How can small and medium-sized enterprises use artificial intelligence profitably? This is the question being investigated at Furtwangen University in the "Artificial Intelligence Mountains Labs" (KIM-Labs) joint project. Professor Dr Christoph Reich leads project work at the Institute for Data Science, Cloud Computing and IT Security. " The use of AI has concrete potential benefits, and we want to show companies what the possibilities are," says Reich. The project being conducted by Furtwangen University together with Medical Mountains GmbH and Hahn Schickard, already received funding for one and half years from the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of the Economy in 2020. Now the project is being extended for another two years with €200,000 being made available for this innovative area of research.
AI and sustainability
"Until now, KIM-Labs focused primarily on the field of medical technology," reports Professor Dr Christoph Reich. "Now we’d like to add other industries as well. Above all, we’ll be looking even more closely at the topic of AI and sustainability." When it comes to industrial waste, for example, artificial intelligence has enormous potential, he says. "Using AI, you can identify waste materials and sort them - using robots, for example," Reich said. "This is not only more reliable and effective than a manual solution, but also much safer, especially when it comes to hazardous materials." The technology for such solutions has long been available, Reich says, "and now we're optimising and enabling new solutions with the help of AI."
Huge time savings
"KIM-Labs" offers a wide range of seminars, information events, training courses and consultations on the topic of artificial intelligence. It addresses small and medium-sized enterprises -mainly in the Schwarzwald-Baar-Heuberg region and the Tuttlingen district - but also beyond. Depending on demand and intensity, the events are scheduled for one or more days. With the "Test before investing" option, companies can also be supported for up to 6 months, including with the development of a customised optimisation proposal. "There is a huge potential for AI, in the field of testing generally, and particularly in the area of quality control," says Reich, reporting on a company that manufactures its products from metal sheets. These are delivered as thin metal strips wound on large rolls. "Early visual inspection of the raw material using AI can immediately identify and remove production parts with surface defects, reducing material costs and minimising defect rates, but most important are the huge time savings in the manufacturing process." AI can also be used in logistics, for example, to record locations in a warehouse and organise storage so that distances covered during the process are as short as possible.
The diverse consulting expertise that Furtwangen University can offer, makes interdisciplinary solutions - from energy generation from hydrogen to the analysis of medical data - possible. Companies can also contribute their own specialist knowledge to the project work - making the results even more directly applicable.
Information on the KIM-Labs project is available on the following websites: https://medicalmountains.de and https://www.hs-furtwangen.de/forschung/forschungsprojekte/kim-lab/. Interested companies can contact Professor Reich directly at Furtwangen University: christoph.reich(at)hs-furtwangen.de.