New Industrial Systems: Chatty Factories

Lead Research Organisation: Cardiff University
Department Name: Computer Science

Abstract

The first industrial revolution saw a transformation based on water and steam power. The second harnessed electricity to support mass production. The third used electronics and IT to innovate and automate. Now, the World Economic Forum defines the fourth industrial revolution as "a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres". This builds on the rapid growth of the third revolution to bring data, artificial intelligence and robotic fabrication systems to the forefront of the manufacturing industry.

Current manufacturing systems are characterised by a multitude of interconnected procedures that include many discrete, highly specialised and human intensive activities, such as: consumer research, concept design, engineering design & prototyping, and manufacturing operations that combine robots with human workers on the factory floor. Two significant limitations of current manufacturing systems are (a) the inability to quickly and continuously refine product design in response to real-time consumer insights (i.e. how the product is being used and its 'experience' of the world) and (b) the inability to quickly reconfigure and reskill the human and robotic production elements on the factory floor in response to real-time data captured from embedded product sensors. For example - if sensor data suggests a product needs a design change based on its current use, how do we update the fabrication instructions and reshuffle the factory floor between shifts, and tell human and robot workers how to alter their duties within minutes?

Our vision for the manufacturing factory of the future is to embrace the rapid growth of internet-connected products via embedded sensors producing massive volumes of data, and transform these traditionally discrete activities into one seamless process that is capable of real-time continuous product refinement. Firstly, mindful of the potential disruption to labour markets, we will develop new fundamental theory that relates to learning and seamless communication between products, humans, robots and factory floor operations - to ensure equality and collaborative real-time learning. Secondly, we will develop data-driven systems that provide an auditable, secure and seamless flow of information between all operations inside and outside the factory to facilitate real-time adaption and re-orientation of the entire manufacturing system based on data harvested via product-embedded sensors and Internet of Things (IoT) connectivity.

The research will achieve a radical interruption of the existing 'consumer sovereignty' model based around surveys and market research - and introduce 'use sovereignty' via an embedded understanding of consumer behaviour - making products that are fit for purpose based on how they are used. This will not be unmediated but buffered by robust, secure and interpretable data analysis at scale - with ethical integration of human labour. Designers will have a completely transformed role being 'embedded in production' in a world of "chatty" products and a dynamically evolving factory floor.

Our approach will transform the ways in which traditional factories are reconfigured in real time by adopting a first mover approach to real time reconfiguration, production element reskilling (human, robot or both collaboratively). Radically, we will use exopedagogy, the first time it has ever been applied in a practical setting and couple this with insights from robotics. Exopedagogy considers alien forms of learning and uses those metaphors to develop models of learning which go beyond human learning. In contrast to existing techniques such as jet engine telemetry that allow for optimisation tweaks around a clearly defined product, our work will allow for both i) redesigns to support new uses or usage patterns; ii) generation of new products based on observing alternative use.

Planned Impact

The key impact pathways (aside from the traditional publication of scientific papers) centre around creating and learning from case studies and demonstrators of our novel approach to manufacturing in factories of the future. These will provide a grounded route to engage with industry, and a testbed for emerging knowledge as well as a high visibility public engagement output. In particular, this will allow us to create impact in the areas outlined below.

- working with our commercial partners to ensure that the research outputs are translated into usable and appropriate knowledge. To do this, we will start from a process model of existing manufacturing systems, developed alongside our user partners and work with them to develop visions of how these systems could look in the future, culminating in transformative case studies that implement the scientific novelty established through the proposed work programme. Discussions with Airbus have been successful to date, with alignments to internal projects identified and pathways to partnership and collaboration defined.

- we have the Head of Department, Skills and Labour Markets for CEDEFOP ( Centre Européen pour le Développement de la Formation Professionnelle), the EU agency for expertise on skills and vocational training on the advisory board for the project. CEDEFOP have provisionally agreed to assist us in creating a workshop of experts on the implications of our project for skills training in manufacturing in the UK and in terms of integration with European supply chains.

- the Careers and Enterprise partnership (careersandenterprise.co.uk), Tower Hamlets Local Authority and private sector careers advisors such as DMH and Associated Limited have agreed to work with us in terms of the impact of our work on skills formation and careers guidance.

- for public engagement with a wider audience we will disseminate research findings to the London Design and Engineering UTC (University and Technology College). This will allow us to disseminate our ideas to 14 - 19 year old students through talks and potentially workshops, hence influencing the next generation of designers and engineers regarding the potential of our project

- further utilize links to our industrial partners and MTC, HVM Catapult etc to engage with industry and explore applications in data analytics, exopedagogy, design and manufacturing resulting from this project. This will be exploited by holding at least 2 public dissemination events (one in the UK and one in Europe) open to the public and with industrial support.

- investigate the possibility of creating a commercial vehicle for our research, that would include new reskilling techniques, continuous digital ethnography and data responsive designs as areas for consultancy and deployment

- create a briefing note on the skills and societal impact of our project which we will disseminate through our website and also in discussion with youth organisations such as Soapbox (http://www.soapboxislington.org.uk/) who consider the future of digital skills for young people.

