• Setting up a new production cell
  • Nine companies involved as trade fair partners

Sustainability and resilience have been declared as core elements in the flexible production of tomorrow. The need for distributed manufacturing with networked machines is currently more evident than ever. “Climate developments confirm the critical importance of energy efficiency and resource conservation,” said Prof. Martin Ruskowski, Chairman of the Executive Board of SmartFactoryKL. He continued, “The loss of Ukraine as a manufacturing center underscores how production architectures must be able to adapt quickly so that alternatives can be quickly implemented. At our stand in Hannover, we demonstrate how both can work.”

Sustainability is more than “eco”
Ruskowski emphasized the content-related triad of sustainability: Economic, environmental, and social. “For companies to achieve long term economic stability in the future, environmental sustainability must be assured. The failure to protect the environment in the past was ultimately borrowing from the future, the follow-up costs of which are now becoming increasingly visible,” he said. “Successful companies care about nature as well as their employees.” Economic sustainability means that companies exist for a long time, guaranteeing job stability and the manufacturing of products that are both wanted and needed. The recent trend away from mass-produced goods is continuing as we move toward individually configured products. “To do this, a company must be able to use the means of production flexibly”, said Ruskowski. “Until now, diversity has been achieved by companies having many machines and through classic, but inflexible, outsourcing. That approach is wrong. It makes more sense to be able to flexibly access many production resources in a partner network, similar to car sharing. In that way, it is easier to manufacture individual products and choose the most energy-efficient machines for the jobs.”

The production cell in Hannover works with machines in Kaiserslautern
How this works is the subject of a live demonstration at the SmartFactoryKL stand (Hall 8, D18). Visitors can configure a model truck on the spot. Production begins simultaneously in Hannover, Kaiserslautern, and other companies participating in the network. In the future, for example, a small CO2 footprint can be emphasized during configuration. “Our software agents then prioritize the respective machines to perform the manufacturing. This approach is revolutionary,” said Ruskowski. “It shows how we achieve sustainable and flexible production.” The concept of shared production is made visible up close in Hannover through live connections to the other production sites.

Nine companies, many technical innovations
The list of technologies built into the demonstrator is a long one: 5G, digital twins, industrial edge cloud, skill-based production, administrative shell, digital engines, artificial intelligence, modularity, OT security, smart safety, and shared production. The companies represented are B&R Automation, Fujitsu, German Edge Cloud, Harting, Huawei, IBM, PILZ, TÜV SÜD and TU Kaiserslautern. In addition to hands-on demonstrations, the latest developments will be presented on stage and broadcast live to the Internet. “Our main focus this year is on contacting people directly on site. But, we learned during the pandemic that digital channels must also be used,” said Ruskowski.

Trying out the future today
The visionaries in Kaiserslautern have been thinking of the future for years. It began with Industrie 4.0 and continues with Production Level 4. “It is clear to our members that the future starts today. Companies that don’t understand this will be ‘Kodak-ed’ in the long term, a manager said to me the other day, referring to the camera film company.” Many developments from Kaiserslautern in their complexity are not easy game: “Industrie 4.0 caused question marks in the early days,” said Ruskowski, adding, “Today it is the clear direction of movement.” Scientists and member companies are all convinced that the first steps of future production are already visible today, for example, at Hannover Messe 2022, in Hall 8, Stand D18.

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