Fraunhofer IPK

Institute for Production Systems and Design Technology

Modular Shopfloor IT

Complex IT ­architecture from simple building blocks

Customer request: Adapt products and processes!
A company might be producing plastic components, thousands of items per day, in one constant configuration. The client now demands a change, smaller, thicker, thinner, made from a different material or – as our fair exhibit shows – individually labelled. Even such deceptively trivial changes will have repercussions on all levels of manufacturing, from the control room to the individual machine controls. So far, any changes to products or processes have to be programmed manually in all systems involved in the process. Time and quality constraints make such change requests an unpopular part of industrial life.

Combining modules instead of reprogramming
Modular Shopfloor IT facilitates such change requests enormously. It integrates with the machine controls and makes them available for remote management and integration with higher systems. Changes to processes are not communicated from person to person anymore, but through the IT system – e.g. from order management directly to production. The software relies on a building block principle: Even if a factory uses machines of all different makes and types, the control and monitoring functions will be similar. That means that only few modules are needed to cover the entire value chain of any company.

When the maker of plastic components receives a change request, the Shopfloor IT modules are recombined and the required production parameters are submitted directly. If a special dashboard – as showcased at Hannover Messe 2015 and 2016 – is added, process data for order-specific analyses can be accessed. In 2017, the complete system will, for the first time, be combined with a flexible performance board to connect live production data directly with possible optimizations.

Your benefits

Modular Shopfloor IT is a model example of simple, but effective solutions that are quick and easy to realize. They rely on existing technology – taking away many of the concerns about Industrie 4.0 and making dip an appealing option even for SMEs.