INCLUSIVE | Smart and adaptive interfaces for INCLUSIVE work environment


Modern manufacturing systems are becoming more and more complex because of higher demands for fast production rate with high quality and flexibility, that is the ability to customize the production lines to the constantly changing market requests.

Despite high levels of automation of machines and robots, humans remain central to manufacturing operations since they take charge of control and supervision of manufacturing activities. Human operators interact with machines and robots by means of human-machine interfaces (HMIs), which are unavoidably becoming very complex as new functions are implemented by the production system and include a wide range of possible operational modes and commands.

In this scenario, human operators experience many difficulties to interact efficiently with the machine; this is particularly true for middle age workers who feel uncomfortable in the interaction with a complex computerized system and young inexperienced or disabled people who cannot effectively manage such complex production systems.

To overcome this gap, INCLUSIVE aims to develop a new concept of interaction between the user and the machines in which the behavior of the automation system adapts to human operator capabilities.

Therefore the project is focused on:

  • Human capabilities measurement
  • Adaptation of interfaces to human capabilities.
  • Teaching and training the unskilled users.

The expected impacts of the INCLUSIVE are:

  • Increase in adaptability, e.g. product customization capability.
  • Quality increase in human and automation performance.
  • Increase worker satisfaction and strengthen global position of industry in Europe through higher social acceptance levels.
  • Wide adoption of the new work environment in advanced manufacturing systems.
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Start date: 01-10-2016
End date: 30-09-2019
Total budget - Public funding: 4 324 588,00 Euro - 4 324 588,00 Euro
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Original description

The market demands flexible productions lead to complexification of production systems and hence to more articulated Human Machine Interface (HMI). This new features tend to exclude from working environment elderly people who, even if they have a great experience, feel uncomfortable in the interaction with a complex computerized system. Moreover, complex HMI creates a barrier to young inexperienced or disabled people for an effective management of the production lines.
To tackle this problems, INCLUSIVE aims to develop a new concept of interaction between the user and the machines in which the behavior of the automation system adapts to human operator capabilities. Hence, INCLUSIVE develops an ecosystem of technological innovations driven by human factors analysis applied to three concrete industrial use cases, carefully chosen to represent a wide range of needs and requests from industry.
INCLUSIVE is based on three pillars:
• Human capabilities measurement
• Adaptation of interfaces to human capabilities.
• Teaching and training the unskilled users.
Once developed, the new system will be initially tested in lab and then in the use case premises where cognitive load measurement data will be analyzed. 12 months of the project are dedicated to the adoption and use in real conditions of the new tools in the three industrial use cases, in order to demonstrate its validity and improvement reached in working environment.
The anonymity of workers will be completed guarantee and the data collected will not be attributable to a specific person.
The consortium is formed by eleven partners (six companies and 5 research centres) located in Germany, Greece, Italy, Poland and Turkey, which represent a full product value chain that include: HMI developer (PROGEA), software developer (SOFTFACT) machine developer (KHS, SCM), system integrator (GIZELIS), final user (SILVERLINE) and research centres (UNIMORE, TUM, RWTHA and CIOP), and a technology transfer specialist (ASTER).



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Result items:

The smart HMI was tested in E80, with expert and nonexpert operators working on an AGV in real working environment. The availability of such a tool to guide the use and maintenance of complex vehicles was strongly appreciated by workers, since it simplifies the interaction with the vehicle proprietary user interface and enable structured access to knowledge of specific procedures that have been carried out empirically. Moreover, expert operators are now able to take advantage of their experience and plan ad hoc maintenance plan, customized on the current status of the fleet. 

Further studies are being carried out to employ the virtual training in order to train the customers’ operators without having to wait for the delivery of a newly bought machine, or without having to block a productive machine for training purposes. The ADAPT module will be further developed in order to evaluate integration with the recently released MAESTRO Active HMI, which already incorporates personalization features such as language settings. Finally, discussions are underway with the commercial area in order to verify whether the use of wearables by customer’s workers can be promoted in order to improve their well-being at home. 

Even if robots are well known in Europe there is a lack of knowledge on their real potential and on the existence of tools able to simplify their programming and reconfiguration. Most Industries need to be supported in the process of introducing such tools in the plants. Advanced tools for training, are essential

Result items:

Project clusters are groups of projects that cooperate by organising events, generating joint papers, etc...

Result items:

The customisation capability reflects in terms of reduced vehicles downtime and increased assignment of supervision jobs to vulnerable users. Moreover, the maintenance phases are shortened resulting in less downtime that provides an increase of the productivity of the total system (human and automation).

The use of the INCLUSIVE HMI leads to a 4.2 % reduction in the average time required. For the second use case, the use of the INCLUSIVE HMI leads to a much larger decrease in execution time of 69.7 % when compared to the current HMI system. Moreover, a usability questionnaire has been filled in by testers, allowing to conclude that the INCLUSIVE HMI was perceived as an improvement with regards to the current HMI for all dimensions, for instance frequently usage, complexity, ease of use, functions, consistency, and learning effort.

The introduction of the hybrid robot/bender panel system allows to reach production efficiency and accuracy, and a more flexible interchange of operators with different characteristics.


The human-centric factory is a topic of great importance that deals with automation, robotics, and flexible manufacturing