The Slovenia Times

Slovenia gets first Smart Factory demonstration centre


Niko Herakovič, who has come up with the idea for the centre, said the project would focus on researching various technologies as well as new smart factory concepts, which could then be used in practice.

"Before leaving the university, a student should know smart factory concepts and try out these technologies themselves," said Herakovič at the centre's opening.

The facility has been established as part of the GOSTOP smart specialisation program, which aims to develop new technologies for swift digitalisation of Slovenian industry.

According to Herakovič, the centre has been designed to show the industrial sector how to develop smart factory concepts and use them to ease and accelerate digital transformation. He pointed out that it was also vital for small enterprises to digitalise their manufacturing as soon as possible.

Even though the centre's formal opening took place today, the facility has been active for almost a year, capturing interest of a number of companies. It has been based on the concept of distributed systems and focuses on all key smart factory technologies.

Smart factory research centres on global digital twin and global digital agent technology, which are pivoted on machine vision technology.

"Taking into account Industry 5.0 predictions, we've gone a step further by setting up a manual work post where one could demonstrate various smart factory technologies, including virtual and augmented reality," said Herakovič, adding that the manual worker's role will remain the foundation of every factory.

The centre currently employs 11 people, with its value estimated at some EUR 500,000. "Smart factory is an upgrade using artificial intelligence and digital agents, which automatically decide what happens next," said Herakovič.

The centre is seated at the Ljubljana Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, which is developing strategies for a swift transfer of technological know-how to the industry sector. The faculty's collaboration with industry amounts to some 40% of all research cooperation, at home and abroad.

The Slovenian industrial group Kolektor has supported the faculty in setting up the centre, stressing the importance of a smart factory demonstration for future research.

"Digital transformation is Slovenia's strategic priority," said Peter Wostnet, the head of the smart specialisation coordination department at the Government Office for Development and European Cohesion Policy. He added that the state would continue investing in technology development and implementation strategies.


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