By Arkadius Schier | Fraunhofer IML – The research and application centres form two testing grounds which, due to their full-scale digitization (»100% digitised factory but not empty of people«) can, for the first time, comprehensively explore, evaluate and further develop innovations for hybrid services and man-machine-interaction in practise-oriented industrial applications.
Our testing grounds serve as reference systems to measure the quality of technology innovations, control algorithms or ERP systems and evaluate them in long-term tests.
In the context of the Innovationlab, two different locations will be realised for practical testing: a research centre and an application centre. In both halls the entire intralogistic supply chain is represented with a focus on work in the future. Application-related demonstrators enable cross-process solutions and innovations to be tested on »living objects«. Both testing grounds serve as reference systems to measure the quality of technology innovations, control algorithms or ERP systems and evaluate them in long-term tests. This enables companies in transfer projects not only to further develop their own innovations but also to evaluate other technologies with benchmarks and check their eligibility for industrial service.
The research centre serves the experimental – fundamental – testing of new methods and technologies. Equipped with a variety of freely configurable and flexibly adaptable trial equipment, it serves the initial and experimental testing and evaluation of technical feasibility. It contains hardly any fixed test rigs. A wide range of autonomous stakeholders come together ad hoc in temporary units to provide logistic services. Man-machine-interaction and the interface between manual and digital processes play a significant role here. The layout concept for the hall is planned as a three-dimensional space, which means all measuring installations and other systems have been selected and planned for this purpose. It will be possible to investigate a large number of different factors at the same time (for example people on the ground, drones in the air, robotic vehicles and Internet of Things devices in between).
In contrast to this, the application centre focuses on the real, practical demonstration of new methods and technologies in the context of a Living Lab. The knowledge gained in the research centre is adopted step by step in the application centre and demonstrated as part of operational processes. The focus lies on integrating the human element, and to connect it more intensively with both the physical and the digital world.
Our dynamic, modular concept means existing demonstrators can be exchanged quickly with new technological solutions.
Example from the control centre: The Supervisory Control Centre is composed of both monitoring and assistance systems that act as a man-machine interface to filter and process information for the users. In this way, people are able to intervene in the automated, autonomous processes in exceptional situations or when there are breakdowns via both central and decentral devices. Moreover, the Supervisory Control Centre offers the possibility of anticipative planning by amalgamating all information relevant for planning and control. Linking forecasting techniques to methods of simulation enables people to evaluate planned measures according to the situation even before they are initiated. The Supervisory Control Centre supports him/her in making both operative and strategic decisions. By means of mobile devices the Supervisory Control Centre is not only accessible for users on the entire shop floor but also for administrators outside the warehouse. Different devices can be used individually to depict the information according to informational stress types (e.g. coaster, smartglasses, tablet, smartwatch).
The research and application centres can be flexibly adapted for various testing scenarios at any time. The dynamic, modular concept means existing demonstrators can be exchanged quickly with new technological solutions.
About the author
Arkadius Schier, scientific employee at the Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics IML, is Head of the Innovationlab Hybrid Services in Logistics project.