Reboot IoT Factory Reinvents Itself Many Times During the Project
The Reboot IoT Factory project has already generated new technology transfer such as the TesterWatch method for testing base station products, and the AI Foreman for planning and resourcing factory work.
These innovations stem from customer needs and are based on the companies’ everyday challenges. That said, research work conducted outside the companies has had significant role in addressing those challenges. Innovating has exited the research chambers and entered the customer’s environment. Typically, similar size projects have two to five visits to the factory floor, whereas Reboot IoT Factory has 200 and counting.
Reboot IoT Factory has also renewed how the research itself is done, especially the roles of various stakeholders and interactions between them. Problems are solved together in an ecosystem, bypassing the organization boundaries. In practice, this has called for recurring cross resourcing between the project’s research partners, namely VTT, University of Oulu, and Åbo Akademi University. Resource allocations vary in length, from a few months to over a year, but they are typically not full-time.
The project has included people from all phases of their professional careers, from thesis writers all the way up to professors. Researchers have introduced latest technologies to companies and in turn received data from them to be included in publications and method development. “Our experiences of this way of working are very positive and we intend to continue it also in future projects as much as feasible”, tells Susanna Pirttikangas, who is running the Reboot IoT Factory activities at University of Oulu.
Traditionally research projects have advanced according to a waterfall model, where detailed schedule, resources, and deliverables for the whole project are defined when the project starts. Reboot IoT Factory has reconstructed this part, too, by bringing methods from modern software development to research work. Tasks are done in sprints, Jira is applied in workflow management, and Kanban boards are in heavy use
University partners can also utilize the project in teaching. “By virtue of the Reboot IoT Factory project, we are exposed to concrete research problems, which can be relevant for example for our sensor and analytics courses. Furthermore, the industry representatives can visit our lectures and discuss with the students”, says Johan Lilius, who manages the project at Åbo Akademi University.
Reboot IoT Factory has proved that it is possible to fit together the activities of industries and research organizations, which typically proceed in different time cycles. A prerequisite for this is that funding bodies have trust in the way of working and enough freedom is given for the project consortium to organize and reorganize its activities as needed. “Reboot IoT Factory is reinventing itself every three months”, as Marko Jurvansuu, the project coordinator from VTT sums up.
- Marko Jurvansuu, VTT
- Susanna Pirttikangas, University of Oulu
- Johan Lilius, Åbo Akademi University
Text: Santtu Toivonen