Research Projects
Factory Planning



Life Cycle Cost Reduction in Electrical Distribution Traffic through Individually Adaptable Powertrain (LiVe)

Traffic and transportation are the second-largest source of harmful CO2 emissions and make a significant contribution to total NOx emissions. Freight traffic and in particular the constantly growing distribution traffic account for a significant share of this. At present, however, there is no electromobile and at the same time economical solution for the use of trucks of EC vehicle class N3 with a maximum total weight of 26t. The aim is to create a field of solutions enabling users to utilise these vehicles in an optimised way with regard to life cycle costs.

The main objective is the modularisation of the powertrain in order to fulfil different customer requirements, taking into account cost-oriented design and integration. The research of modular structures derived from customer requirements, the integration of modules into the vehicle and the validation of powertrain topologies derived from a powertrain kit through the construction of pilot vehicles are the core components of this research project. Furthermore, a new industrialisation approach for the cost-effective production of a modular powertrain kit is explored. Therefore, coordinated factory and assembly planning and its implementation must be realised with a focus on low-investment production technologies with high individualisation potentials.

Sponsored by: Bundesministerium für Umwelt, Naturschutz, Bau und Reaktorsicherheit; Erneuerbar Mobil und VDI/VDE-Innovation und Technik



Minimum investment and highly efficient electric vehicle assembly (LoCoMo)

Today, the majority of the added value of final automobile assembly takes place in a few large mass factories in the central core markets. Various developments show that such cost-intensive and rigid production systems are not suitable for future requirements. New approaches are needed for the economical production of vehicles in decentralized value-added structures close to the market. The approach of the LoCoMo research project consists of flexible low-cost assembly units based on technical process innovations in the form of four fields of action.

The research goals are:

1. Enabling self-propelled e-vehicle chassis to create structural flexibility and reduce infrastructure investments
2. Automatically derive assembly design drawings from product design drawings and print fixtures
3. Breaking up expensive and highly iterative adjustment processes in assembly by using printed elements to compensate for tolerances
4. Research of flexible low-cost assembly structures including the necessary real-time control logic and implementation of a demonstration assembly

Sponsored by: Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Energie



Increasing employee satisfaction in dynamic environments utilizing adaptive automation in assemblies (A4BLUE)

Modern production systems and product ranges have gradually increasing demands on assembly staff. The EU research project A4BLUE, in cooperation with international partners, therefore aims to develop a new generation of sustainable, adaptive assembly workstations that can cope with the changing requirements of modern production. Automated systems need to perform their tasks flexibly and efficiently in individual and personalized interaction with the worker. The aim is to improve working conditions and worker satisfaction.

At the WZL and PEM a use case is therefore being designed that supports the operator in the assembly of e-vehicles through the use of augmented reality solutions and an automatically moving tool trolley. In preparation for the software implementation of Industry 4.0 solutions, a visualization model is designed that documents the material and immaterial resources of production in a transparent and easily understandable manner. Furthermore, an evaluation concept is developed which enables continuous monitoring of modern assembly workstations in order to validate the implemented solutions. A methodology will also be developed for the future design of assembly systems that will enable sustainable design by identifying and implementing individually optimal and adaptive degrees of automation.

Sponsored by: Horizon 2020 European Union funding for Research & Innovation



Multivariable automation decisions for volume- and product-flexible flow assembly (MAproFli)

Traditionally, the optimum degree of automation is determined by using monetary comparison calculations. However, a purely monetary assessment is not sufficient. The aim of the MAproFli research project is therefore to develop a decision methodology for the optimum degree of automation in volume and product flexible flow assembly based on multivariable criteria.
First of all, the decision-making ability is to be improved by a context-relevant selection of the decision factors and the necessary degree of adaptability are to be mapped. Based on this, a selection and evaluation of automation alternatives can be made. An improvement of the decision quality for automation alternatives is to be achieved through the transfer of findings from ergonomics, decision theory and proven methods of economic efficiency calculation. Finally, the decision effort is to be reduced through a multivariable decision methodology and the development of a software solution based on the decision methodology. The area of investigation concentrates on the flow assembly of medium to large series.

