Industry 4.0: Pilot with 15 workers kicks-off in a clothing manufacturer



For two weeks, 15 workers from a clothing manufacturer took part in a pilot aimed at collecting data throughout their working day. The technology used was developed by the Fraunhofer Portugal AICOS research centre (FhP-AICOS) as part of a study that intends to support and encourage the industry in the digital transformation process, without neglecting the well-being (physical and mental) of the workers, who are at the centre of the whole process. A new pilot is already being designed to be implemented in the automotive industry (Volkswagen Autoeuropa).

Workers had at their disposal sensors that allowed the collection of several data regarding the environment (temperature, humidity, noise, illuminance), their physical condition (ergonomic posture, repetitive movements), but also their state of mind (if they feel supported, in pain, or under pressure). These are some of the data that can later be accessed and analysed through a digital platform. These technological tools are proposed for risk exposure data analysis in the workplace, building on the concepts of Positive Ergonomics, Operator 4.0 and on the Job Quality Indices by the Eurofound.

The pilot collected different data, simultaneously, from 15 workers with different activities, throughout their working days, during two weeks of work. The research is based on a comparative analysis of environmental, physical and mental dimensions in order to identify and prevent risk situations. The consortium believes that access to this information will enable companies to improve workers' working conditions, without jeopardising productivity objectives.

The technology developed and the pilot being implemented are part of the OPERATOR project, which started in 2020, with the aim of ensuring the well-being of the industry worker. Within this project, FhP-AICOS is responsible for the technological development of the sensors and the digital platform, as well as the real time study and monitoring of the workers. This project highlights FhP-AICOS' competences in the areas of Human-Centred Design, Artificial Intelligence and Cyber-Physical Systems, as well as its fields of study - User Research in different environments; Computer Vision; Data Analysis of Wearable Sensors; Cognitive and Decision Support Systems; and the Internet of Things.

Financed in 1.88 million euros, OPERATOR is the result of a partnership between several institutions, such as FhP-AICOS, Zenithwings, NST Apparel Lda, Volkswagen Autoeuropa, Faculdade de Ciência e Tecnologia da Universidade Nova de Lisboa (FCT Nova), Faculdade de Psicologia e de Ciências da Educação da Universidade do Porto (FPCEUP), Escola de Engenharia da Universidade do Minho (UM), Instituto de Engenharia Médica e Ciência (IMES) and Controlconsul - Consultoria, Serviços e Representações, Lda.


The OPERATOR project is co-financed by the ERDF – European Regional Development Fund through the Operational Program for Competitiveness and Internationalisation – COMPETE 2020, the North Portugal Regional Operational Program – NORTE 2020 and by the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology – FCT under MIT Portugal.