The open-source platform dedicated to manufacturing SMEs in Europe
Martel is at work to develop the software architecture that will support the development of European Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) through a platform that will enable the delivery of affordable artificial intelligence (AI) services to the manufacturing industry and improve product quality, optimise production line configuration and level up staff productivity.
The solution being developed in the Martel Lab, within the KITT4SME project, will allow a modular, innovative, and easy-to-adopt open-source platform architecture.
How the platform will work
The KITT4SME software platform is a service mesh, multi-tenant, cloud architecture designed to assemble AI components from a marketplace into a tailor-made service offering for a factory, connect these components to the shop floor, and enable them to store and exchange data in an interoperable, secure, privacy-preserving and scalable way. The platform provides an “information highway” so that data can travel from the shop floor to the AI brain and from the AI to the factory.
The platform is expected to be able to acquire data from the shop floor through a diverse range of Internet of Things (IoT) devices and cyber-physical systems such as wearable devices, environmental sensors, cameras and robots. Data can flow in the other direction too, i.e. from the platform to the shop floor, as AI components issue commands to control devices or suggest corrective actions during the workflow.
The KITT4SME workflow comprises five high-level activities: Diagnose, Compose, Sense, Intervene and Evolve. The first step in the workflow is the Diagnose step where given the current state of the shop floor, the system determines, through a smart questionnaire, how AI can help to transition the shop floor to a more desirable state. Following that, in the Compose step, out of a graph of software components, their wiring and configuration, that is the marketplace catalogue, a minimal sub-graph is selected which is suitable to achieve the desired transition to a better state. Then this tailor-made software kit is deployed to the cloud as a set of services. As soon as the shop floor is connected to those services, data start flowing from the factory to the cloud where the tailor-made kit detects and explains anomalies and visualises key performance indicators (KPIs). These activities comprise the Sensing step. In the Intervene step, the system suggests and negotiates corrective actions to steer the shop floor towards the desired production and staff well-being goals. Finally, in the Evolve step, the system analyses the outcome to improve the Diagnose and Compose steps and to propose personalised staff training.
Leveraging state-of-the-art technology
Martel develops the software architecture to support European SMEs and the platform relies on a dedicated cluster software infrastructure. This cluster software referred to as “mesh infrastructure”, orchestrates the deployment and operation of services and provides a uniform, programmable interface to computational resources (CPU, memory, storage) across cluster nodes. Additionally, the mesh infrastructure provides a programmable interface to manage, secure and observe service traffic independently of services. Kubernetes together with Istio form the preferred software stack to provide the mesh infrastructure, although similar products may be employed.
“From a software standpoint, a key project objective is to combine both the FIWARE and RAMP platforms in a unique software offering tailored to the manufacturing industry. FIWARE is an open-source platform to build Internet of Things (IoT) applications. It provides the building blocks to acquire data from the shop floor and create a digital representation of it which can then be queried and manipulated to control physical devices in the factory, e.g. stop a conveyor belt. RAMP is a digital marketplace where Smart industry solution providers can offer their software to manufacturing industry customers. A key project objective is to combine both the FIWARE and RAMP platforms in a unique software offering tailored to the manufacturing industry”, said Federico Facca, Chief Technology Officer at Martel.
KITT4SME (platform-enabled KITs of arTificial intelligence FOR an easy uptake by SMEs) is an EU-funded project and specifically targets European SMEs and mid-caps to provide them with scope-tailored and industry-ready hardware, software and organisational kits delivered as modularly customisable digital platforms, that seamlessly introduce artificial intelligence in their production systems.