Measures of Success:
To assess the impact of this project key metrics have been identified. These include:
- At least 2 public dissemination events; one at the midpoint of the project to measure current success and applicability to industrial needs and one at the end to highlight achievements overall and resulting vision for the future.
- Publication of research outputs at a minimum of 6 peer reviewed international conferences and in 6 journals
- Securing of IP for any new technology and methodologies, including reskilling techniques, continuous digital ethnography and data responsive designs as areas for consultancy and deployment through participating institute's Technology Transfer offices.
- At least 2 well defined case studies that showcase the transformative nature of the research alongside industry partners.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Title Bluetooth speakers equipped with commercially available sensors and a microprocessor with wireless connectivity. 
Description Bluetooth speaker created for a user-study in the Chatty Factories research project. As an initial research probe for the project we developed the Chatty Speaker - a Bluetooth speaker equipped with commercially available sensors and a microprocessor with wireless connectivity. A small ethnographic study enabled us to gather some initial raw data of product use 'in-the-wild' and start to visualize this through traditional methods and 'digital-twin' style interfaces 
Type Of Art Artefact (including digital) 
Year Produced 2018 
Impact 10-15 speakers were built for the initial ethnographic study to collect data on the use of products in the wild. Experience of the artefacts will be used to inform subsequent research studies. 
 
Description Invitation to present to Lloyds Insurance Underwriting on risks in human-robot collaborative working by co-investigator David Branson as part of an event organised by Lloyds and the University of Surrey. These organisers then authored a report "Taking control: robots and risk" in which this input was acknowledged as 'expertise, feedback and assistance with the study'.
Geographic Reach Multiple continents/international 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a advisory committee
URL https://www.lloyds.com/news-and-risk-insight/risk-reports/library/technology/taking-control
 
Description Invited by EPSRC to Trustworthy Autonomous Systems (TAS) Town Hall Meeting to develop and define a research Hub in the area
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a advisory committee
URL https://epsrc.ukri.org/funding/calls/trustworthy-autonomous-systems-hub-outline-call/
 
Description Professor Pete Burnap's appointment to Government's AI Council which has been set up to support delivery of the UK's Modern industrial Strategy.
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Membership of a guideline committee
URL https://www.gov.uk/government/news/leading-experts-appointed-to-ai-council-to-supercharge-the-uks-ar...
 
Description I-CUBE -Funding collaboration between Horizon and Nottingham University. Chatty Factories link is through Nottingham's Engineering personel.Dept of Comp Sc.also involved in I-CUBE.
Amount £115,000 (GBP)
Funding ID RIS Project ID 893353. I-CUBE: Industrial Co-bots Understanding Behaviour. 
Organisation HORIZON Digital Economy Research 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2018 
End 03/2020
 
Description Leveraged internal investment
Amount £80,000 (GBP)
Organisation University of Nottingham 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 05/2018 
End 06/2018
 
Description New Industrial Systems: Chatty Factories
Amount £1,467,376 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/R021031/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 12/2017 
End 12/2020
 
Description Advisory Panel of representatives from manufacturing companies and from intermediary bodies between industry and academia. Will happen on a six monthly cycle. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Purpose is to seek focused feedback and advice on our developing research objectives and outputs to ensure that they are informed by real industrial needs through means of a workshop. Twelve organisations attended the first workshop event in September 2018 and the outcome was 1) a short report on the main feedback and 2) agreement by the participants to join our Advisory Panel (AP) for the duration of the 3 year project. The number of AP members has already grown to fourteen from further engagement activities and we expect it to grow further.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018,2019
 
Description Attendance at TWI Digital Manufacturing Conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Opportunity to identify industrialists with interests that overlap with Chatty Factories in order to: seek opportunity to promote and disseminate the project; encourage attendance at our showcase event in Jan 2020; target potential case study partners.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.twi-global.com/media-and-events/events-diary/digital-manufacturing-conference
 
Description Attending Annual MTC conference on digitalising manufacturing 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Opportunity to identify industrialists with interests that overlap with Chatty Factories in order to: seek opportunity to promote and disseminate the project; encourage attendance at our showcase event in Jan 2020; target potential case study partners.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL http://www.the-mtc.org/conference/digitalising-manufacturing-2019
 
Description Bi-lateral meetings with 3 different companies/organisations to disseminate project, and invite further engagement. Software/luxury bike manufacturing/ joining technologies 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact 2Bi-lateral meetings with 3 different companies/organisations to disseminate project, and invite further engagement and participation in case studies, provide feedback on use of the company's tools. The main impact in two cases was to take the project closer to signing up business partners to help deliver proof of concept case studies.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Bi-lateral meetings with 4 different companies/organisations to disseminate project and invite further engagement. Luxury Automotive/Joining science/industrial software. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Meetings with interested individuals from manufacturing companies and related bodies to promote and present project and invite further engagement. These meetings have translated into a number of outcomes: agreement to membership of our advisory panel; possible offers of potential case studies to be explored; a request to be kept informed.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Bi-lateral meetings with 6 different companies/organisations to disseminate project and invite further engagement. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Meetings with interested individuals from manufacturing companies and related bodies to promote and present project and invite further engagement. These meetings have translated into a number of outcomes: agreement to membership of our advisory panel; possible offers of potential case studies to be explored; a request to be kept informed.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018,2019
 
