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Factory2Fit Spotlight Feature – Research Assistant Kostas Apostolakis

Factory2Fit Spotlight Feature

Research Assistant Kostas Apostolakis

Centre for Research and Technology Hellas (CERTH)

This week we spoke to Kostas Apostolakis, Research Assistant from the Centre for Research and Technology Hellas (CERTH), about his role in Factory2Fit and his views on the project.

Hi Kostas. Thanks for talking to us today. First, could you start by describing your typical working day?

I work as a developer in CERTH, based in Thessaloniki, Greece. My work complements the work of the researchers, as I provide them with the appropriate code and software components.

I start my day by checking my emails, as it is the quickest way for me to create a list of action points for the rest of the day, or the entire week. And I work my way through these action points. My working day involves some meetings with my colleagues and supervisors.

What do you like most about the role? 

I enjoy the opportunity to stay up-to-date with current state-of-the-art and to work on things that are being published and researched on. Most of all I enjoy being able to work with incredibly talented people. People that work extremely hard and are experts in their domains. I see it as an opportunity for me to learn from them and take in as much as I can.

How do your professional interests match the objectives of Factory2Fit?

Independently, I work a lot as a game developer, and here in CERTH I focus on developing games for different European research projects.

As for Factory2Fit, we mainly contribute to the project in the fields of virtual and augmented reality and gamification. One of the goals of the project is to increase the attractiveness of the factory as a place of employment and a working environment.

The aim is to reach that goal through technologies like adaptation, gamification and virtual and augmented reality solutions. The actual outcome is that the more a job will act like a game (with goals, real-time feedback and opportunities to learn and master skills), the more it will increase its appeal to people.

So as a game developer, I see this as an exciting opportunity to bring technology that is traditionally associated with the gaming industry into a new and different environment.

What is unique about Factory2Fit in your opinion?

One of the key points I find new and exciting is how Factory2Fit places the worker’s needs and wellbeing at the centre of the project. Essentially, Factory2Fit is about catering to the needs of the workers. It’s about increasing their satisfaction and helping them to learn to design their own training, which in turn will help workers become more productive and increase satisfaction, as well as the adaptation of workplaces. And I find this the major contribution of the project.

What does Factory2Fit have in common with other EU-funded research projects?

The project could collaborate with several other projects that are already running. There are many opportunities in which we have already identified cooperating fields. So Factory2Fit could build on other projects that have worked in Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality, in training solutions, knowledge sharing, user experience frameworks, reconfigurable manufacturing systems, but first and foremost it is responsible research and innovation that is in common.

Has anything surprised you in the first months of the project?

It’s still pretty early in the project to be surprised. However, I am really impressed by the high level of coordination and communication between the project partners.

Partners are very well coordinated. There are lots of teleconferences. There is a flexible document sharing platform, which makes it easier to follow very well-laid plans for deliverable submission. And this is good because it shows partners’ dedication to fulfilling the Factory2Fit goals.

What do you see as the biggest challenge for Factory2Fit?

The biggest challenge is to actually deliver on Factory2Fit’s vision and goals. The main goal of this project is to have a difference in factory workers’ everyday lives, to help them improve, be more productive and enjoy themselves more.

Through the use cases we have planned in the project, it’s challenging for us to be able to tell that we have achieved this –to show that the technologies we are building are having an impact on people’s lives.

Describe the coordination between CERTH and the other partners? Do you build on each other’s expertise?

As leaders of Work Package 3 (‘Methods and tools for continuous adaptation of the manufacturing process’) we are working closely with all partners involved in the tasks of this work package – Amorph Systems, Continental, Prima Power, TUC, UTRC-I, and Visual Components.

There is a very high level of communication between partners. And all bottom-up ideas are introduced in teleconferences in a timely fashion. This means that presenters can get rapid feedback and discuss details with other partners, which keep ideas flowing and fresh. This also leads to a better understanding and, therefore, more concrete development.

Are there three key words that come to mind when describing the overall impact of Factory2Fit?

The first word I would choose is ‘Adaptability’: the design of the participatory work design tools and how we aim to increase the number of workers that are fit for automation work.

Next I would choose ‘Satisfaction’: empowering workers to learn to develop their own skills, and also achieving increased engagement and more attractive workplaces.

And thirdly, ‘Performance’: fitting the work to the workers’ individual skills, capabilities and preferences. This will, in turn, lead to increased quality and productivity, as well as efficient human-automation cooperation.

Thank you Kostas. We look forward to more insights further into the project.