To keep manufacturing production competitive, managers must design and manage complex collaborative and reconfigurable production systems that make maximum use of new technologies. However, this still requires much research to unleash the full benefit of digital tools for manufacturing. The EU-funded ASSISTANT (LeArning and robuSt deciSIon SupporT sytem for agile mANufacTuring environments) project aims to develop breakthrough solutions for the manufacturing industry, using artificial intelligence to optimise production systems. One of the keystones of ASSISTANT is the creation of intelligent digital twins. By combining machine learning, optimisation, simulation, and domain models, ASSISTANT develops tools and solutions providing all required information to help production managers design production lines, plan production, and improve machine settings for effective and sustainable decisions that guarantee product quality and safety.

ASSISTANT operates on a budget of approximately EUR 6 million and runs for 3 years starting from November 1st, 2020. To achieve its aims, ASSISTANT brings together partners from France, Luxembourg, Germany, Belgium, Sweden, Greece and Ireland.

With a multidisciplinary consortium combining key skills in AI, manufacturing, edge computing and robotics, ASSISTANT aims to create intelligent digital twins through the joint use of machine learning (ML), optimization, simulation and domain models. The resulting tools permit to design and operate complex collaborative and reconfigurable production systems based on data collected from various sources such as IoT devices. ASSISTANT targets a significant increase in flexibility and reactivity, products/processes quality, and in robustness of manufacturing systems, by integrating human and machine intelligence in a sustainable learning relationship.

ASSISTANT provides decision makers with generative design-based software for all manufacturing decisions. Rather than writing ad hoc code for each manufacturing sector, it provides a set of intelligent digital twins that self-adapt to the manufacturing environment. It promotes a methodology that enhances generative design with learning aspects of AI thanks to the data available in manufacturing. ASSISTANT aims to synthesize predictive/prescriptive models adjusted to the shop floor for each decision levels. Digital twins will be used as oracles by ML in order to converge towards models in phase with reality.

This means that rather than writing specific code to cover a restricted set of goals/scenarios/hypotheses for a manufacturing system and a decision level, ASSISTANT will aim at learning models that can be used by standard optimization libraries. In this context, ML is used to predict parameter values, characterize parameters uncertainty, and acquire physical constraints. ASSISTANT will experiment this methodology on a significant panel of use cases selected for their relevance in the current context of the digital transformation of production in major manufacturing sectors undergoing rapid transformations like the energy, the industrial equipment, and automotive sectors which already make extensive use of digital twins.

INTRASOFT’s RID department is responsible for the conceptual architecture of the project and will undertake the continuous integration of the ASSISTANT platform. In addition, INTRASOFT will lead the work-package on Communication, Dissemination and Exploitation.

The ASSISTANT project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 101000165.

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