Digitally Integrated Production

Research and Development Trends 2022 / 2023

If there were an initiative to choose the production word of the year, the current winner would probably be: adaptability. Flexibility combined with a high level of resilience is increasingly becoming a basic requirement for economic existence for manufacturing companies. Without it, not only crisis situations but also everyday customer expectations can hardly be managed. In this context, digitalization and networking are becoming indispensable keys to success. Read more about the current production situation.

We asked our industry partners what specific challenges and needs manufacturing companies will be facing in the next few years. The result: technologies for five topics that will have top priority for us in the coming years.

Data Management, Networking and Analysis

Zeros and Ones at the Factory

No matter who you talk to in the industrial environment, everyone speaks about the challenge of capturing data and storing it appropriately, transmitting it securely and analyzing it intelligently. Behind all this is the goal of using data-driven solutions to make processes more efficient or to generate new business models. But how is this supposed to work?

Our solutions for this topic area:

  • IIoT architectures that extract meaningful data from raw data
  • Cloud and edge technologies for application in production
  • Data continuity based on PDM, PLM and other technologies 
  • Digital twins for all business units and technology levels
  • Enterprise cockpits that merge data across domains

More info

Manufacturing Systems and Production Control

Manufacturing without Takt and Assembly Line

The most important argument for data-driven, networked manufacturing lies in its potential to bring flexibility to production. For a long time, there was no alternative to rigid production structures when fast throughput was required. Now they are becoming obsolete. Instead of highly integrated, firmly linked lines, manufacturing experts increasingly favor modular production systems that can be flexibly combined.

Our solutions for this topic area:

  • Agile process management for flexible production organization
  • Virtual and physical adapters and sensors for networking
  • Modular shop floor IT for synchronization of heterogeneous production systems
  • Intra-process logistics with driverless transport systems
  • Partially autonomous process chains up to self-organizing production
  • Virtual commissioning with digital process, factory and machine twins

More info

Intelligent Mechatronic Systems Technology

When the ­Machine Reports Its Status

Even if the central concern of digitally integrated production or Industry 4.0 is networking industrial systems – the individual machine remains a central focus point of optimization. The reasons: Networking requires interfaces that must first be implemented on the individual machine. Also, topics such as resource efficiency are continuously addressed with development at the machine level.

Our solutions for this topic area:

  • Sensor technology for machines as original equipment or for retrofitting
  • Machining strategies and technologies for new materials
  • Force-controlled and manually guided robotics for processing and handling
  • Innovative manufacturing methods such as additive manufacturing or injection molding with metallic materials
  • Sensor integration in additively manufactured components

More info

Knowledge and Assistance in Production

Focusing on the Human Being

Even though artificial intelligence and autonomous solutions are increasingly conquering manufacturing, nothing works in production without qualified employees. And these are becoming increasingly hard to recruit against the backdrop of demographic change and a shortage of skilled workers. This makes it all the more important to provide people in production with the best possible support, to transfer their knowledge and to maintain their ability to work for as long as possible.

Our solutions for this topic area:

  • Semantic data structures as a basis for intelligent interpretation
  • Decision preparation on the basis of automated data evaluation
  • Interactive assistance systems with context-sensitive user guidance
  • Ergonomic and strength support with wearable robotics
  • Knowledge and competence management with effective, systematic solutions
  • Serious games and learning factories to qualify for digital transformation

More info

Sustainability and Environmental Compatibility

Greenwashing Is Yesterday’s News

For a growing number of companies, sustainability is no longer just a marketing argument, but an economic necessity. In a time characterized by supply bottlenecks for raw materials and rapidly rising energy prices, using scarce and expensive resources efficiently is gaining importance. Zero emissions and CO2 neutrality are also increasingly coming into focus.

Our solutions for this topic area:

  • Energy and resource efficiency through optimal process parameters
  • Lifecycle design based on sustainability criteria
  • Remanufacturing and refurbishing for material efficiency and waste prevention
  • Circular economy concepts for sustainable production of goods
  • Sustainability benchmarking and cockpits for future-oriented business design

More info

Holistic answers to current industry challenges

In addition to the R&D trends above, we also tackle cross-cutting topics with an interdisciplinary approach. In our six business divisions, we can map all aspects of such trend topics along the entire process chain, from production management, product development and manufacturing to the maintenance of capital goods. The various competencies of our research areas are optimally interlinked for the benefit of our clients.

Industry 4.0

What is Industry 4.0?

»Digitally Integrated Production« – our answer to the challenges of Industry 4.0

Additive Manufacturing

How can additive manufacturing help you?

Development times can be drastically reduced and highly complex component geometries can be manufactured cost-effectively.

Smart Maintenance

How can your production benefit from Smart Maintenance?

Processes and technologies in the field of maintenance, repair and overhaul can be designed to be energy- and resource-efficient.

Artificial Intelligence

How do we at Fraunhofer IPK deal with machine learning and artificial intelligence?

Above all, people are at the center of production.

Manufacturing in Times of Corona

Do you need support to tackle your challenges?

We help you to quickly adapt to changed conditions.

Digital Twins

You want to use Digital Twins to flexibilize production? 

We are developing customized solutions that exploit the full potential of digital twins.