Intelligent and resource-efficient production – that is part of the vision of Industry 4.0. The change to cyber-physical production systems is not possible in a single step, however.
In the MetamoFAB research project, Festo, together with partners, researches solutions to enable the metamorphosis of existing operations into intelligent and networked factories. The knowledge gained will be used at Festo in the The Energy Transparency System (ETS) helps the Technology Plant to achieve its energy targets for the Scharnhausen Technology Plant.
When it comes to the metamorphosis to intelligent and networked factories, all the participants and things involved, such as people, machinery, workpieces, IT and building infrastructure, must be incorporated. This change can only be managed one step at a time, as a comprehensive changeover interrupts production operations and high investment costs are necessary. The transformation process must therefore take place in steps, so that the switch to the factory of the future is gradually achieved and the latests methods and technologies are implemented.
Aims of the project
The aims of the MetamoFAB research project are to describe phases of the transition and to find ways to implement it, in order to integrate successive cyber-physical systems with existing modernisation and development plans. This will make it possible for operations to metamorphose into intelligent and networked factories.
Investigations are first being carried out into which aspects of Industry 4.0 are relevant for the respective factory. Based on this, plans will be prepared – so-called blueprints – which will bring the factory towards the vision for the specific location. The application case for Festo is the Technology Plant in Scharnhausen.
The facilities in the production of the future will have a virtual, digital depiction. This will be made possible by using intelligent components in the production plants. Overall networked systems composed of sensors and distributed control systems record the operational data of the machine – for example, whether there is a fault, whether too few parts are available or how much energy is being consumed – and continually make this data available to an overriding system. Using mobile terminal devices like smartphones and tablets, this data can be retrieved and graphically prepared to show a virtual depiction of the production plant. This virtual depiction provides many benefits: for example, system errors can be discovered and reported early.
In the research project, the energy data from a production area is studied, from an individual machine through to the entire factory building. The first prototype visualised the operating statuses and the energy flows in the machines and the building technology. The consumption levels of all the relevant production facilities will be scrutinised in the project one by one, so that an energy transparency system (ETS) for the whole factory can emerge.
The employees at the plant have access to consumption data and are able to follow this. These consumption measurements sensitise the employees to the issue of energy efficiency and thus help to motivate them to identify further potential savings and develop implementation measures. The ETS supports this process and visualises the target achievement process.
Besides continuously measuring consumption, the system is also intended to monitor machines and point out irregularities in energy consumption – for example due to wear and tear. In this way, machines can be automatically switched off in future during production-free periods. The communication of individual machines with each other is expected to enable the factory to regulate itself in the most energy efficient way.
One of the visions of the ETS is that it will be able to communicated with the energy supplier's network in future. The factory would, among other things, thereby be in a position to react to a surplus of power from sun and wind energy. Conversely, the factory could reduce its energy demand if it is cloudy and the wind is not blowing. The factory can therefore contribute to the optimal utilisation of the supply networks and help to save energy costs.
Other project partners
The project MetamoFAB is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) within the research programme “Research for the production of tomorrow” (funding reference number 02PJ4045). Besides Festo, the following partners are involved:
From the field of science
- IAT (University of Stuttgart - Institute of Industrial Engineering and Technology Management)
- LSWi (University of Potsdam – Institute of Information Systems and Electronic Government)
- Fraunhofer IPK
- Wildau Institute of Technology (associated partner)
- Pickert & Partner