Manufacturing different products with flexible machinery

Innovation project: Automation for adaptable production technology

Manufacturing companies face major challenges. Due to short product lifecycles, flexible batch sizes and greater consideration of overall running costs, machinery and equipment must be constructed increasingly quickly, adapted more and more frequently, and developed with an eye to the future in terms of product lifecycles. Currently, flexible machinery concepts can only be adapted as far as the new manufacturing conditions defined when the machinery was designed. Considerable retooling and setup work is required if the necessary adjustments exceed the built-in capabilities of the machinery. Intelligent automation technology is needed to reduce this effort and increase the flexibility of the machinery.

The aim of the research project is to develop intelligent automation technology components for machinery and equipment, such as control systems, operating devices and field instruments. It also includes the development of intelligent design and operating software, with the components and software featuring self-optimization functions.

First, the options for integrating self-configuration into the automation technology are analyzed and evaluated. Existing planning methods and interfaces are supplemented with self-optimization and interaction between the user, machinery, automation technology and controls. In particular, the interaction between different manufacturing processes and with the automation technology is determined, optimized and implemented as a model. This involves drawing on the results of cross-sectional projects in self-optimization and intelligent networking. The developed solutions are tested using practice-oriented demonstration models, before being converted into concrete automation products.

The project makes production machinery easier to plan, commission and adapt, thereby achieving a significant reduction in operating costs. Depending on the manufacturing process, retooling and adjustment savings of up to 30% are expected. By integrating the solutions into further products and standards, such as the neutral data format AutomationML, component and machinery manufacturers outside the cluster can become involved.

Project duration
01 October 2012 - 30 August 2015