Fraunhofer IPK

Institut für Produktionsanlagen und Konstruktionstechnik

Digital Transformation - Englische Ausgabe 2017

Adaptation? Done!

Digitally Integrated Production

Our answer to Industrie 4.0 is called »dip – digitally integrated production«. This approach allows us to achieve speedy processes even for customized orders. We efficiently provide simple solutions, single technologies or specific process changes, all of which will have a major impact on production pace and manufacturing costs. However, dip will tap its full potential pursuing a holistic approach which integrates technological aspects and the re-organization of entire process networks. Thanks to our interdisciplinary hnow-how we are ready to master both.

Speedy production processes and custom products – how does it work?
(© Fotolia/FERNANDO)

Custom Product

»Off the peg« was yesterday. Today, many enterprises execute custom processes for every client or even every single order – often with annual repetition rates of 1.3. Letting buyers choose the color or styles of custom trainers or designing custom car interiors are no major problem. System suppliers regularly face completely different challenges: Their clients order components made from materials they have never used before or require certifications that their standard production processes were not designed to accommodate.

Such special requests are a tough test for the economic viability of production processes. The problem is simple: They take time. Mass production is designed to function like a Swiss clockwork: An order is received, and everybody knows what needs to be done. From initial logistics down to the finishing touch, every process step is intricately linked with the next to keep the entire process running smoothly. This is far from straightforward with custom orders, which require much more coordination. A change in the raw materials needs careful checks whether the available machines can process the material, where the material can be procured, and how to proceed in general when it is not predetermined who does what at which point. This makes custom products much more expensive than mass production.

The many advantages of customized products let ­clients accept greater costs to some extent – but truly flexible manufacturing can only become economically sustainable, if it is faster and cheaper than before. Throughput speeds and production costs need to hold their own with more established mass production. Is that possible?

The solution: Digitally integrated production!

Industrie 4.0 or digitally integrated production (dip) offers thousands of promising solutions for the challenge »Speed up, costs down«. The spectrum of options reaches from pin-point interventions in existing systems to sweeping restructuring of entire process chains. However ambitious your plans to make your production faster and more flexible, Fraunhofer IPK will support every level of configuration with bespoke solutions. At Hannover Messe 2017, we showed how this can work in practice.

Production of plastic components can be quick and economical, even if key production parameters are changed, thanks to integrated modular product, production, and IT architectures, smart data, and cloud-based control systems. Novel technologies keep the entire process speedy and responsive: Modular Shopfloor IT combines manufacturing facilities flexibly in ever new process chains, ready to handle customized orders. This becomes even more responsive when the machine controls are moved into the cloud: All software is brought together in one place, for easier maintenance and the speedy integration of changes. Smart data transmits the data from production facilities into a digital twin that tests the feasibility of requested product or process changes without stopping production. The end result: Cheaper and faster manufacturing.

Digitally integrated production (dip) makes processes faster and more ­flexible.
(© Fraunhofer IPK/Ismaël Sanou)

Modulare Shopfloor IT: Complex IT Architecture from Simple Building Blocks

So far, any changes to products or processes requested by a customer 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. 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 then communicated 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.

Digital Twin: Virtually Validate Product Changes

The custom order has reached the production facilities directly. But can it be produced at all? Product developers need to make sure that e.g. the space for the requested label is sufficient and that no other conflict arises. All of these details can be checked with the digital twin, a virtual copy of production facilities. It not only reflects its geometry and layout, but also the actual behavior of the plant. Multiple sensors, both physical and virtual, track the operating state of the real production hardware and transfer it to the twin. The twin can model the production of product variants before they enter actual manufacturing – or test whether and how new facilities could be integrated into the existing manufacturing processes.

pICASSO: Cloud-based Robot Control

Modelling facilities in flexible production, we have developed a special robot cell: all its components are designed as cyber-physical systems (CPS). The conveyor belt, camera, and robot are each handled by one service that is recorded in the »Yellow Pages for Industrie 4.0« and readily available from anywhere in the world. In addition, there are purely virtual services, such as object recognition features used to identify grip points. When a component is delivered by the conveyor, the service will tell the camera to send an image to the object recognition service. The service tells the robot the exact grip point for the product. Such flexible service integration illustrates all advantages of cloud solutions: they are economical, readily available and secure.  

Your contact

Katharina Strohmeier

Phone: +49 30 39006-140


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