Skills - Knowledge-workers

The European Factories of the Future are expected to provide global manufacturing competitiveness, but also to create a large amount of work opportunities for the European population. Future factory workers are therefore key resources for industrial competitiveness as well as important consumers. However, the changing demographics and high skill requirements faced by European industry pose new challenges. Workers with high knowledge and skills (“knowledge workers”) will be scarce resources.

The classification shown below has been successfully applied under the Ace factories cluster projects (A4BLUE, Factory2Fit, HUMAN, INCLUSIVE, and MANUWORK) funded under the horizon 2020 call “FOF-04-2016: Continuous adaptation of work environments with changing levels of automation in evolving production systems”.  More details can be found in The ACE factories white paper “Human-centred factories from theory to industrial practice. Lessons learned and recommendations” (More information).

  • Augmented and Virtual Worker
  • Social and collaborative worker
  • Super-strong worker
  • Health and happy operator
  • Smarter and Analytical operator


Workers must undertake regular training to acquire and refresh the skills that are required due to new procedures. Providing adaptive tools that deal with human variability for training purposes will facilitate the learning process. Mixed Reality (MR) technologies allow the adaptability of training and guidance to changing circumstances (e.g. new devices, new procedures, new workers, workers with different skills, etc.).  (Source)


The Social and collaborative operator concept includes, on the one hand, solutions to support participatory design and knowledge sharing and, on the other hand, human-robots collaboration solutions. Knowledge sharing and communication are key aspects in the industrial work context.  (Source)

The Super-strong operator concept involves the usage of wearable apparatus, such as exoskeleton devices, that have the potential to reduce the operator’s physical fatigue, increase their strength, overall safety and productivity
Health and happy operator.  (Source)

The Healthy and happy operator concept can be supported by solutions that monitor physical and mental fatigue, and solutions that give the worker motivating feedback. While many traditional ergonomics and physical safety challenges disappear when operator work becomes knowledge based, new challenges related to cognitive ergonomics may arise as a result of higher mental workload. (Source)

The smart and analytical operator is assisted by an Intelligent Personal Assistant (IPA). This is a software agent or artificial intelligence that has been developed to help a smart operator in interfacing with machines, computers, databases and other information systems as well as managing time commitments and performing tasks or services in a human-like interaction.  (Source)