»R2D – Road to digital production«

Beacon of digitization in Nuremberg sends strong signals

Beginning in September 2016, our Center for Applied Research on Supply Chain Services SCS and our Positioning and Networks Division worked with Siemens AG, Simplifier AG, and KINEXON Industries GmbH on the digitization of individualized industrial production processes as part of the R2D – Road to Digital Production project. The aim was to develop a cyber-physical production system (CPPS) for production processes with a lot size of 1, allowing processes to be automated for improved cooperation between humans and technology. This was intended to flexibilize and speed up the centralized planning of production and material supply, which was commonplace until now, while ensuring optimum quality assurance. To this end, a product is accompanied throughout the production process by a Smart Production Tag that features communication and positioning capabilities as well as carrying product data and context information. This allows it to act independently in order to recognize, log, and control process steps on the basis of dynamic decision-making.

To ensure successful implementation, it was necessary not only to define the production process clearly and select suitable technologies, but also to develop software that integrated the recorded data into the existing infrastructure. Decentralized control of the CPPS was also supported by a real-time positioning system – for example, to ensure that driverless transport vehicles can be located and can navigate to the next destination independently. The generated data was used for a range of applications, including elements to support networked operations, such as intelligent apps for tablets, smartwatches, and eye tracking.

In February 2019, the end of the project was marked by a three-day event to present the results, including a live presentation of the 1,500-square-meter proof-of-concept demonstrator at our Test and Application Center L.I.N.K. in Nuremberg. Guests from Germany and abroad were impressed by the practical relevance of the implementation, with many saying they either wanted to apply selected technologies at their company divisions or implement the CPPS technology in its entirety within their organization. With this in mind, we are working with Siemens AG, Simplifier AG, and KINEXON Industries GmbH to explore the possibility of followup projects.

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