Description Conference paper delivered to International Conference on Critical education, LONDON, JULY 2018 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Delivery of conference paper to academic audience by Professor John Preston -title: 'Digital manufacturing, Vale and Artificial intelligence.
'Abstract: This paper makes three contentions. Firstly, that digital manufacturing and 'Industry 4.0' do not represent an ontological break with previous forms of industrialisation but rather accelerate forms of intensification and transcendence of limits. Secondly, that' value' in manufacturing is a social substance, rather than a technological or physiological one. Thirdly, that the products of an autonomous AI are little different from theories of the automatic expansion of value but that AI is not the materialisation of value into the realm of the physical.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://icce2018.wordpress.com
 
Description Data Play 2019: Design Informatics Pavilion (Concurrent with Edinburgh Festival but not part of it ) Team Contributors - Dan Burnett, Katerina Gorkovenko, Daniel Richards, Dave Murray-Rust. 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The Design Informatics Pavilion is a pop-up exhibition space designed by biomorphis architects featuring a range of objects and experiences that invite the general public to step into the future. The exhibition will be interactive, mixing design with technology and exploring a number of themes aimed at provoking discussions on what it means to "design with data". Will include demonstration activity and research on opinions of general public.

Chatty Factories is one of seven projects featured.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.designinformatics.org/news/data-play-2019-design-informatics-pavilion/
 
Description Exploratory meeting with Nat West regional relationship managers 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact The Nat West relationship managers wish to connect SMEs with academic experts and vice versa. Their objective is to make sure their SME customer community has access to information that would be of help in developing their business and they wish to promote Chatty Factories in this manner. They are also willing to scout for SMEs who might be interesting in more active collaboration with the team. The Chatty team expect to be speaking at some regional events as a result of this contact and to be inviting SMEs fromthis network to future project-run events.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description IET Scottish workshop on Design and Manufacture for Productivity - presentation by Katya Gorkovenko 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact A showcase event to highlight research to a wide ranging audience of academics, SME's and general public. The organisers aim to inform Scotland about the future potential in design and manufacturing by highlighting the exciting research currently being developed to aid business productivity improvements. The event organisers wanted to create a focus on novel research that would encourage business' to see the potential of academia and in particular what has been achieved- including Chatty Factories..
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://events.theiet.org/iet-scottish-workshop-on-design-and-manufacture-for-productivity/
 
Description Poster presented to PACTMAN/TIPS IoT symposium Dec 2018 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Poster presentation by James Thorp to Pactman run symposium. Pactman is an EPSRC-funded project on Trust, Identity, Privacy and Security in the Digital Economy.
Title of poster: 'Visualising the Internet of Things for Data-driven Sustainable Design'.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL http://pactman.uk/building-a-community-of-uk-tips-researchers-2/
 
Description Run mid-project Showcase event for the Chatty Factories project 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Run mid-project Showcase event for the project, targeting both industry and academia - focused on disseminating the project to a wider academic and industrial community and to pitch the business case to potential case study partners to get involved in proof of concept case study.

Registered attendees numbered 46 from business and 33 from Academia.

We succeeded in attracting one definite case study partner and made further progress with another couple.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/chatty-factories-a-showcase-of-developing-work-registration-658051559...
 
Description Workshop led by project team to determine what information industrial designers would want from data generated from sensors on products as they are in use by their customers. London 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact 12 participants from industrial and academic design backgrounds were taken through visioning exercises by the team to help them think about and describe what information designers might find useful about how their products are used in the wild, and in what form they might best receive this information.

The information generated by the workshops is informing the research team's general approach to data driven design as well as the development of digital products for demonstration, which is why the main impact is 'decision made or influenced'. From the participant viewpoint, there were requests made about future participation and involvement as well as requests for further info.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.chattyfactories.org/workshop/
 
Description Workshop to determine what information industrial designers would want from data generated from sensors on products as they are in use by their customers. Edinburgh. 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact 11 participants from industrial and academic design backgrounds were taken through visioning exercises by the team to help them think about and describe what information designers might find useful about how their products are used in the wild, and in what form they might best receive this information.

The information generated by the workshops is informing the research team's general approach to data driven design as well as the development of digital products for demonstration, which is why the main impact is 'decision made or influenced'. From the participant viewpoint, there were requests made about future participation and involvement as well as requests for further info.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.chattyfactories.org/workshop/
 
Description Workshop to determine what information industrial designers would want from data generated from sensors on products as they are in use by their customers. Lancaster Location. 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact 9 participants from industrial and academic design backgrounds were taken through visioning exercises by the team to help them think about and describe what information designers might find useful about how their products are used in the wild, and in what form they might best receive this information.
The information generated by the workshops is informing the research team's general approach to data driven design as well as the development of digital products for demonstration, which is why the main impact is 'decision made or influenced'. From the participant viewpoint, there were requests made about future participation and involvement as well as requests for further info.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.chattyfactories.org/workshop/