Digitization – efficient processes in production and logistics

Technologies and Solutions for Digitalized Value Creation

Industry 4.0 in practice

Fit for the future

However much people talk about digitization, it can be difficult for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in particular to embark upon the process of digital transformation and to convince themselves that the effort is worthwhile. In reality, therefore, Industry 4.0 remains something of a theoretical construct at many companies. Nevertheless, more efficient processes can quickly deliver real added value for staff and businesses alike, provided that they are easy to implement. Fraunhofer IIS is therefore developing specific technology-based solutions for production and logistics that build on the internal processes at SMEs, offering straightforward integration and thereby equipping businesses for the digital future.

 

Digitization as a competitive factor – added value for staff and companies


Less theory, more practice: as part of the research project »Technologies and Solutions for Digitized Value Creation«, we can help your company to adopt Industry 4.0 solutions. By examining your existing intralogistics and industrial processes, we will identify specific starting points and contexts for promising applications. Building on your production and logistics processes, expertise, and resources, we will work with you to implement clearly defined digitization solutions. To this end, Fraunhofer IIS is currently exploring five examples of practical applications that involve interaction between humans and technology. These applications are tested under realistic conditions at our Test and Application Center L.I.N.K. in Nuremberg.

Testing environment and fields of application

 

Test and Application Center L.I.N.K.

At its Nuremberg site, Fraunhofer IIS offers a realistic and application-oriented development and evaluation environment for pioneering technologies and services in the areas of positioning, identification, navigation, and communication. This environment allows companies to map and test real IT and production processes.

 

Smart container management

Used to protect, transport, and store products, containers are a key element of industrial processes. Smart container management for smooth material flows enhances their potential even further. We are therefore implementing a flexible and low-infrastructure system for the identification, monitoring, and positioning of containers.

 

Digitized in-house transport

At most companies, efficiency assessment of in-house transport using industrial trucks is performed manually, with sub-optimal results. We are tapping into this potential for optimization by developing »intelligence« for industrial trucks that enables analysis of individual intralogistics transport processes.

 

Intelligent tools

In many cases, screwing processes have an impact on assembly quality – but they have been difficult to monitor until now. Our solution for quality control and assistance to fitters is a wireless tool-tracking system that records and analyzes the movements and position of screwdrivers in real time.

 

Flexible information system

Each wrong handle in the picking causes additional expenses. However, assistance systems that relieve the order picker can be very installation-intensive. That is why we are developing a flexible, wireless information system for order pickers.

 

Error-free order picking

Every false move in manual order picking leads to extra work, but assistance systems that reduce the burden on pickers can be very complex to install. We are therefore developing a versatile wireless information system for order pickers as well as technology for the integrated validation of picking processes.

Our digital expertise

We are developing vital expertise for practical application in the following areas.

In the future, it is hoped that cyber-physical systems (CPS) will adapt their behavior according to the current process step and their current position. This will require them to reliably determine their own position and recognize process steps based on action points. We are working to improve and expand the functions of existing CPSs, and to develop customer-specific solutions in the area of wireless networking technologies – resulting in position- and process-aware CPSs that increase transparency in production and logistics processes.

The issue of profitability is an ever-present factor in the introduction of new technologies: the innovation only makes sense if it improves the efficiency of business processes, reduces costs, or enables the company to provide additional services. We evaluate your business processes and the impact of deploying the technology, as well as developing new services and business models on your behalf. Our analysis of your business processes is based on our holistic understanding of processes in supply chain management.

Nowadays, there are so many different technologies and IT systems for connecting the real, physical world with the virtual world of IT that it can be difficult to keep track. To ensure efficient, application-oriented implementation of new CPSs, we create the necessary market transparency, develop a modular hardware system, and select suitable hardware and software.

Sustainable decision-making relies on a clear understanding of existing markets and the trends within them. We use scientifically proven methods to analyze the market for Industry 4.0 solutions and the most important parameters that determine their development. In this way, we identify the state of the art, as well as applications and development trends that are relevant to securing investment strategies.

Humans are an essential factor in the success and productivity of Industry 4.0 technologies and applications. With this in mind, we consider every stage of digitization from the perspective of behavioral and social science. We support the design and planning of strategies to implement and communicate the digital transformation that promote motivation and productivity.

The combination of various CPSs into one large system is hampered by the use of different transmission protocols and data formats. At the same time, decentralized storage, processing, and control of data are essential to digital applications. There is a need for the ability to represent and exchange information via common data formats. To this end, we are working on an open messaging protocol that allows individual CPSs to communicate with one another, thereby achieving quick and straightforward compatibility.

Given that Industry 4.0 depends on the seamless exchange of data, IT security is an essential factor in its fundamental acceptance. For selected use cases, we expose and evaluate security risks and derive recommendations for the implementation of corresponding security arrangements. In this context, our focus is on system security and secure wireless communication in field equipment and sensors.

The project

Logo Bayerisches Staatsministerium für Wirtschaft, Landesentwicklung und Energie

Project duration: 2016–2020

This research is supported by the Bavarian Ministry of Economic Affairs, Regional Development and Energy under the lighthouse project »Technologies and Solutions for Digitalized Value Creation«.

It is part of the Digital Production subject platform within the BAYERN DIGITAL initiative.