smartMA-X lays the foundation for the production of tomorrow

  • Funded project ends, technical development to continue
  • Industrie 4.0: Entering the era of applications

The funding for smartMA-X ended on May 31, 2024. The BMWK project laid the foundation for Shared Production Kaiserslautern, where key technologies are being developed for the production systems of the future. “Our shared production system combines Industrie 4.0 technologies such as Gaia-X, administration shells, and skill-based manufacturing, while giving us a preview of the future possibilities of autonomous sharing of production resources,” said project manager Simon Jungbluth adding, “This is just the beginning. We are developing these results and will continue to advance along this path.” The 4th Industrial Revolution was officially hailed as Industrie 4.0 (I40) in 2011. “Now, the time for PowerPoint presentations is over. We are at the start of the era of applications,” said Dr. Ingo Herbst, Head of Communications at SmartFactory-KL (SFKL). “Together with our partners, we are showing that Industrie 4.0 is real and how it works.”

Project smartMA-X was launched on January 1, 2021. The core objectives agreed from the outset were resilience, sustainability, and optimization of value creation. To this end, a shared production system with several production islands was set up in Kaiserslautern to implement new technologies and test how production organized in a data space and supported by Gaia-X can function.

The SmartFactory-KL data space
SFKL developed a communication model for horizontal networking of companies using Eclipse dataspace connectors. At Shared Production Kaiserslautern, production islands take on the role of the companies, for example, suppliers or contract manufacturers. The automated integration of production units in the data space is based on the Capability-Skill-Service (CSS) information model proposed by Plattform Industrie 4.0. Manufacturing functions are called up in the data space as Production-as-a-Service. Order processing begins with the Siemens NX feature extraction function. By matching the capabilities, potential partners can be reached, who may then reply to the request for offers.

Artificial Intelligence
The optimal choice among the possible production services and the dynamic placement of orders for the respective problem at runtime is a mathematically complex task. “We use artificial intelligence methods (Deep Reinforcement Learning) for production planning”, said Jungbluth, “specifically, because we want to react more flexibly and dynamically when adapting to the production environment. Primarily, we want to be able to continue production in the event of errors without jeopardizing the KPI.”

Digital twins
The CSS model is also used to develop and implement reference architectures for vertical networking within a company for mass-customizable products using adaptive production
methods. For the semantic descriptions, the research scientists use the OPC UA information model for production resources and energy nodes, as well as the AAS submodel for services and capabilities. In addition, we implement a holonic, multi-agent system as an active component in the AAS. “This provides a great advantage,” said Jungbluth, “as we can map the fractal structure of our factory and, depending on the level of granularity, we can place our intelligent units deep down into the field level.” The complexity is reduced for the user by representing entire factories as a holon and abstracting all interactions between production units.

Project results from smartMA-X are being further developed
“The remarkable thing about smartMA-X”, said Herbst, “is that the results are already being applied in other projects.” For example, in the TWIN4TRUCKS project: “TWIN4TRUCKS develops, among other things, the technical implementation of connectors and adaptors based on the concepts in Gaia-X for cross-sector data exchange,” said project manager Dr. Ekkehard Brümmer from Daimler Truck. Ideas from smartMA-X are also being seized upon in the Manufacturing-X initiative and SFKL is actively working with Factory-X and 47 other partners to implement the production of the future.

Past Milestones for smartMA-X:

2021: Presentation of the smartMA-X vision
April: smartMA-X limited to digital presentations at Hannover Messe because of the Corona restrictions.

2022: Early project successes
April: smartMA-X live demo at Hannover Messe. Presentation given on the Industrie 4.0 Conference Stage.

Mai: First successful use-case of cross-company quality control data exchange on the basis of international data space architectures.

September: Presentation at Pitchday Datenraum Industrie 4.0., where smartMA-X was selected as one of the three most promising projects in the Gaia-X Industrie 4.0 data space.

December: Publication of white paper  ”Information Model for Capabilities, Skills & Services” by Plattform I4.0. Publication of white paper ”„Fähigkeiten in der Produktionsautomatisierung – Konsolidierung des Konzepts aus Sicht des Maschinen- und Anlagenbaus mit dem Schwerpunkt OPC UA” (German language) by VDMA.

2023: First prototype built for cross-company production
April: Publication of brochure  ”smartMA-X: Das Testbed für die Fertigung im Datenraum Industrie 4.0″ (German language). First cross-company production takes place between four production islands using Eclipse Dataspace Connectors.

smartMA-X is live at the Hannover Messe. Presentation given on the Industrie 4.0Conference Stage.

June: Release of smartMA-X architecture  ”Realisierung einer Shared Production: Integration von Plattform Industrie 4.0 und Gaia-X-Konzepten” (German language).

2024: The I4.0 data space goes live
February: Publication of brochure  ”smartMA-X: Mit Datenräumen in die Produktion der Zukunft”. Launch of the Gaia-X Roadshow in Kaiserslautern with Gaia-X Hub Germany and AISBL. Participation at Manufacturing-X-Day in Würzburg.

April: Presentation of the I4.0 data space, which combines Production-as-a-Service with the idea of a circular economy using OPC UA, AAS, and Eclipse dataspace connectors at five production islands. smartMA-X sends panelists to the BMWK stage to discuss “Innovative models for federated data ecosystems.”

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