Initial situation: Austrian production companies manufacture goods of high quality and have a staff of well-trained employees. However, companies currently face technological and societal challenges to which they have to react to in order to continually provide competitive goods on an international level. These challenges include the demand of customers for individualized products, which leads to smaller lot sizes and faster production cycles. At the same time, production machines are more and more connected and equipped with sensors. This leads to an increased information density and more complexity for the workers, which induces a higher workload and stress. Furthermore, Austria is experiencing a demographic change. As Austrian citizens get older, they stay longer in the work force. All of these trends, as well as the goal to keep up the high quality of produced goods, lead to an increased need of optimized assistance for the worker in the factory.
Goals and innovation: The goal of the project partners in MMAssist II is to research and implement modular, reusable assistance systems for employees in production companies. For that, the project partners will work on the exemplary uses cases Maintenance and Service, Arming of Machines and Simultaneous Handling of Multiple Machines, and Assembly to analyze the technical and socio-economic requirements for assistance systems in these areas. Based on a strongly context-oriented requirements analysis, the partners will implement so-called “Assistance Units”, which are modular components for assistance systems. Assistance Units are defined in a way that they can be applied to different application contexts. The partners will implement a software framework with which Assistance Units can be dynamically configured to act as assistance system for a given application. To configure the Assistance Unit, different input and output modalities as well as modules for context generation are needed, which will also be developed in the project. To measure and evaluate the efficiency and feasibility of the project’s approach, the partners will implement lab-based prototypes of defined Assistance Units and evaluate them in real production environments.
Expected results: The project partners expect to gain a profound empirical and socio-technical understanding of the demands and requirements for assistance systems in the production context. These systems will consist of reusable, scientifically grounded Assistance Units that are thoroughly evaluated. The implemented assistance systems will be validated by workers of production companies in real production environments. This will lead to findings about the acceptance and user experience of workers who use assistance systems and a measurable reduced workload of the workers.