Industry 4.0

Efficient, linked, flexible: the value-added chain of the future#

We develop applicable solutions for factories in order to increase efficiency and added value by combining information technology, company organization and mechanical engineering. Our clients’ benefits are our objectives when applying our competences and experience from local, national and international projects and when providing support from the first idea to realization. Our advanced solutions and services address the leading theme of industry 4.0 in industrial production.

The human role in the smart factory#

In the factory of the future humans play a more central and more responsible role than before. New technologies enable a completely new work style. In order to support humans in fulfilling their new tasks, the processes in which they are actively involved have to be planned efficiently. By applying established methods (e.g. MTM) and tools for workplace design (tools of the digital factory), manual processes and workplaces can be designed efficiently and ergonomically. Furthermore, research focuses on novel concepts for IT assistance systems for greater decision-making autonomy.

Maintenance 4.0#

By integrating real and virtual sensors into production plants and by performing specific evaluations of the recorded data in an in-house “maintenance cloud”, entirely new possibilities open up for generating maintenance-relevant information. Combining expert knowledge and technical know-how for recording and evaluating data and for error analysis provides new quality in monitoring and maintaining plants and in predicting the remaining service life of almost any industrial machine or plant.

Self-regulating systems#

© Fraunhofer IWU

In contrast to control, the term regulation describes adaptive systems that react to feedback by adjusting to altered boundary conditions in the production process. We develop and test intelligent software tools, for example for supporting the adjustment process in car body manufacturing, or we use the properties of shape-memory alloys to integrate functional material properties into components and assembly groups.

Intelligent process chains#

© Fraunhofer IWU

In order to coordinate individual processes by considering their interactions with down-stream and up-stream process stages and to react to errors in a timely manner, plant technology has to be monitored seamlessly along the entire process chain, if possible. The Fraunhofer IWU develops solutions for process monitoring and intelligent control based on production-oriented model process chains in car body manufacturing and the production of powertrain components. In addition, these solutions are tested under factory conditions.  

Demonstration and cross-learning#

Research projects in the areas of car body construction and powertrain, conducted while considering industry 4.0 can be tested and optimized in a production-oriented manner at the Fraunhofer IWU in a model factory unique in Germany. Furthermore, these research projects can be demonstrated to a broad professional public of industry and science. Due to close networking with representative industrial and scientific partners, and especially resulting from the intensive collaboration with small and medium-sized enterprises and the participation in national lighthouse projects and large projects, realistic multiplier effects are achieved cross-industry when disseminating and demonstrating new solutions of industry 4.0.