Prof. Egbert-Jan Sol
- smart industry
- industrie 4.0
- factory of the future
- open automation
Smart Industry deals with the digitalisation of industry in both manufacturing and services. It’s internationally known as the fourth industrial revolution. Examples of smart equipment are robots that have vision and remote monitoring products that make smart and predictive maintenance assessments. Through AI analyses, TNO constantly increases its knowledge on how to properly use AI. For example, in the field of cobots (robots collaborating with humans) where we help define a smart co-operation balance between humans and robots in order to improve the performance of these systems and their operators/supervisors.
AI in industry already uses specific cases where all data is digitally available, often coming from one source. Think of a vision camera monitoring the position of parts to be grasped by a flexible assembly robot as used in manufacturing and agro/horticulture.
Other examples are high-tech industrial sensors, which generate huge amounts of data with a lot of noise and where AI algorithms can improve detection accuracy. For example, dust particle detection in the semiconductor industry.
In more advanced applications, TNO researches better digital twin models with multiple data sources and mathematical/physical simulation models. In those cases other aspects are taken into account. Think of data collection, cleaning, visualisation, sharing data, data sovereignty or confidentiality, cyber security and use of standards.
There are several challenges today in smart manufacturing and services. One has to do with using and combining multiple data sources (sensors, remote systems, vison cameras etc). We often face multidisciplinary or complex challenges that require extensive system modelling and subsequently, in practice, the continuous changes in equipment configurations and product mixes result in the need to determine proper AI parameters using a minimum of data.
And for human-machine interaction there is a need for explainable, understandable or transparent AI to be used by operators in a manufacturing environment. In a cobot situation the operator doesn’t want the robot to behave unpredictably or too fast for the operator to adapt.