Thank you for joining us today! Please could you give us a short introduction to Aimen, and explain your activities related to improving the competitiveness and technology know‐how of the manufacturing Industry?
We are a Spanish Innovation and Technology Centre highly specialized in materials and in advanced manufacturing technologies, in particular joining technologies and laser technologies applied to materials processing, robotics, and automation.
Within the BetterFactory consortium we provide technology to improve interactions between humans and robots. Our computer vision-based technology can detect, track, and recognize the pose of workers in shared spaces. This information can be used for preventing collisions, optimize logistics and increase the options for robots and workers to collaborate.
Thank you! For someone who has never heard of Better Factory before, how would you describe it in simple terms?
BetterFactory is a European-funded project that aims to help small and medium-sized companies become Industry 4.0-ready with the help of technology providers and, on the other hand, to improve their products or create new ones with the contribution of an artist. To this end, two open calls have been launched to bring together companies, technology providers and artists to work together towards the goals they have set themselves.
The collaboration between the company and the artist will lead to new products or improve existing ones by adding value to them. The collaboration between the company and the technology provider will lead to the modernization of the factory on a technological level, which may include improvements in manufacturing, logistics or monitoring.
Aimen is one of the partners providing tech-based support for the participants as they prepare their proposal for their KTE (Knowledge Transfer Experiment). What are the most common issues that the teams are coming up against?
The general objective of BetterFactory is quite transversal (from product concept design to automation or industrial process optimization) therefore, it is important to establish clear and well-defined objectives, both at the product/service level and at the process improvement level. Also, it must be considered that it must be developed in a few months. The different backgrounds of the various parties involved can make it difficult to set realistic goals.
On the other hand, it can be difficult for companies with a low level of automation to become industry 4.0 ready. Depending on your technological starting point, it may or may not make sense to invest the effort, cost, and resources to get there in certain areas. What is important is to have a sharp vision of what needs to change to ensure a profitable return.
For an SME or technology provider that is thinking of applying for the next open call, what advice would you give from a technical perspective?
By looking at the APPS catalogue one can get inspired about which paths to take. Then you must consider what you have in the factory and how you can apply those APPS. BetterFactory is a good opportunity to take an innovative leap and apply innovative technologies to your production line in a relatively straightforward way with the consequent impact that this can have on cost reduction or product quality.
If you have a robotic cell, think about how you could improve it so that robots can collaborate with workers in a way that is easier for them. Think about how those processes can be made more flexible by introducing interaction with humans. Consider whether detecting how crowded your warehouse is can improve your logistic flows. Think about whether the number of agents moving goods in your warehouse is the right number depending on the workload. These or similar questions should be asked by those who want to participate in the open call.
How is the technology being developed through Better Factory going to further transform the manufacturing sector in Europe, even after the project has ended?
Transformation will come hand in hand with the modernization of SME facilities and processes. The aim of offering first-class technological solutions on the RAMP platform is to facilitate this transformation process. Introducing all these improvements will have a notable impact on the companies that will hope to expand their market, open to new markets or increase their competitiveness.
No doubt there will be some readers that are keen to meet you to talk more about the project and your role in it. Which events can people find you at in 2022, 2023, and beyond?
European Robotic Forum 2022, 28 – 30 June, Rotterdam, NL
European Robotic Forum 2023, 14 – 16 March, Odense, DK
If you’d like to learn more about our partners or KTEs, just head back to the Insights section to read more interviews!