Technologies and Equipment for Digitally Integrated Production

Interview on Intelligent Mechatronic Systems Technology

Q & A with Prof. Dr. h. c. Dr.-Ing. Eckart Uhlmann, Fraunhofer IPK

How much emphasis does Industry 4.0 place on optimizing production systems?


At Fraunhofer IPK, we prefer to use the term »digitally integrated production« instead of »Industry 4.0«, to make it clear that production is the main focus. We see digitalization as a tool to support processes – including the actual manufacturing processes. Nevertheless, it will remain necessary to put engineering know-how into these manufacturing processes and thus, also into the equipment on which they run in order to optimize them.

Which are the development needs in this area?


Our time is characterized by disruptive changes that require new ways of thinking in production. New, environmentally friendly materials and manufacturing processes need to be developed. Aspects such as zero-emission and zero-defect production are also coming to the fore. This cannot be done without suitably adapted equipment.

How does »digitally integrated production« affect systems manufacturers?


Production systems must become intelligent, independently monitor and optimize their processes, and communicate with their environment. In short, they must develop into cyberphysical systems. In addition to software, this also requires sensors and actuators integrated into the machines. Systems manufacturers who have so far focused on the actual manufacturing process must expand their competencies in this area or enter into strategic partnerships with corresponding know-how providers.

Who we talked to

Prof. Dr. Dr. Eckart Uhlmann is head of Fraunhofer IPK and of the Machine Tools and Manufacturing Tech­nology chair at Technische Universität Berlin. His re­search focuses on the development and optimization of machine tools and production systems as well as on increasing the performance and resource efficiency of manufacturing processes.