Monday, April 30, 2012
Factories are complex facilities with a long "lifespan," which need to be permanently outfitted to accommodate changing products, markets, and technologies, and to fulfill both the economic and ecological requirements of sustainable, long-term production. This adaptation process, called factory engineering and design, requires digital tools to support factory lifecycle phases, from investment planning to ramp-up and full production, until their eventual environmentally-friendly dismantling. Factory engineering and design is also applied along factory scales, from networks and supply chains to production sites, infrastructure, manufacturing systems, machines, workplaces, and processes. "Digital Factory" methodologies and tools are employed for continuously integrated product design, as well as process and factory planning and optimization, which aim to increase planning efficiency and reliability regarding costs, time and quality. This process indirectly affects the amount of time required for manufacturing and bringing the products to market, as well as value-adding operation efficiency.
The "Digital Factory" is a joint research project of the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation (Fraunhofer IPA), the Institute for Industrial Manufacturing and Management (IFF, Stuttgart University) and the Graduate School of Excellence for advanced Manufacturing Engineering (GSaME, Stuttgart University). It consists of a "Reference Model for Factory Life Cycles" and a "Reference Model for Factory Data Management," and is supplemented with digital tools for modelling, simulation, optimization and visualization of products, factories and processes. For networking and distribution of data, models, tools and computer resources, the "Digital Factory" employs state-of-the-art integration technologies, such as grid and cloud technologies. The "Grid Engineering for Manufacturing Lab - GEMLab" is the state-of-the-art IT environment for integration and distribution of data, models, engineering tools, simulation applications and computing resources based on Grid Technologies. To learn more, please click here.