Today, industry in Europe provides 50 million direct jobs. This accounts for 20% of our workforce, and over half of our exports. Although there are currently high levels of automation in the manufacturing industry, people remain central to operations.
Five projects funded under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme – A4BLUE, Factory2Fit, HUMAN, INCLUSIVE, and MANUWORK – are developing solutions for manufacturing work environments that adapt to each individual worker. In the past, people were expected to adapt to machine requirements. Now, automation systems are being developed that can recognise the users, remember their capabilities, skills and preferences, and adapt accordingly. Adaptation can also make work organisation more flexible so that individual preferences are taken into account in task distribution. New automation approaches, with workers at the centre, will complement people’s capabilities and ensure higher performance, adaptability and quality.
The solutions currently being developed by these five research projects will bring a wide range of benefits for workers, employers, and wider industry in Europe, including:
- Increased adaptability to provide workers with personalised tasks
- Improved quality of products and increased productivity
- Increased worker satisfaction
- Stronger global position of industry in Europe through higher social acceptance levels
As the five projects entered the second year of their three-year duration in autumn 2017, they teamed up to form a cluster. Based on the common goals they are working towards, the cluster is a forum for sharing projects’ knowledge, progress, and results as they emerge. By combining their efforts, A4BLUE, Factory2Fit, HUMAN, INCLUSIVE, and MANUWORK hope to achieve greater impact and wider adoption of these new developments in advanced manufacturing systems.