• SmartFactoryKL plans broad participation at Hannover Fair (Messe) 2021
  • 22 companies and research institutes collaborate on the new demonstrator

“We create visions and subject them to technical testing,” said Prof. Martin Ruskowski, Chair of SmartFactory Kaiserslautern. “So it is with the GAIA-X project and also for Production Level 4 and the digital Hannover Messe. As researchers, we are always in unexplored territory. But, we do not let that deter us.”

A headline and an extensive program
SmartFactoryKL and its members formulated a new byline for Hannover Messe 2021: With GAIA-X Towards Production Level 4. “GAIA-X is a major European initiative and a key element in our vision of Production Level 4. This is why our exhibit primarily features GAIA-X and Production Level 4,” said Ruskowski. “We also provide an outlook on multi-agent systems and their role in the future. As always, our demonstrator will be the center of attention. The demonstrator is the technical implementation of our Production Level 4 (PL4) vision and an initial technical step that shows our ideas really work,” he added.
On April 12, SmartFactoryKL will broadcast live all day long from the Living Lab plus, intermittently, on Tuesday through Thursday in 25-minute time slots via the show’s Messe portal and on YouTube. The topics revolve around future modular safety requirements, new system architectures, artificial intelligence in manufacturing, ERP systems of tomorrow, interchangeable modules and automated release, the role of humans in factories, and many, many other topics as well. Prof. Ruskowski will present the vision in his keynote address on April 13 at 2:45 p.m. Then, on Thursday (April 15), the topic is “10 Years of Industrie 4.0” at 1:00 p.m.

GAIA-X and Production Level 4
The GAIA-X data platform is a prerequisite for shared production, as recognized by SmartFactoryKL in 2019 in its vision of future production, Production Level 4 (PL4). GAIA-X will ensure secure and reliable data exchange between machines and data services. “Data sovereignty must be guaranteed on such a platform for companies to participate with their production machines,” said Ruskowski. PL4 relies on a networked structure of production, in which machines announce their capabilities so that all partners in the network can call on them for use in production. Whether the production system sits on a factory floor or is spread across the whole of Europe will no longer matter. The coordination will be performed by software agents (production Bots), which confer among themselves and execute the orders. “We currently have several research projects involving multi-agent systems,” said Ruskowski. Some involve automobile manufacturers that have recognized the signs of the times. They represent the core of our vision.”

At Hannover Fair since 2014
The first Industrie 4.0 demonstrator was exhibited at the Hannover Fair in 2014. In 2020, SmartFactoryKL and its members wanted to show the first Production-Level 4 demonstrator, but the pandemic and the cancellation of the Fair made that impossible. “We have been and still are a reliable partner of the Hannover Fair. That is why we plan to participate this year,” said Ruskowski. The new demonstrator was finished in 2020 after a nine month effort. The original number of 11 partners in the creation of the new demonstrator has grown to 22 today. “There have been many intense and exciting discussions at the meetings and in the working groups,” said Ruskowski adding, “And, sometimes we were acting ahead of the curve. Although GAIA-X had only been presented as a concept shortly before, we had already implemented a GAIA-X use case. At first, this generated many questions because no one quite knew what GAIA-X was all about. Today, everyone wants to participate.” SmartFactory-KL is currently working on the technical proposals for GAIA-X, dealing with how companies, machines, and services will connect to GAIA-X. The research project is called smartMA-X and our demonstrator in Kaiserslautern serves as the test bed.

22 Members of SmartFactory-KL initiative collaborate on the world’s first PL4 demonstrator
The pandemic forced many manufacturing firms to realize how hierarchical structures are vulnerable to external factors. Resilience has become the buzzword of the day. “Nothing new for us,” said Ruskowski. “Resilience in manufacturing has been one of our goals for many years, along with buzzwords like production optimization, resource conservation, and multi-agent systems. Our vision completely reformulates production. For example, we are developing a new system architecture that breaks down the rigid hierarchical structure.” During the time of the pandemic, the members of SmartFactoryKL met in virtual working groups to review research findings, plan the next strategic steps, and consolidate new technologies. The participation of each company varies greatly. “Some are engaged intensively in the working groups, others collaborate on new development and testing of prototypes, while others contribute new technical designs,” said Stephan Hamm, who is responsible for member collaboration on the demonstrator.

Demonstrator partners 2021

  • B&R Industrie-Elektronik
  • BELDEN Electronics
  • Bosch Rexroth
  • Deutsche Telekom
  • DFKI
  • Empolis Information Management
  • EPLAN Software & Service
  • German Edge Cloud
  • Huawei Technologies Düsseldorf
  • IBM Deutschland
  • KIST Europe Research
  • MiniTec
  • Pfalzkom
  • Perinet
  • Pilz
  • proALPHA Business Solutions
  • Siemens
  • TE Connectivity Germany
  • Technische Universität Kaiserslautern
  • Weidmüller Interface

Scroll to Top