Kicking off the OPTIMAI Behind the Scenes segment is project partner Future Intelligence (FINT). We spoke to Chief Technology Officer George Bogdos about his role, and the role of FINT within the OPTIMAI project.
Thanks for speaking to us today. Could you start by introducing yourself and telling us where you are based?
Hi, my name is George Bogdos and I am CTO of Future Intelligence, short name FINT. FINT is a group of companies having as a mission to offer an integrated suite of remote management solutions for devices in industrial, city and rural environments, based on wireless media and remote management applications. The company was founded in 2009 in Athens and maintains a branch in Ioannina and privately owned cloud infrastructure in Heraklion. It has presence in London since 2012 which was recently extended with an aviation-dedicated branch, and also has presence in Limassol since 2018. In OPTIMAI FINT is represented by its, always sunny, Cypriot branch.
What does your typical working day in the OPTIMAI project involve?
OPTIMAI is a very interesting and promising project in the area of Industry 4.0 having its main objective as the provision of smart instrumentation of production lines with AI-enabled sensors for quality inspection and monitoring while integrated on a secure middleware layer. Maybe it sounds complicated and difficult to achieve, however when leading industrial partners are collaborating with innovative SMEs and research institutes that have deep knowledge and appetite for challenges, the final target becomes much more tangible. As we are still at the definition phase of the project, my typical working day involves talks and meetings with the various partners of the consortium as well as translation of user specifications to technical requirements.
What is your main task in the OPTIMAI project?
FINT is a technical partner of the OPTIMAI project leading WP3 (Adaptive sensorial network for product-process monitoring and analysis of defects in manufacturing) which has the objective to introduce the main core system of OPTIMAI. FINT’s main tasks involve the introduction and development of the main Middleware platform of OPTIMAI, the security middlebox, the intelligent Marketplace for AI sharing and providing expertise for the sensor modelling and virtualization. Moreover, FINT will have a fundamental role in the market analysis and OPTIMAI commercialization activities.
What do you like most about your role?
Of course, the challenges behind it. FINT is involved in various commercial and research projects providing integrated solutions that combine hardware and software in the domains of Industry 4.0 smart cities and agriculture. We know very well that each job that our company undertakes has unique characteristics and approaches. Our team is always ready to think outide the box and provide solutions answering the most demanding requests. This is what we expect to have in OPTIMAI and this is what we like most.
Has working remotely affected your work on OPTIMAI in any way?
Not really. For several years now the company has built an internal environment and culture that allows the easy collaboration of people even if they are working remotely. The use of collaborative tools, the definition of internal procedures and the allocation of specific responsibilities helped to achieve that. However, the HW department of the company couldn’t work remotely so they are the main people who had to continue working from the office base, of course always respecting the health and safety measures.
How do your professional interests match the objectives of OPTIMAI?
FINT has significant experience in Industrial automation projects. FINoT® platform, the commercial IoT solution of FINT and the expertise that has been acquired through this involvement, is a factor that is contributing to the objectives of OPTIMAI. On the other hand, FINT wants to enhance its solution and the Middleware service of FINoT®, incorporating specific knowledge bases and AI-enabled sensors algorithms providing capabilities for quality inspection and monitoring. Such an enhancement can benefit the company’s clients in Smart Cities, Smart Agriculture, Smart Infrastructure, and Industrial Automation for Manufacturing domains. Another reason is that FINT is one of the first companies in Europe that introduced a Marketplace for services and data sharing using a complete FIWARE-based platform and it is very interesting for us to put in work for a quality inspection/monitoring use case. In other words, the current professional interests of FINT are matching the objectives of OPTIMAI project.
What is unique about OPTIMAI in your opinion?
Apart from the very strong consortium, I believe that it is the Marketplace concept. In OPTIMAI we will witness the development of a Marketplace that will have the main role of helping the manufacturing ecosystem to decrease scrap within their production. By providing carefully developed AI algorithms, third parties will become capable of increasing their production quality by using them for activities like the identification of potential defective parts and the prediction of defects and malfunctions.
Has anything surprised you in the first 7 months of the project?
The project is reaching its first year and the consortium still hasn’t had the ability to meet in person. The surprise here is that the project started during the pandemic period, so all the partners were already adapted to the situation. This meant the activities of the project kicked off without problems or delays. One would expect that it is difficult to align people that have never met, but in the case of OPTIMAI it is working smoothly. However, I need to say that the physical meetings are invaluable in specific stages of a project and help to accomplish some pieces of work quicker.
What do you see as the biggest challenge for OPTIMAI?
OPTIMAI will introduce some very promising technologies that are expected to help the manufacturing ecosystem to reach zero defect level. To test and validate the developed technologies, we will have to integrate them into real production lines belonging to the end-users that are participating in the project. The challenging part is how to effectively prove and demonstrate the performance gains and the overall benefits while interfering as little as possible with a production line that is in constant operation.
What is one key thing you have learned from working on OPTIMAI so far?
Projects in the Industry 4.0 domain are very challenging but very interesting at the same time. The involvement of different manufacturing end-users allows technical partners to gain insights in production aspects that they might not have been involved with before. The understanding and the interpretation of the various gaps and identified problems of each production line is a major lesson for all participants. It is also important to mention that it is a very big privilege to work with KLEEMANN, Televes and Microchip Technology, established companies in their respective domains, because their knowledge and expertise can shape and contribute to a more commercially applied OPTIMAI result.
Could you describe the overall expected impact of the OPTIMAI project in three words?
Disruptive Smart Manufacturing.
What would be your advice to anyone interested in getting involved with a Horizon Europe project?
Go for it. The first impression is that it is difficult, and sometimes not obvious why and how to do it. However, when the involvement starts through collaboration with partners that are experienced, the objectives become clearer and the process straightforward.
In any case, the main purpose for anyone who wants to get involved in a Horizon Europe project is to meet new, fine people, work with other companies and organisations, and establish long term partnerships while promoting and presenting niche expertise and hard-developed achievements to a broader audience.
Many thanks for taking the time to speak to us, George! We look forward to more updates from the team at FINT.