Sponsored by: DFG-Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft



Made in Aachen - (Re-)Integration of Production in Urban Areas (MIA)

The joint research project Made in Aachen (MIA) analyzes challenges and effects of urban production exemplified by the locations Aachen Nord and Campus West. For decades, production sites have been pushed out of urban areas due to constraining factors such as emissions, land costs or lack of space. Urban production is discussed as an opportunity for cities and companies in the course of global urbanisation, the creation of attractive, residential workplaces and increasing individualisation through industry 4.0. As a result, a virtual and physical-real demonstrator visualizes the feasibility and social acceptance of urban production.

Sponsored by: Federal Ministry of Education and Research



Cyber-physical systems from small and medium-sized enterprises for small and medium-sized enterprises (cyberKMU²)

The move to Industry 4.0 is particularly important for manufacturing SMEs in order to maintain their competitiveness and innovative capacity and to be able to compete on a global scale. Cyber Physical Systems (CPS) are essential technology components for the implementation of Industry 4.0, but SMEs in particular find it difficult to transfer the abstract term "Cyber Physical Systems" as a solution component for their operational problems.
The cyberKMU² project is developing an online platform that supports manufacturing SMEs in identifying Cyber Physical Systems and finding suitable technology providers. The selection is made through an analysis of the requirements of the user companies in the consortium and an analysis of the Cyber Physical Systems on the market. To ensure the quality of the evaluation method, the recommended solutions are implemented and validated using specific demonstrators in the user companies.

Sponsored by: European Union (EU)



PrOlonged Life Cycle for Electric vehicles (POLICE) – Extended (initial) service life time due to updatable vehicle concepts (BMWi)

The POLICE research project aims to increase the service life time and the associated increase of the attractiveness of electric vehicles. By remanufacturing, the targeted replacement of certain components, updatable vehicles can be modernized and maintained in a new condition. In addition to the investigation of various battery concepts, the development of flexible connection elements and processes and the material qualification of 3D printing for replacement components, the design of assembly/dismantling for the remanufacturing of electric vehicles is also being examined. During the development of the assembly/dismantling concept, the main focus is on the areas of assembly layout, provision and employee qualification.

Sponsored by: Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Energie und Elektro Power II



Modular energy construction system for factories: integrated modular production and energy planning (imPROvE)

imPROve stands for "integrated modular production and energy planning". The goal of imPROve is to increase the energy efficiency of factories. The key is the integration and networking of factory and energy system as well as the cross-phase consideration of conceptual design, implementation planning and operation of the factory. The central task of imPROvE is therefore the development of integrated methods and tools for production and energy planning.



Graduate College Startup Managment

In the Graduiertenkolleg Anlaufmanagement, decision models are developed in interdisciplinary cooperation that place the system behavior of the start-up management in relation to the decision bases, decision-making abilities and target systems of the individual decisions to be made at the start. Decision models make it possible to systematically improve future production start-up decisions, anticipate problems and proactively develop problem-solving strategies.

Sponsored by: DFG-Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft



Virtual Production Intelligence goes Virtual Reality

As part of the research project, relevant questions and results from real factory planning projects are transferred to the virtual factory. The WZL is involved in the development of two demonstrators. On the one hand, key figures relevant for factory planning are defined and visualised in flapASSIST, a three-dimensional virtual factory planning environment. In addition, the information flows of factory planning projects are analyzed and integrated into Virtual Production Intelligence. Both are based directly on the Aachen factory planning procedure.

Sponsored by: DFG-Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft



A selection of our completed research projects:



Adaptive Assembly for XXL-Produts (AiF/BVL)

The assembly of large-scale products is organized as site or stand assembly and is often characterized by poor data availability, low process standardization and multiple product changes, which leads to frequent assembly disturbances. This research project is therefore developing a methodology that enables the identification, evaluation and visualisation of process alternatives in the event of malfunction. This methodology will be implemented in an easy-to-use, platform-independent software demonstrator, which is intended to provide small and medium-sized enterprises in particular with support in order to be able to react in the event of assembly disruptions.