Industries are constantly looking for new ways to improve quality control for both the products and the production processes. The project OPTIMAI – Optimizing Manufacturing Process through Artificial Intelligence and Virtualization, funded by the European Union, and coordinated by the Centre for Research and Technology-Hellas (CERTH), is a leader in this field with technological solutions of industry 4.0.
The project started in 2021, while in 2022, the installation of quality control systems in the production lines, the interconnection of the subsystems, the testing of the algorithms with real data, as well as the first tests with the end users are expected.
The aim of the project is the optimal balance between fast, economical and reliable production options that have a significant impact on industrial competitiveness through a unique combination of Metrology, Artificial Intelligence, Visualization and Augmented Reality. Of the 14 partners, 4 are located in Greece: The Institute of Information and Communication Technologies of the Centre for Research and Technology-Hellas (CERTH), the Information Technologies Institute of the Foundation for Research and Technology -Hellas (FORTH) and the Department of Energy Systems of the University of Thessaly, are working on the creation of systems aimed at reducing failures, eliminating defects, maximizing productivity and improving the quality of processes.
The technologies produced under the project will also be applied to KLEEMANN, one of the factories involved in the consortium. The project is expected to have a strong impact on European industry, while the development of state-of-the-art technologies and their immediate implementation in Greece is something that will contribute to the development of the Greek industry.
CERTH coordinates the project and participates with the development of systems that combine sensors with artificial intelligence algorithms, in order to identify defects in the products, but also to predict errors in the production process that may lead to defective products. The algorithms developed are used to detect micro-scale errors on electronic boards, and in other industrial processes such as the antenna assembly and the construction of elevators.
“The most important thing for us is that in this one year we have largely involved end users. Designing such complex systems covering real needs and at the same time taking our own research forward, is the part that brings us the greatest satisfaction.Thus, the project can have a significant impact on the factories involved, the employees, but also on the European and Greek economy.” noted the project’s coordinator Dr. Nikolaos Dimitriou, from the Information Technologies Institute of CERTH.
FORTH, and specifically the Human-Computer Interaction Laboratory of the Institute of Informatics, is already implementing the applications of end-users, that is operators on the production line, who wearing augmented reality glasses will be able to be alerted at any time if something goes wrong in production, but also to react faster to problems that arise.The user interfaces are designed in such a way as to show, depending on the current situation, the information that is useful to the operator at that time. Also, the system helps operators to identify a problem faster, but also to solve it more directly, thus increasing production efficiency.
“It is important for us, that the factories that are part of the consortium see their production improve, and that the employees are really supported in their work with the technologies we provide them, which are based on human-centered design,” explained the project’s technical coordinator Dr. George Margetis from the Human-Computer Interaction Laboratory of the Institute of Computer Science of FORTH.
The University of Thessaly focuses on the investigation and development of state-of-the-art artificial intelligence technologies, which it will appropriately integrate into the quality control process, with the aim of identifying errors in the industrial products that are produced. It shall take particular account of the recent developments in the fields of Artificial Intelligence for Metrology, Digital Twins, Internet of Things (IoT) sensors, Computer Vision, Augmented Reality, Quality Control and Zero-defect Manufacturing.The model that is being developed has the ability to take advantage of the data collected by sensors mounted on the production line and to identify defective products. In this case, the operator is properly informed and can intervene either by interrupting production or by initiating maintenance procedures.
“The research already carried out by our scientific team of the University of Thessaly is an important link in the chain of optimization of the production process through the development and integration of advanced artificial intelligence algorithms, in order to identify errors in the products produced as well as the causes that create them”, pointed out the Professor and President of the Department of Energy Systems of the University of Thessaly, Dr. Elpiniki Papageorgiou.
KLEEMANN, one of the most important lift manufacturers in the European and global market, is one of the three pilots of the project, where the new technologies that are being developed will be implemented. OPTIMAI’s technological solutions are applied to the production and testing line of the power units of the hydraulic lift and have as their main objective the automation of quality control processes, and the improvement of the quality of the final product. OPTIMAI is expected to detect faults in real time, thus optimizing the entire production process.
“Through our cooperation with partners with significant know-how and especially research institutes and universities, synergies arise that enable us to develop innovative solutions that respond to real challenges of the production process.Our goal is the industrial exploitation and integration of these solutions into the product after the end of the project”, said Theophilos Mastos, EU Project Manager of KLEEMANN HELLAS SA.