Factories in which forklift trucks operate and serve lines independently, in which robots hand each other the individual components, where machines plan the production process together, and humans are no longer involved – artificial intelligence (AI) makes many of these future scenarios conceivable for the production environment. Together with the Pro²Future research center, Fronius is developing scenarios of how a future like this could look.
Since its establishment in April 2017, the Pro²Future research center has made a name for itself with more than 135 scientific publications. The 40 employees are supported by over 30 partners from the field of science and more than 40 industrial companies. Together they conduct intensive research into cognitive products and production systems.
Fronius is particularly involved in the field of human-machine interaction. The top priority for the welding technology specialist is the role of humans at the center of developments: “Since the Industrial Revolution, humans have had to know everything about machines and be at their mercy. Machine learning could bring about a real revolution here – AI should make it possible in the future for machines to understand humans and respond to their needs,” says Helmut Ennsbrunner, Head of Pre-Development at Fronius Perfect Welding, enthusiastically. In addition, Fronius wants to promote the topic of predictive maintenance as part of its Pro²Future activities. Predictive maintenance should in future provide welding technology users with the ideal level of support in the production area. Fail-safe production systems and increased efficiency will be the result.
The first funding period ends in spring 2021. By giving the go-ahead for the second funding period until 2025, the evaluation committee highlighted the high technological relevance, the immediate industrial applicability of the research results, the cutting-edge research topics, the excellently coordinated partner consortium, and the internationally outstanding industrial partners. The COMET (Competence Centers for Excellent Technologies K1) funding program of the Austrian Research Promotion Agency thus enables activities on future topics that Pro²Future has identified as relevant to be carried out: