Decentralized automation for adaptable production

Innovation project: Innovative automation devices through industrial IT

The increasing complexity and diversity of products, along with shorter product life cycles, make it highly challenging to design and run production units. These must be capable of manufacturing a wide variety of different products with specifications that were often unknown when the equipment was designed and commissioned. The central control systems currently in use allow only a limited degree of flexibility in automation, requiring frequent machinery conversions at great effort and cost. To improve the adaptability of production processes, control functions must be distributed among individual automation technology components when the machinery is designed.

The aim of the project is to develop a model-based design process for decentralized automation technology components in production units, in order to make manufacturing processes flexible and efficient.

To that end, it is necessary to identify what is required of decentralized automation technology for complex equipment in the process and manufacturing industries. The next step is to model intelligent components, such as sensor-actuator interfaces or signal converters, and communication technologies, such as traditional fieldbuses for controlling communication or industrial Ethernet as an innovative means of exchanging data. The final stage is the development of a software tool to simulate the components and how they automatically interact. The project draws on the results of cross-sectional projects in self-optimization, intelligent networking and systems engineering. The results are validated using prototypes and then implemented as software for designing adaptable automation systems.

The project results improve the adaptability of production processes. The work involved in developing automation technology and in commissioning and adapting equipment to changes in production conditions is reduced. The design process can be transferred to other fields such as energy technology, traffic engineering or building automation.

Project duration
01 October 2012 - 30 September 2014