In the research hall for "Cellular Transport Systems" (CTS), which covers an area of more than a thousand square meters, the transport vehicles find the way all by themselves. The researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics have built a complete warehouse center in the CTS hall with shelves and picking stations, where scientists investigate how "swarm intelligence" can be exploited for logistics. At the same time, the hall is one of the largest fields of experimentation for the application of artificial intelligence in logistics. A swarm of 50 vehicles decide among themselves who takes on the job and can therefore adapt much more flexibly. Industry 4.0 is being created and designed in NRW.
It is approaching stealthily, but at a rapid pace: The merging of the real and virtual world, the networking of humans, machines and products. In short: Industry 4.0. The Internet has opened the door to flexible production processes: You would like to order your new car online in your favorite color, perhaps with your name engraved on the hood? No problem, thanks to intelligent machines: You book capacities on various machines, procure the necessary parts yourself, download the required data from the manufacturer, control production and also notify the carrier of the delivery date – welcome to the factory of tomorrow.
As an industrial state, NRW is predestined to be involved in shaping the future of industrial production. And it is precisely here that NRW finds itself in the middle of the chase: From uniform mass production to flexible production processes – and the intelligent factory.
In Blomberg/NRW the manufacturer of connection and automation technology, Phoenix Contact, uses modern, self-controlling machinery for the labeling and inspection of components. When these components have arrived at the laser station, the unit automatically becomes active. It reads the information from a radio chip and immediately starts printing. In the course of production, the system automatically detects a vacant test bed. It sends the component there and begins with the test. Even errors are no problem for the intelligent factory: If a fault occurs, the system automatically requests a service technician via SMS and specifies the reason for the malfunction. Production meanwhile continues uninterrupted.
In St. Augustin/NRW the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Information Technology (FIT) tries out techniques to coordinate material usage, machine running time and energy as efficiently as possible. To this end, each individual work step is carefully examined and evaluated. This is done with a computer system which monitors the factory using numerous sensors. The feedback from the sensors allows the researchers to improve all the processes and detect machines that are not being used efficiently.
The agricultural machinery from Claas is equipped with a variety of sensors that continuously supply the latest information to the driver's cab. For example, samples relating to crop yields, moisture or test weight are continuously transmitted in a combine harvester if required. The vehicles are now even connected to the cloud: Readings are transmitted to the cloud using the LTE wireless communication standard. Special software processes the data and makes it available to the relevant employees. Due to the rapid expansion of LTE in the countryside, farmers can access fast Internet connections even at remote locations.
The leading-edge cluster and technology network "it's OWL" | In the technology network Intelligent Technical Systems OstWestfalenLippe – it's OWL – a unique technology platform is being created in a joint venture involving technology leaders and leading research institutions that will provide growth and jobs in the region and contribute to securing production in Germany. Recognized as a leading-edge cluster by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), it develops intelligent technical systems in 46 research projects, turning Industry 4.0 into reality.
Mobile World Congress, Barcelona
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