SOPHIE research project

Linking real and digital production 

SOPHIE research project

In the case of the Industry 4.0 project, SOPHIE, the focus is on linking the real production with the digital factory in real time. Virtual technologies are intended to enable employees to compare planned and real procedures directly in production with one another and to safeguard interventions in the process sequence using simulations.

Enormous amounts of data arise in a digital factory. In order to be able to manage this data better and thereby reduce the workload for industrial companies, autonomously operating agent systems could perform analyses on the production processes independently in future and suggest decision options to the employee.

The SOPHIE project is concerned precisely with these scenarios and is divided into four work packages:

  • Developing and testing concepts for presenting information relevant to planning in an understandable and needs-based way and for using this information on various terminal devices
  • Developing and integrating an agent-based software system for planning support purposes
  • Real-time linking of the automation levels of the real with the digital factory in order to be able to simulate production realistically
  • Organisational integration of the system used for planning and decision-making support with the corporate structure including the participation and training of the employees concerned

Aim of the project

Decisions should be made faster, more efficiently and more intuitively with the help of modular planning support tools. Virtual illustrations are intended to enable decision makers to compare planned and real procedures directly in production and should be able to safeguard interventions in the process sequence using simulations.


In small-series production at the Festo site in St. Ingbert-Rohrbach, products are made and assembled highly flexibly, as very small batches are produced. The production is characterised by short cycle times as well as very short reaction times to the customer. Over and above this, prioritising the order depends on setting-up times and the utilisation of the facilities and of the resource availabilities. But many upstream and downstream process steps also play a part in the daily planning. Using a simulation service, as provided by SOPHIE, this complexity can be managed more easily. The first applications of the system in the pilot area were very promising.

Other project partners

Projektpartner SOPHIE

Project sponsor: German Aerospace Centre (DLR)

Consortium leader: Festo learning centre in Saar

Research and development partners:

  • Festo learning centre
  • Gefasoft Group
  • SimPlan
  • Ruhr-Universität Bochum
  • Office of Cooperation Ruhr-Universität Bochum/Industrial Metal Union
  • Chemnitz University of Technology

Application partners:

  • Festo producing plant in Rohrbach (pilot area in small-series production):
  • Vorwerk, Wuppertal
  • VW Motorenwerk Chemnitz
  • GROB-Werke GmbH & Co. KG, Mindelheim


  • VDMA
  • Siemens PLM Software

Project SOPHIE (‘synchronous production by semi-autonomous planning and human-centred decision support) is sponsored by the ‘IKT 2020 – Forschung für Innovationen’ funding programme initiated by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research.