The FACTS4WORKERS project is a 4-year project (2014-2018) financed under the European Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation programme – Factories of the Future Public Private Partnership. The goal of the project is to increase problem-solving and innovation skills of workers in manufacturing sector in Europe.

Since the global economic crisis hit in 2008 and during the post-recovery period the European manufacturing sector has been battling numerous challenges. Share of Europe's manufacturing relative to the other emerging markets has dropped, ageing workforce and lack of knowledge among the younger workers is a challenge for many countries, huge leaps in robotisation and Internet of Things in the last decade alone have all had a profound effect on the manufacturing sector.

In order to help European companies, cope with these challenges, the FACTS4WORKERS is one of the projects, chosen by the European Commission under the Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation programme, to serve as a testing pilot model for advanced technological solution that would meet the new challenges.

The aim of FACTS4WORKERS project is to use advanced IT-based solutions that would help manufacturing workers on the shop floor to increase not just their productivity, but to empower them by giving greater part of decision-making into their hands. This makes manufacturing work less mundane and helps to give worker self-respect, having a positive net effect not just on worker himself/herself but on the society as a whole. The solutions developed in FACTS4WORKERS are based on advanced IT-solutions that are developed by technological partners and R&D centres represented in the consortium. The developed solutions include a personalised augmented operator, knowledge sharing and management database, self-learning machine module, in-situ mobile learning for the production post.

A thorough research has been made also on market potential for developed solutions within each target industry. The breakthrough solutions developed thus far hold great potential. The consortium aims to harness this potential and work tirelessly to assure effective implementation through showcase pilot solutions around Europe, bringing improvements to shop floor working condition in European factories and giving European manufacturing a new perspective in the 21st century.

In order to ensure a wide representability of the project, the FACTS4WORKERS consortium covers a variety of industries from different countries. Automotive, steel, tooling and plastics sectors are represented with companies coming from Germany, Slovenia and Spain. Such variety of pilot sites covers the diverse landscape of European industry, taking into account strong national and even regional factors that shape European industry from country to country, from region to region, from city to city.

The 15-partner member consortium covers 8 European countries (Austria, Belgium, Finland, Germany, Italy, Slovenia, Spain and Switzerland). The consortium is highly diverse with large enterprises, SMEs, research centres and universities. The FACTS4WORKERS focus on small companies reflects the aims of European Commission to include more small and medium companies into European research projects. Moreover, the industries chosen are well suited to represent their importance not just on the European level but also national levels for each country. This will make the proliferation of solutions developed within FACTS4WORKERS easier since it will raise awareness and interest among potential private and governmental stakeholders.

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Lea Hannola
Associate Professor
LBM Industrial Engineering and Management