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Elaborating the potential of artificial intelligence together

In its latest paper, “Collaborative data-driven business models,” Plattform Industrie 4.0, an initiative for expanding expertise and standardizing digital technologies in the production environment, has advocated cross-company and cross-institutional collaboration.

This refers in particular to the economic potential of data-driven value networks and the development of new business models. In contrast to classic market mechanisms such as the isolated use of competitive advantages and unique selling points through individual, non-interoperable, technological solutions, there is a paradigm shift, particularly in the environment of start-up and network formation area of product development, which points to the future of Industry 4.0. New models of collaboration, especially in the cooperative use of data, promise added value for all network players. Flexibility and resilience are just two characteristics attributed to these new models of cooperation. In mechanical engineering, for example, data from upstream or downstream players in the value chain can be integrated into a company’s own operations. Information about suppliers’ products or customers’ use of the company’s own range of products and services can thus be incorporated into the company’s own value creation process and optimized. Against the backdrop of ever faster changing market conditions and requirements, the increasing importance of global competition, and with a view to economic or corporate crisis management such as in times of a pandemic, these added values of value creation networks seem essential. “Open sharing of data based on common rules in a multilateral collaboration that extends across companies and competitors can significantly increase this potential,” the authors say.

The model of “Collaborative Condition Monitoring” is exemplified – an industry-hybrid approach to data-driven condition monitoring in manufacturing that creates an ecosystem with benefits for all stakeholders. Open exchange within a three-tier network is a central element of this form of cooperation, he said, which thus clearly differs from classic bilateral partnerships.

AI on the way to reality: contribution from Lemgo

Data-driven production and new forms of collaborationCollaboration to drive it forward can form a large intersection with be supported by new artificial intelligence (AI) technologies. Fraunhofer IOSB-INA in Lemgo has been successfully conducting research in this area for more than ten years, in cooperation with colleges and universities as well as with business partners from the Ostwestfalen-Lippe region and beyond. Within this framework, the Fraunhofer researchers have made a noteworthy contribution to testing and improving the cooperation models named in the paper, among others, by setting up a real laboratory for artificial intelligence in production.

Since 202019, the AI reallab in Lemgo is a place ecosystem for the joint collection and open and sovereign processing of production data for machine learning or deep learning methods. This high-quality data from the industrial environment of SmartFactoryOWL or regional companies is made available to an AI community to tackle use cases and problems. This solution development takes place, among other things, in hackathons by AI experts. The results paper of the Industrie 4.0 platform states: “Under the leadership of Fraunhofer IOSB-INA, innovative AI technologies are being researched together with regional companies and network partners under various framework conditions of Industrie 4.0. For this AI real lab, real data from a complex process chain are used to scientifically investigate the technical aspects of CCM. The goal is to evaluate and further develop AI methods in a realistic industrial environment. in the process, data from different sources is merged in a semantically interoperable manner. The knowledge thus gained under laboratory conditions is an important prerequisite for the reliable application of AI in real production plants.”

In this context, the “AI Community OWL”, an initiative of companies, institutes and private individuals, which was also established in Lemgo, is also driving developments in the AI sector beyond daily business – this is where technology enthusiasts and experts meet around the topic of artificial intelligence, forums and different event formats are created, hackathons are held and much more. The AI Challenge Days, which took place for the first time in June 2020, are a good example of how AI- or data-focused collaborations work across company and industry boundaries. The next AI Challenge Days are scheduled to be held as early as the fourth quarter of 2020, following the first successful event. New business partners have already signaled their interest in participating.

Read the results paper of Plattform Industrie 4.0 here.

The Industrie 4.0 platform is a joint initiative of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy and the Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Federal Minister of Economics Peter Altmaier and Federal Minister of Research Anja Karliczek are heading the platform together with high-ranking representatives from companies, science, associations and trade unions. In working groups, experts develop strategies, technical approaches and recommendations on the most important topics of Industry 4.0.