The Know4Car project attempts to make knowledge management and collaboration more effective throughout the product lifecycle, supporting the capture and the systematic organization of knowledge in the form of manufacturing templates. Furthermore, Know4Car will develop faster, easier, error-free user-interfaces for data entry/checking in the shop floor along with serious games options for instantaneous knowledge retrieval, training and/or design purposes.
The Know4Car platform integrates four components which will are developed separately:
1) Manufacturing Process Knowledge: The first component of the Know4Car platform is an ontology-based database, through which, knowledge related to process design may be structured and organized, so that it may be managed more efficiently.
2) Agent-based Engineering Collaboration: The core component is the Agent-based platform, which utilizes autonomous software agents for assisting the organization as well as the distribution of the engineering knowledge. This platform is capable of supporting engineers and technical teams by reacting to changes related to the engineering projects development and evolution and by managing the knowledge generated.
3) Extended Engineering: The platform is capable of managing the way the knowledge is exchanged and distributed among OEMs, system integrators and suppliers. A specific part of the platform takes into consideration a series of rules and will support project managers in the process of managing data workflow and integration issues. Common knowledge models, residing in a shared central repository are accessible by different nodes of the extended enterprise, the system integrators and the suppliers.
4) Advanced User-Interfaces and Training: The introduction of advanced user-interfaces and training options within the platform aims at streamlining the interaction, the performance of the engineering teams and available IT tools. Different types of interfaces are available for addressing the needs originating from different groups of technical personnel. In addition, a set of Augmented-Reality (AR) techniques and tools are employed for providing faster training for operators and technicians.
Two pilot cases are currently being deployed in the context of demonstrating the added value of the Know4Car developments in the manufacturing sector:
1) Automotive Assembly: This pilot case is implemented for evaluating the project’s developments regarding the collaboration of the engineers and the operators in an automotive assembly process. The pilot case includes activities, such as process design with the use of historical knowledge, serious games and AR training system implementation, as well as shop floor to production management and communication.
2) Extended Engineering Collaboration: In this pilot case the engineers from the suppliers’ side work with the OEMs in order to complete certain predefined tasks by using the Know4Car platform. The validation criteria are both quantitative and qualitative. Special requirements from the industrial partners form the specifications for the test-bed implementation and the results are used for the evaluation of the platform.
Through the Know4Car platform, the process of capturing, organizing and distributing the manufacturing knowledge will become more efficient, and will reinforce the European leadership in knowledge-driven platforms, tools, methodologies, product development and manufacturing. The autonomous software agents of the platform will be capable of undertaking a series of everyday activities towards accelerating the product design and manufacturing process, enabling new products to be realized with a considerably shorter time-to-production and time-to-market.