The PERKS project set the foundations to provide digital support to industry operators in the creation, use, and governance of procedural knowledge. The PERKS digital solution makes use of Artificial Intelligence to better manage the set of skills, information, and experiences related to “know-how” in industrial processes. The project started just a few months ago and involves a consortium of technical partners (Cefriel, DFKI, NTT Data, Onlim, Vienna University of Economics and Business) as well as industrial use case companies (BEKO Europe, Fagor Automation and Siemens). In these first months, the extensive discussions and collaborative workshops between the partners led to a set of clear and shared business and technical requirements; those represent a blueprint for a large set of corporate scenarios beyond the boundaries of the project scope, as also testified by the initial market analysis carried out by International Data Corporation (IDC). The envisioned solution will represent procedural knowledge in a form that AI applications can easily leverage to support different stakeholders to manage, execute, audit and validate both the procedure definitions as well as their application on the field.

“Guided by these requirements, we laid down the foundations of PERKS around three major pillars” says the technical project lead Mario Scrocca from Cefriel. Indeed, the PERKS solution includes (1) a set of multi-modal tools to acquire knowledge from domain experts or to extract it from existing documents; (2) a procedural knowledge management component to integrate and transform this knowledge into a machine-understandable form within a knowledge graph; (3) a set of user applications for different corporate stakeholders, like a conversational AI agent to guide the operators in a factory to complete a procedure. Mario Scrocca continues: “The PERKS solution enables a human-in-the-loop process for both validating the extracted procedures and auditing the procedure executions.”

The PERKS solution is flexible enough to be adapted to any industrial setting where procedural knowledge is used. “To ensure that, we are consulting a User Board with members from industrial companies outside the PERKS consortium.” says the project coordinator Irene Celino from Cefriel. “We will keep engaging with them and other industrial stakeholders, by organizing events to further collect ideas and feedback; the goal is to improve our work and ensure a wide impact on the market”.

In the next period, the PERKS project will build upon those foundations and will implement a first version of the digital solution to be deployed and tested in BEKO Europe, Fagor Automation and Siemens, to prove the effectiveness of the proposed approach to realize the PERKS vision.