AI Marketplace – the digital platform for AI in engineering

Reduce development times, cut costs and increase productivity at the same time: the ‘AI Marketplace’ project, which was funded by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action and initiated by the it’s OWL technology network, has impressively demonstrated why companies should be looking at artificial intelligence (AI) in engineering. Market leaders such as Claas and düspohl have benefited from the three-year research project. Thanks to the AI Marketplace, the combine harvester manufacturer has found a method to drastically reduce its engineering costs. To ensure that companies can continue to utilise the benefits of AI in engineering, the project team has founded the start-up of the same name ‘AI Marketplace GmbH’ and promises a wide range of services.

“AI in engineering harbours great potential for increasing productivity and economic growth. Whether it is the automation of technology scouting or the optimisation of design data – the potential of artificial intelligence in engineering is diverse. However, manufacturing companies often lack sufficient expertise to tap into this potential. We want to change this with the AI Marketplace,” says Prof Dr Roman Dumitrescu, Managing Director it’s OWL and co-founder of the AI Marketplace start-up. Dumitrescu founded the start-up together with Leon Özcan and Ruslan Bernijazov. All three have already worked on the research project of the same name. “With the AI Marketplace, we are offering companies a central location where they can discover the potential of AI in engineering and where they can solve their challenges with the help of AI,” says Ruslan Bernijazov, who co-led the project.

The start-up offers free web checks and other consulting formats for getting started with AI in engineering. The range of services also includes an app and service store that gives users easy access to AI applications from third-party providers. The first applications for the store were developed during the three years of the research project.

In six pilot projects, 20 companies and research institutions worked with 72 associated partners of the AI Marketplace on AI solutions for specific use cases. The topics ranged from intelligent product monitoring and fault diagnosis to AI-supported manufacturability analyses. Claas, Diebold Nixdorf, düspohl, Hella Gutmann, westaflex and Ubermetrics took part in the pilot projects.

Compare components within seconds

The agricultural machinery manufacturer Claas has integrated artificial intelligence into computer-aided design (CAD) through the project. The result is a knowledge database with CAD models for intelligent common parts management that can be used to find identical and similar parts. “Thanks to the database, an engineer can search through millions of parts in just 13 seconds, which drastically increases search efficiency. Once the application is in production, we expect to break even within the next few months,” says Roger Tiako Poungue, Domain Lead CAD Mechanics at Claas. Thanks to the database and the fast search function, components can be reused and do not have to be redesigned, which saves manufacturing, development and storage costs.

AI reduces production margin by 27 per cent

Automotive supplier westaflex has also recognised potential savings. Thanks to the AI Marketplace, the company has reduced its production time, i.e. the time it takes to complete a specific task or project, by 27 per cent. This is because software at westaflex now uses artificial intelligence to plan the order in which orders are produced. Based on ERP, machine and real-time data from production, the AI suggests a sequence plan, replacing analogue planning boards and spreadsheets. “Thanks to the work in the AI Marketplace, we have been able to drastically reduce our planning time and significantly increase the efficiency of our processes,” says Olaf Knospe, Head of Research and Development at westaflex.

AI-supported diagnostic software launched on the market

The manufacturer of diagnostics and workshop equipment, Hella Gutmann, has developed and launched an ‘Automated Diagnosis’ with the involvement of the AI Marketplace. Traditionally, potentially defective components in vehicles are identified using fault codes and sensor values. Currently, a mechanic needs a lot of time and knowledge in the workshop to create a well-founded diagnosis based on read-out error codes or measured sensor values.

In the ‘Automated Diagnosis’ developed, the artificial intelligence works with data from two billion error codes read out and around five million causalities recorded by the Hella Gutmann call centre. Thanks to the large amount of data, defective components can be identified with a high probability in over 80 per cent of the automated diagnoses. In addition, the system continuously improves itself by utilising and integrating feedback from vehicle experts.

Product monitoring with artificial intelligence

Analysing and processing feedback is also part of Ubermetrics Technologies GmbH’s business. The company has automated its evaluation of digital product feedback in the AI Marketplace. AI applications help Ubermetrics to extract and analyse relevant product information from unstructured texts such as press releases or social media posts. Companies can use the software to find out how existing and new products are perceived by customers, to identify requirements for new product ideas and to assess market opportunities.

“The functionalities developed for product monitoring will have a major impact on our customers, as we will be able to offer a better service and optimise the cost structure for all customers,” says Jakob Tesch, Research Manager at Ubermetrics. Thanks to the solutions developed in the AI Marketplace, the company can reduce the estimated cost of connecting data sources by 80 per cent.

The number of observed entities can be increased significantly.

AI knows the optimum machine setting

düspohl Maschinenbau GmbH wraps wooden, metal or plastic profiles intelligently with the help of the ‘RoboWrap’ profile wrapping machine. Experts from the AI Marketplace helped the company to optimise the system’s set-up process. With success: thanks to AI, the set-up time of the machine was reduced from up to 16 hours of manual work to just 10 minutes – a time saving of up to 99 per cent. The developed prototype is also highly accurate, with the AI suggesting the correct set-up of the ‘RoboWrap’ in around 91 per cent of all cases. The company can access the AI’s settings and knowledge at any time. The high level of accuracy also means that significantly fewer errors occur during set-up than with manual set-up – the scrap rate can be reduced by around 50 per cent.

AI saves time during maintenance

The ATM manufacturer Diebold Nixdorf has reduced the processing time of service cases when technicians are deployed as part of a project. The company uses developed AI algorithms to recognise patterns based on machine and service data that occur in the event of a fault in the device. This means that the cause of a fault can be localised before technicians even arrive at the device. This not only saves time in the event of a service call, but also helps to reduce the service call rate.

Large project consortium guarantees success

The AI Marketplace project was funded from January 2020 to June 2023 in the innovation competition “Artificial intelligence as a driver for economically relevant ecosystems” organised by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK). The project volume totalled 16.60 million euros. Success was guaranteed by a project consortium of 20 research institutions, networks and companies, with the Leading-Edge Cluster it’s OWL at its core. The team relied on the expertise of the AI providers Cluster of Excellence Cognitive Interaction Technology (CITEC), Institute for Industrial Information Technology (inIT) and Ubermetrics, as well as the excellence of AI users CLAAS, Diebold Nixdorf, düspohl Maschinenbau, Hella Gutmann and westaflex.

The companies benefit from the expertise from research, while the research partners enjoy the advantage of working on real use cases with real data. The organisations Contact Software and inno-focus, the Fraunhofer Institutes IEM, IOSB-INA and IPK, the FIWARE Foundation, the Heinz Nixdorf Institute, the International Data Spaces Association, prostep ivip e.V. and UNITY AG played a key role in designing the platform created in the project.