AI from first idea to operation and service – East Westphalia-Lippe region has it all

Artificial intelligence has long been more than a trend and is increasingly being used in entrepreneurial practice – also in the East Westphalia-Lippe region, Germany. Here, the two initiatives AI Living Lab and AI Marketplace work hand in hand to support companies in their digital transformation through AI: from the initial product idea to production.

The SmartFactoryOWL uses demonstrators to show how AI can be used in practice. Since 2021, CUNA Produktion has been complementing SmartFactoryOWL in Lemgo as a real economic production facility and, in the context of the BMWK-funded project “AI Living Lab“, is taking developments in the field of AI to a new level.

AI training with real industrial data

Using real industrial data sets from the plastics production of CUNA Produktion, AI experts can train their models and realize implementations on the production floor. The added values of the technologies are immediately validated and innovation cycles are significantly shortened as a result. The technologies not only reach a higher level of maturity earlier, but also clearly prove added values or problems.

Sustainable and bio-based plastic cups of the company CUNA Products GmbH are manufactured in the CUNA production. For the company’s managing director Rafael Dyll, customer feedback on his products is of course of enormous importance in addition to high-quality and stable production. Mr. Dyll can derive entrepreneurial strategies from the information about the use of the coffee mug and also adapt the product features of the mug accordingly.

Customer feedback for product development

The Fraunhofer Institutes IOSB-INA and IEM are addressing this challenge in the use case “Smart product development and product optimization through customer feedback”. Here, the researchers are asking themselves how decentralized information from the use of the coffee cup can be integrated and provide Mr. Dyll with immediate added value in the development of the CUNA cups. The fundamental technology for this is the digital twin of the product based on the Industrie 4.0 Asset Administration Shell (AAS), in which data from customer usage is captured, processed and stored.

“Crucial to this is a simple user interface for customers. This was solved via a web interface in which the experts from the AI Living Lab ask for the most important points of feedback. These include, for example, questions about how often the customer drinks coffee, how she likes the color of the cup, or how often she has reused the cup.”

Nissrin Perez, Fraunhofer IOSB-INA

The web-based questionnaire is accessed via a QR code on the cup or a web link. Things get exciting for the data experts when the customers’ details are subsequently categorized and transferred to the AAS. The challenge here is in particular to categorize open feedback, which can be mapped to product aspects via keyword analysis on an AI basis and transferred to the categories. The goal is to store this customer feedback in the administration shell for the product as well as in a central database. In this way, CUNA Products GmbH can access this information at any time, evaluate it and use it for its own product development.

In the course of 2022, implementations and tests of these and other use cases from the AI Real Lab will be realized at CUNA Production in the SmartFactoryOWL. These will be made available to a broad public. On the one hand, data and algorithms can be accessed via the data portal of the AI Living Lab. On the other hand, results can be presented on site and discussed with experts about the use of technology.

AI initiatives in East Westphalia-Lippe

The AI Marketplace and the KI Reallabor are two strategic initiatives of the Leading-Edge Cluster it’s OWL. Both projects are driven by the topic of artificial intelligence, but pursue different thrusts: The AI Marketplace is about tapping the potential of AI in the area of product creation. The KI Reallabor focuses on downstream processes of product creation such as production, operation or service. This results in numerous synergies: for example, recommendations from potential analyses of the AI Marketplace can be transferred by companies into implementation projects in the AI Living Lab. At the same time, real data from the AI Living Lab can be fed back to the AI Marketplace platform.

About SmartFactoryOWL

The SmartFactoryOWL in Lemgo is an Industry 4.0 fab lab jointly operated by Fraunhofer IOSB-INA and the OWL University of Applied Sciences. Since 2016, it has been researching and developing factory digitization technologies jointly and collaboratively between research and industry. Artificial intelligence technologies can be found in a wide range of applications in the SmartFactoryOWL, whether in automated machines for optimizing the energy consumption of a high-bay warehouse, in optimization procedures for production processes or in image processing for the recognition and quality control of natural products.

Fraunhofer IOSB-INA
Nissrin Perez
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