Cluster of Excellence Internet of ProductionCopyright: © IoP/Riedel
Anja Wassong, M.A.
Marketing and Communication Cluster of Excellence Internet of Production
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The topic of "digitalization" has taken on a very special and new significance in 2020, not only within the framework of the Internet of Production (IoP) cluster of excellence as a result of and in dealing with the pandemic. The global impact required new and more far-reaching dimensions in terms of rethinking and flexibility in every respect. The fact that supply chains alone, which have been made more difficult or even completely cut, have had an impact on production is just one of the obvious examples of being confronted with problems and consequences on a previously unknown scale. Topics such as mobility, material availability, as well as the walkability and usability of workspaces and possibilities for data availability and use have thus taken on a completely new focus, the relevance and topicality of which - especially of the Cluster of Excellence research topics - has once again become much more visible.
Since January 1, 2019, the IoP has been providing decisive research impetus for shaping the future of the digitalization of production technology. The association of more than 35 professors, including those from production technology, computer science, materials science and economics, as well as occupational science and psychology, is jointly pursuing the goal of innovatively rethinking and effectively advancing Industry 4.0 across disciplinary boundaries and for industrial practice. The vision of the IoP is to enable a new level of cross-domain collaboration by providing semantically adequate and context-dependent data from production, development and use in real time at an appropriate granularity.
Diversity of digital research topics in the IoP - Digital shadows of production
Over the course of the next few years, the participating scientists will jointly consider the complete range of core production technology topics, starting with a digital infrastructure for data-driven industrial production.
One of the core elements here are the so-called digital shadows, which serve as containers for smart data. Within a new cross-domain and cross-industry infrastructure, they should enable a significant increase in cooperation productivity within and between the complex domains - production, development and utilization. In particular, the interdisciplinary challenges, including the integration of production engineering models into data-driven machine learning, will be advanced in Aachen in the coming years. With regard to the economic efficiency of a production of the future, the IoP sees innovative approaches in its vision with regard to the multitude of already very mature highly specialized technologies, but also the electrochemical processing of materials or, for example, in the field of additive manufacturing, but already starts with factory and production planning up to the usability of smart data in the context of new business models.
Innovative examples of IoP research at the WZL
The variety of production engineering topics that can be found on the part of all four WZL chairs in all IoP research areas is great. And even if the topic of digitization owes the circumstance of not being particularly tangible, the contents are validated in a practical way using numerous demonstrators. In addition to "tangible" machines, such as the CNC Competence Center, which specializes in the individual single-part production of highly complex turned and milled components and in which high-frequency process data acquisition based on model-based machine data analysis with process-parallel quality analysis of the produced components succeeds in real time, it is precisely the real-time usability and evaluation of machine data that represents a major opportunity for the field of predictive maintenance, i.e. the predictability of failures in the event of wear and fatigue.
Also vivid and concretely visible on site is the work within the M.A.R.S. (Metrology, Assembly and Robotic Systems) infrastructure, where the production-integrated use of intelligent sensor technology within various test benches is demonstrated. For example, "Free Float Flawless Assembly" enables flexible spatial use of mobile robots, actuators and sensors without fixed points, even in confined spaces, and thus flexible automation of the assembly of large components using mobile production units.
Another example deals with the creation of numerous apps, one example here being "Footprint Management". A further development of the "OptiWo app", an app developed in the predecessor cluster EXC128 and now "intelligently" optimized to react to changes as quickly as possible and thus act as decision support in Production Network Planning. Shortening these adaptation times holds great potential and will be the focus here in the coming months.
National and international visibility of the IoP
The visibility of the Cluster of Excellence research has increased significantly in the past year - despite or even due to Corona - the focus on global topics, problems and innovative solutions has increased. This can also be seen in the steadily growing interest from industry and the expansion of the Industrial Advisory Board in the past year. In addition to the global players in Industry 4.0 with global corporations such as BMW, Airbus or Siemens, numerous well-known companies along the entire supply and value chains are established in the IoP. In the past year, the content focus in interaction with IT also strengthened the portfolio here with players such as AWS and Microsoft, among others. Similarly, the list of renowned female scientists from around the world who advise the IoP for scientific feedback as part of the Scientific Advisory Board (SAB).
It is not only the expansions of the two boards that increased the national and international visibility of cluster research. In addition to existing cooperations (e.g. KEIO, SNU, University of Shanghai), this network could be further expanded in 2020, for example with the Saint Petersburg Polytechnic University. Within the framework of digital possibilities, the IoP has also been able to exploit its potential here and has also been able to "digitally" show "@home presence", so to speak, at numerous conferences around the world and set impulses, thus further expanding its visibility and scientific clout.
The interdisciplinary collaboration of the research teams is also supported by, among other things, agile management structures within the IoP and the systematic promotion of young scientists within the framework of the Research School and promoted along the scientific development phases (bachelor's and master's students, doctoral candidates & postdocs) and disciplines. The IoP thus not only sets a basis for the future of digitalized production technology research, but also structurally, which promotes new topics and dynamics and also provides space for creativity and innovation.