The Trinity Workshop on Agile production with over 100 participants at European Robobotics Forum ERF 2019 was a great success. To get Feedback from Robotics community on the challenges for agile manufacturing we organized a World Café. You can find the updated and commented results of the topic tables Robotics, Cyber Security and Digital Tools as well as a summary of the workshop here.

Summary of TRINITY Workshop at European Robotics Forum ERF2019

With over 100 participants the TRINITY workshop about Agile Production was one of the most popular workshops at ERF2019. To boost the new started European DIH projects into the direction of SMEs’ needs the organizers wanted to collect opinions about the challenges of SMEs from the Robotics community. They collected answers from the community in form of a word cloud. Every participant could contribute with its own mobile device, also anonymously. All collected answers are shown in figure below with the size of words being independent of the mentioned frequency.

Download the full ERF2019 TRINITY Agile Production workshop report.

Importance of agility in European manufacturing

The project coordinator Professor Minna Lanz gave a short introduction about the idea behind the TRINITY DIH project as well as the importance of agile manufacturing to keep European’s industry competitive. In times of demographic change and globalization technologies as Advanced robotics and Industrial IoT offer possibilities to improve the ability to adopt to changes for producing enterprises. To prevent systems from unwanted access also Cyber Security issues have to be considered when developing new approaches. Especially for SMEs it is challenging to be aware of all necessary issues in parallel to their daily business.
After presenting the TRINITY approach including a critical mass of use cases demonstrating the actual use of these technologies to increase agility in production Ali Muhammad from VTT presented the related project DIH2. It also aims for an increased agile production. It connects 26 existing DIHs in different countries by building partnerships between successful implemented and developing DIH infrastructures. Both projects will work together to manage the cascade funding process where European SMEs can apply for up to 300.000€ to improve, adapt and implement technologies in their facilities.

The needs of the European industry

To hear directly from the industry how they deal with the mentioned challenges two industrial talks were held by Juho Vihonen from Cargotec and Edwin Lotter from LP Montagetechnik. Juho illustrated how Robotics and artificial intelligence influence the work of Cargotec already today. Smart algorithms help the company to offer intelligent services helping their team and their customers. Edwin as the owner of an integrating company focused on the demands of his customers. They mainly require highly flexible robot systems to avoid physical stress for their employees. The main challenge of collaborative robots can be seen in the high safety requirements leading with insensitive robots and parts to slow movements.

Cyber security in manufacturing

The main problem of Cyber Security in Robotics was addressed in a pitch by Jan Reimann from Fraunhofer IWU who sensitized the audience about a lack of existing solutions to prevent robots from unauthorized actions. Under the headline “Robots in Problems (RIP)” he highlighted different causes and topics of increased risk for attacking robot systems as the additional risk of cloud services and attacks with automated AI algorithms. The topic of Cyber Security was discussed in detail at the second TRINITY workshop at ERF2019 called “Cybersecurity for Robotics” by Trinity member Ulrich Seldeslachts.

TRINITY world cafe

As the discussion with the Robotics community was the main objective of the workshop the participants were divided into three groups after the short motivational talks. Each group corresponded to one of the three main Trinity pillars Robotics, Industrial IoT and Cyber Security and participated in a World Café. The hosts of the tables were Roel Pieters from Tampere University, Niki Kousi from LMS in Patras and Jan Reimann from Fraunhofer IWU. The groups discussed main issues of the different topics for 10 minutes and rotated to the next table where the host was shortly introducing the discussion of the last group and asked for additional comments and further contributions. After three rounds the results were presented by the hosts.

Findings on Robotics

The different needs of end users were especially discussed in the Robotics table. The time consuming adaption due to safety documentation and needed programming skills were identified to be main reasons for end users to hesitate implementing robots in their plants. Also non-traditional ideas like rent-a-robot solutions had been mentioned and were discussed as a cost-efficient possibility for potential users to find out whether their ideas might work. As missing helpful tools to easily calculate the outcome of a robot system a ROI calculating tool and a checklist for possible improvements to the work environment as well as a list of best practise examples were discussed.
Furthermore there was a long discussion about the challenges about planning, implementing and using robots. A long list with reasons why users hesitate to have more robots was build. It reaches from high costs, lack of knowledge to challenging safety guidelines and a lack of acceptance of these systems from the workers. All participants agreed that it takes more than technical developments to finally implement more robots to make production sites more agile.

Findings on Digital Tools and IIoT

The world café table about digital tools and industrial IoT was mainly discussing the actual barriers and benefits of these technologies. Participants had different opinions about the ideal development of these tools. On the one hand it needs highly skilled staff as well as much effort to deploy technologies and attach to existing infrastructure. On the other hand the provided benefits are still rather unspecific and difficult to express in reduced time or costs. This makes it especially difficult for SME to invest their limited resources in digital tools. Nevertheless the participants agreed on the provided benefits and improvement that are possible with digitalization. A faster ramp up, predictions of errors and better adaption to changed conditions were only some of the collected possibilities by digital tools. The increasing digitalization will continue and especially for SME it is better to start now by trying technologies, training staff and adapting existing infrastructure than being too late.

Findings on Cyber Security

All participants agreed about the raising risk of cyber attacks when it comes to digitalization, cloud computing and increased use of robots and connectivity in manufacturing. By using algorithms to analyse machine performance and plan maintenance activities a defect can cause significant damage for a company. Furthermore also hardware defects and safety risks can result from software attacks. From the discussed challenges a large number of requirements for a secure operation were collected. A reliable Risk Management system was discussed as a good possibility to deal with the topic. It should be based on standards and considering different aspects of Cyber Security as hardware requirements, competence trainings for employees, appropriate infrastructure and the necessary awareness of the risks in SMEs. It could lead to a Cyber Security labelling for different products. The contributions of this World Café table is visualised below as a mind map.

TRINITY ERF2019 cybersecurity mindmap

Next steps: Survey to quantify the SME needs

Based on the presented findings the workshop organizers created a survey to better quantify the specific needs of European SMEs for agile production. Thereby the Trinity consortium first of all wants to find out what is the status quo in Europe when it comes to end users, technology providers and integrators of different technologies. To prepare the Open calls starting by the end of 2019 according to specific needs of SMEs we also ask for their requirements to implement own Advanced Robotics and IoT solutions. We invite every European SME to participate in the survey which is available in different European languages. You can find the survey link here in couple of weeks.

Thanks to the Robotics community for helping us to improve European manufacturing and special thanks to all participants of our workshop!
All information about the Trinity-Project can be found online
For further information feel free to reach out to us!

TRINITY workshop material from ERF2019, Bucharest, Romania