT products and services, buyers from private organizations or public administration, and end users. Through the creation of the DTAM IoT collaboration hub, access to training content and materials will be provided for all national and international stakeholders.
  • Pilot testing. Prior to the official presentation of the DTAM training course, a pilot test will be conducted to validate the training methodology, the training curriculum and the training content

Finally, we would like to emphasize that we are convinced that the integration of digital technologies into the education system will not only transform our educational institutions, but will generate learning environments that ensure an education consistent with the demands of today’s world, that enables everyone to participate fully, that promotes equity in our society and that fosters professional development in order to respond to the profiles of the future in the knowledge society, and we believe that the DTAM project will contribute to achieving all of this.

Featured image credit: Designed by pikisuperstar / Freepik

Second face-to-face meeting for the DTAM partnership

On March 9 2022, it was our partner Apro Formazione’s turn to host the DTAM partnership for our second transnational project meeting in the beautiful town of Alba, Italy.

Needless to say, the DTAM project partners worked intensively for three days, defining the contents of the training materials that will be tested in the different training centres. The technicians also tested for the first time the functioning of the DTAM IoT (Internet of Things) laboratory, interconnected at European level, by entering inputs from three different countries and obtaining a shared result.

The next step DTAM project leaders wanted to take, was to make the connection between all the mock-ups. Currently, there are 4 identical mock-ups in 4 different countries: Greece, Holland, Italy and Spain. They initial idea was to create several VPN-IPSEC between the 4 mock-ups, but unfortunately without success.


Then our partners from Apro proposed that, perhaps we can make one VPN-IPSEC per mock-up to one firewall that is in the Sarenet Cloud, where a server that they use is connected. Actually, to connect to that server they use a VPN-SSL connection. With the VPN-IPSEC connection, they would stop using the VPN-SSL and the connection between mock-ups will be managed in the firewall. Sounds too techy? Well then just remember that in early April 2022, the VPN-IPSEC between Da Vinci College (Dordrecht, the Netherlands) and the firewall located in Sarenet Cloud was made, but only this time successfully. 

The third and last day was an opportunity for discussion with local companies and universities like B&B Automation SRL, Spin SRL and the University of Eastern Piedmont (UPO), who offered their point of view on the work carried out within the project and proposed ideas for improvement in order to encourage the alignment of activities with the actual work environment and tertiary education. We sincerely thank them for their cooperation and support!

Next up is our third face-to-face meeting which has been scheduled for the end of June 2022. Stay tuned for more updates, as we are now going into the piloting phase of the project and we will be coming back with some more news about that in the coming months!

 

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