The basic idea behind the digital platform developed in SHOP4CF is that a high degree of simplicity in setting up automating processes allows humans to focus more on the problem-solving task where their creativity comes into play. To this end, a unique infrastructure is developed that serves as a single point of integration to easily deploy, orchestrate, and develop components that cover a wide range of different tasks in modern manufacturing environments. The idea of achieving a high degree of reusability is similar to the open source software movement and can lead to high cost efficiency and low access barriers to solutions from competitors. This modern approach is an appealing alternative to the classical approach of rebuilding solutions to specific problems from scratch. To make this vision work, a highly modular approach is envisaged, from which people can creatively select and combine modules until the problem is addressed without being overwhelmed by technical issues. We believe that this approach can significantly accelerate human-driven innovation in manufacturing process design.
SHOP4CF strives to build a holistic ecosystem that facilitates communication, collaboration, knowledge and technology transfer in a community that includes SMEs, universities, research institutes and system integrators.
It is worth noting that non-classical approaches (an example for an classical approaches is the rigid programming of industrial robots), which involve humans as an essential part, usually require advanced, interdisciplinary methods. Hence, knowledge transfer takes place not only between component developers, but also between disciplines within universities and research institutes to develop techniques based on other disciplines:
Biology (e.g., employing (spiking) neural networks),
Psychology (e.g., reinforcement learning)
Physics (e.g., advanced models for digital twins to simulate real world dynamics)
The concept behind SHOP4CF can have a strong positive impact on the labour market as people in manufacturing are not simply replaced by automated processes but gain new importance as a complement to machines. However, another implication is that new rules are being developed within SHOP4CF to address novel issues related to privacy, security, safety, legal aspects, or data ownership. It is worth noting that a successful digital platform that meets the described requirements can significantly increase the level of automation and maintain the competitive edge of European companies in the manufacturing sector.