We test promising technologies for their applicability and economic efficiency and determine the optimum degree of decentralised and centralised production control through the use of autonomous technologies
Which new technology is suitable when and for whom for use in the factory? What would pay off in practice and what would not? In order to be able to pursue these questions with a view to as many technological innovations as possible and at the same time in a practical manner, we combine the advantages of a computer-based simulation with those of a model factory. This means that all those parts of the manufacturing process that are already known and analysed are simplified in a model and then simulated with the help of computer programmes. For this purpose, we have designed both intelligent workpieces and machine components that can be loaded with a wide variety of programs so that they behave like individual workpieces and machines. This allows you to efficiently test the integration of a new production machine, validate various organisational principles and identify the ideal configuration for your Industrial 4.0 production facility.
Innovation in the Industry 4.0 Centre: Machine - Workpiece Interaction
The decisive innovation at the Industry 4.0 centre, about which we know little and want to find out a lot, is the interaction between machines, but above all between machine and workpiece. To test this communication in practice, we have connected individual machine components by a roller conveyor, which allows us to integrate various technical innovations into an existing production process at the same time. By using scanners or motion sensors, the machines can be enabled to act independently. This would result in fewer breaks or even interruptions in the production process. The revolution of autonomous production is the intelligent workpiece, which is able to produce with the machine itself in a certain way.
Less external and more self-organisation through the intelligent workpiece
Simple communication technology such as barcode scanners have of course been in use for a long time, but the fact that the machine interacts with the workpiece has so far only been possible in the Zentrum Industrie 4.0. RFID technology, radio-frequency identification, makes this possible. Sensors, in this case of the machines, read the information from chips located in the workpieces. If the chips contain instructions on how the workpiece is to be further processed, the machine "knows" what to do without a human having to start the work step. Rather, the machine is enabled to solve any malfunctions that occur itself.
Hybrid simulation environment
Our centre includes a fully integrated and functional IT stack from programmable logic controllers on the machine to manufacturing execution, ERP and management information systems. Real technology in logistics, robotics and IT is used to visually and haptically illustrate almost any scenario of future value-added processes by means of simulated machines and workpieces. The fast and low-effort linking of physically or virtually provided production objects allows us to demonstrate the benefits of Industry 4.0 technology in a vivid and realistic way in the concrete process. The highly flexible infrastructure can be configured for various scenarios in order to make Industry 4.0 and its potential accessible in an interactive and application-oriented way.
We calculate, show and demonstrate the advantages of autonomous technologies in practice
The advantages of autonomous technologies in practice can not only be calculated and simulated in the Industry 4.0 Centre, but also demonstrated. The replication of the current production environment enables the testing of different improvements with regard to current problems and new potentials. On the basis of data from real production, wear, error and malfunction rates can be programmed into the production process in order to reproduce them as realistically as possible. Machines and workpieces are equipped with displays in our laboratory, through which we can intervene in the process and change parameters. In the course of the simulated production, you can see here which work processes are currently taking place.
Principle of maximum flexibility: Testing in the model factory
Thanks to the roller conveyor, via which the workpiece passes from one machine to the next, as well as various shortcuts, branches or loops, even large factories with many different machines and workpieces are no problem in the simulation. Different variants of scenarios can be created by quickly removing and adding elements. Changes, effects and value contribution are shown effectively and comprehensibly. The clarification of the interaction of the elements of modern production systems can thus be adapted to the individual situation of the interested party.
Example 1: Self-autonomy in production: production of individual knee joints
Objective: Instances of a CPPS realise various advantages of Industry4.0 productions due to an increased autonomy.
Technology used: workpiece carriers, conveyors, machines, robots, workstations, CPS.
Example 2: Smart Cities and optimal energy consumption
Objective: Animations of the side screens illustrate the energy consumption and the perception of the residents. The work represents the journeys of people by car from home to the office and vice versa. Diagrams on the upper sides visualise the current energy level of car, office and home.