COALA PROJECT: A human-centred digital assistant for the manufacturing fields

Articles, News

December 19, 2022

COALA Project

Dear reader,

with this article we continue the series dedicated to the presentation of the projects of the ICT 38 Cluster (AI-MAN), engine and inspiration of our AI4MANUFACTURING Community Hub, open to all projects that want to participate. Our commitment is to create a community where to share and offer support, and provide knowledge about innovation, development and digitization, through the application of artificial intelligence technologies within the manufacturing sector.

Nine projects, funded under the ICT-38-2020 Call and focusing on integrating state-of-the-art AI technologies in the manufacturing domain, joined their forces towards more effective work on Artificial Intelligence in manufacturing. The AI-MAN cluster, supported by EFFRA and the Connected Factories project, aims at exploiting synergies and increasing the impacts.

ICT-38-2020 projects:

  • AI-PROFICIENT (Artificial Intelligence for improved PROduction efFICIEncy, quality and maintenance – 957391)
  • ASSISTANT (leArning and robuSt deciSIon SupporT systems for agile mANufacTuring environments – 101000165)
  • COALA (COgnitive Assisted agile manufacturing for a LAbor force supported by trustworthy Artificial Intelligence – 957296)
  • EU-Japan.AI (Advancing Collaboration and Exchange of Knowledge Between the EU and Japan for AI-Driven Innovation in Manufacturing – 957339)
  • knowlEdge (Towards AI powered manufacturing services, processes, and products in an edge-to-cloud-knowlEdge continuum for humans [in-the-loop] – 957331)
  • STAR (Safe and Trusted Human Centric Artificial Intelligence in Future Manufacturing Lines – 956573)
  • MAS4AI (Multi-Agent Systems for Pervasive Artificial Intelligence for assisting Humans in Modular Production Environments – 957204)
  • TEAMING.AI (Human-AI Teaming Platform for Maintaining and Evolving AI Systems in Manufacturing – 957402)
  • XMANAI (Explainable Manufacturing Artificial Intelligence – 957362)

About the name

COALA: Cognitive assisted agile manufacturing for a labor force supported by trustworthy Artificial Intelligence.

COALA provides a solution for cognitive assistance that consists of a composition of trustworthy AI components with a voice-enabled digital intelligent assistant as an interface. The solution will support workers that need to use analytics tools and new workers that perform on-the-job training.

About the project

COALA plans to demonstrate its solution in three complex and highly dynamic manufacturing domains that are confronted with the megatrend of Industry 4.0, but are characterized by different peculiarities and thus are a perfect fit to demonstrate the full potential of the COALA concept.

Textile Production

On-the-job training of new machine operators

White Goods Production

Quality inspection during Zero Hour Testing

Detergent Production

On-job training of new and temporary line managers, change over, issue handling

COALA Didactic Concept – Implementation in the Textile Production Use Case

This video shows a process-oriented didactic concept for the training and further education through using a voice-based assistant, the COALA Digital Intelligent Assistant.

About the Objectives

The COALA solution will transform how workers perform their jobs and it allows companies to maintain or increase the quality of their production processes and their products. The solution will support workers that need to use analytics tools and new workers that perform on-the-job training.

  • OBJ1: Reduce the number of quality incidents in manufacturing.

  • OBJ2: Reduce the time needed for on-the-job training of workers in manufacturing.

  • OBJ3: Overcome barriers and reduce skepticism regarding the use of a voice-enabled DIA
    in manufacturing environments.

  • OBJ4: Improve the competencies of blue-collar workers in managing AI opportunities, challenges, and risks in the shop floor.

The Expected Results

  1. COALA aims to develop a human-centred Digital Intelligent Assistant that provides a more proactive and pragmatic approach to support operative situations characterized by cognitive load, time pressure, and little or zero tolerance for quality issues. 
  2. COALA will provide a solution for cognitive assistance consisting of a composition of trustworthy AI components with a voice-enabled digital intelligent assistant as an interface. The solution will support workers that need to use analytics tools and new workers that perform on-the-job training.
  3. An education and training concept focusing on building blue-collar worker competencies in human-AI collaboration will be offered. 
  4. It aims to support the human-side of the collaboration by providing concept for teaching professionals systematically and, in the language of the workers, about the capabilities, risks, and limitations of AI in manufacturing.
  5. It will transform how workers perform their jobs and allow companies to increase their production process and product quality.

Reduce the number of quality incidents in manufacturing

Reduce the time needed for on-the-job training of workers in manufacturing

Overcome barriers regarding the use of a voice-enabled DIA in manufacturing

Improve competencies of manufacturing workers in managing AI opportunities

COALA Digital Intelligent Assistant with Cognitive Advisor feature for Production Line Operators

The Diversey liquid production use case in the COALA Project focusses on the implementation of COALA Digital Intelligent Assistant (DIA) to support production line operators towards optimum configuration of the production line for each product.

The Consortium

The COALA consortium combines multidisciplinary competences and resources from the industry and research community focusing in AI technologies in the manufacturing industry. It consists of  14 partners representing research institutes, technology providers and industrial partners (including 7 SMEs), from 5 EU member states, i.e. Germany, Greece, France, Italy and Netherlands. The project brings together experienced partners dedicated to contributing, each in their respective area of expertise, to the successful implementation of the project.

  • BIBA – Bremer Institut für Produktion und Logistik GmbH (as Coordinator)
  • Technische Universiteit Delft
  • ICCS – Institute of Communication and Computer Systems
  • ANITI – Artificial & Natural Intelligence Toulouse Institute, Université Fédérale Toulouse Midi-Pyrénées
  • Città Studi S.p.A.
  • Fratelli Piacenza S.p.A.
  • Whirlpool Management EMEA SRL
  • i-Deal S.R.L.
  • Gioumpitek Meleti Schediasmos Ylopoiisi Kai Polisi Ergon Pliroforikis Etaireia Periorismenis Efthynis
  • Holonix S.R.L.
  • Mews Partners
  • University of Bremen – Institut Technik und Bildung
  • STAM S.R.L.

COALA has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme
under grant agreement no. 957296