TF KnowNet – project
[EIT Success Story 2020]
TF KnowNet – A modern Teaching Factory
TF KnowNet proposes a unique, collaborative knowledge exchange network that bridges industry and academia and leverages the latest technology, based on the Teaching Factory paradigm. It is a modern, innovative way of sharing knowledge and real-life experience to accelerate European innovation capacity and digitalisation, and in the end, make our industry more competitive.
Providing training to ensure a capable manufacturing workforce for the future faces challenges:
• Much of engineering and manufacturing training is still quite theoretical and detached from the shop floor reality.
• The manufacturing sector is not always perceived as very attractive by young students.
• The upskilling of the current workforce requires a lot of time and cost if it is only conducted in-person.
The TF KnowNet project consortium decided to tackle these challenges by making use of the latest technologies and creating bridging networks in industry and academia.
The TF KnowNet project leverages the Teaching Factory paradigm, a two-way, web-based communication channel connecting industry and academia, to enable an ongoing exchange and knowledge transfer between shopfloor staff and students in the classroom or lab. TF KnowNet takes the Teaching Factory concept to the next level, by extending it to a network comprised of both leading industrial partners and renowned universities.
To validate the approach, methodology, and tools, three pilot activities were implemented in 2020. The pilots focused on diverse manufacturing challenges, involving seven EIT Manufacturing partners (five universities and two industrial partners) across six countries, and engaging about 100 participants.
The TF KnowNet concept is now ready for expansion to a broader range of actors, including SMEs. This approach provides these stakeholders with a way to accelerate their innovation capacity without further investment, as well as a new way of sharing knowledge and solving problems to accelerate our European innovation capacity and digitalisation – thereby making our industry more competitive.
Thanks to the concept, we are able to offer a challenge-based learning solution, access to expert knowledge and state-of-the-art equipment, making study more intuitive and enjoyable. We believe these improvements will contribute to improving not only the quality of education but also the attractiveness of engineering studies.
By connecting industry and academia, the programme allows participants to access a broad knowledge base, talent pool, resources and solutions, to answer real industrial day-to-day challenges. Students get the flavour of practical applications, beyond theory, and academia can test new concepts and technologies in a real-life setting.
This remote collaboration scheme significantly lowers access barriers to knowledge and solutions, allowing equal opportunities for all learners, regardless of their physical location, initial skill level, and hierarchical position. In addition, the concept contributes to the development of soft skills, such as a sense of ownership, presentation skills, collaboration and multi-cultural communication.
LMS, the founder of the TF concept, is the activity leader, responsible for the overall coordination and timely execution of the activity. LMS is in charge of the industrial and academic piloting activities in Greece, and as an academic partner, it facilitates the participation of research staff, as well as students, in the activities. LMS also acts as a network node for local manufacturing enterprises in Greece and leads the activities towards commercialisation.
• Aalto University is involved in the implementation of the programme (both in industrial and academic pilots), while also leading the communication, dissemination and outreach activities of TF KnowNet.
• Mondragon Group is in charge of bringing needs and context from industry and promoting piloting activities in some of the Mondragon Group companies, together with Mondragon University.
• Mondragon University oversees industrial and academic piloting activities in Spain, and as an academic partner, it will facilitate the participation of academic and research staff, as well as students, in the activities.
• Prima Additive participated in industrial pilots by offering its skills and knowledge in solving industrial challenges related to additive manufacturing.
• TU Braunschweig oversees the piloting activities in Germany, and as an academic partner, it facilitates the participation of academic and research staff, and students, in the activity. TU Braunschweig also offered its LF testbed as a practical application for students to test their knowledge.
• VOLVO has been involved in piloting activities, by offering industrial challenges to be elaborated by the network and also by requesting training for introducing RTD advancements to manufacturing practitioners and re-skill personnel.