When Productive4.0 started in May 2017, its intention to «open the gates to the digital future» raised high expectations of the ambitious European project with 109 partners. Now that the research work is done, they turn out to be more than fulfilled. Apart from the total funding of roughly 50 million euros, it is satisfying to see that all the effort put in over three and a half years is rewarded with the best possible response from EU programme promoter ECSEL Joint Undertaking.
“Excellent project results”, says programme officer Berta Ferrer Llosá in the preliminary final review. “Congratulations to everybody that participated in the project.” On behalf of ECSEL JU she qualifies some of the “impressive results” as a “jewel to positioning Europe in the front of digitalisation”. Concerning the project partners, she highlights “the tight collaboration among beneficiaries” which is visible in the 33 use cases.
Berta Ferrer Llosá, originally from Spanish Valencia, has been supervising the project from the first moment on. Productive4.0 talked with her about her experiences and her view on the project.
How many projects have you already supervised?
Ever since my start as project officer at the EU Commission in 2008 and later at ARTEMIS/ECSEL JU, I’ve been supervising about ten projects per year which rounds up to a total of roughly 36 projects until today. And Productive4.0 is one of my important projects.
In the long list of projects, Productive4.0 is the biggest, so far?
Years ago, we developed the idea of big projects with a critical mass for a big impact. Productive4.0 is a clear example of this concept, and it attracted a lot of attention. It was the first project of the ECSEL lighthouse initiative in the domain of Industry. With the idea of bringing projects together, it has been very active in the Industy4.E Lighthouse. It was in each of the project events like annual reviews, but also in the consortium meetings once per year. Other projects came to present their results, establish contacts and find synergies. This way, Productive4.0 had an enormous impact.
Were you ever concerned, looking at the sheer size of the project?
What counts is how a project is organised and who will coordinate it. After the experience with EMC2 as one of the first real big projects, we were confident right from the beginning. With Infineon as coordinator and especially the excellent management team of Productive4.0, we knew that this could be a success. It is also important how a project is organised internally. With each of the work packages it consists of separate subprojects. Thanks to the excellent work package leaders, they communicated and interacted with each other. And the team managed to navigate through the problems coming along with Covid-19. Let me tell you something, with Infineon’s technical skills to run such a huge project, it gave me less work than others that are a lot smaller.
Apart from the reviews, you joined the kick-off and all the conference meetings. Is this customary?
For all ECSEL projects the yearly reviews are mandatory for us to assess the progress of a project. We initiate the reviews and we have to make sure that the tax payers’ money is used wisely. For some projects, we also attend the kick-off meeting; Productive4.0 was an important project. Not all projects have yearly conferences. In the end, I attended more events than with most “regular” projects. Productive4.0 was very interesting and I was glad to visit all the posters and demonstrators. The project partners were so enthusiastic. When you see this energy it is a real inspiration. Since the project addressed many different sectors, I was able to learn details that I wasn’t that familiar with at the beginning.
Concerning the results, which were the highlights?
One thing to mention is the Arrowhead Framework which started in one of the former projects then continued its development in Productive4.0 and now in another ECSEL project called Arrowhead Tools. Moreover, they found a way to make it a sustainable result, by becoming an incubator project within the Eclipse foundation. This is what we want in ECSEL. The results should be used in other projects to continue for the use in the industry. The next remarkable thing is the Generic Data Model for the semiconductor manufacturing industry. It is publicly available and includes data sets provided by Infineon, Bosch and ST Microelectronics. It is the first time that competitors collaborate so closely. With this Data Model, the Digital Reference and the Semantic Web, the project managed to model the entire supply chain. We have a digital twin which allows for decisions in an effective way. It reduces the time for the development of new products and enables their integration into mature supply chains. Their impact can be seen without creating prototypes. For me, Generic Data Model and Digital Reference is an outstanding result.
…and at the same time, it creates a common language to interconnect IoT?
Exactly! I am glad to see that the approach is continued in the next project called SC3. This is another example for sustainability, and it will help to reinforce the European position in the international arena. All in all, we highly appreciate that efforts in the project were done in an open source direction. And let me note that the use cases covered a wide range of industrial domains. For instance, Arrowhead Framework was used in lots of use cases showing how to reduce production time and costs by using the Framework.
What about dissemination and exploitation?
Productive4.0 has done a fantastic job, starting from the website which is one the most complete and appealing websites I have ever seen in the entire history of my projects. Some of the videos are really professional. Apart from articles, this is the new way to communicate, being active in social media. Productive4.0 has the most complete dissemination and communication activities. With regard to exploitation, it has done an excellent job, too. There are many exploitable items already; the Generic Data Model is only one example. Another would be the open online Sales & Marketing Platform.
Speaking of which, would you say that Productive4.0 set new standards?
Indeed, the project set new standards for others, like projects in the Lighthouse initiative I am sure that they are influenced by the activities of Productive4.0.
Can the project be seen as a beacon for others, a role model?