Article submitted by Marian Süße – Head of Department Factory System Design and Production Planning at Fraunhofer IWU
- Tell us about Fraunhofer IWU, what is your core business and role within the project?
The Fraunhofer Institute for Machine Tools and Forming Technology IWU is part of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft and leading research institute for resource-efficient production. We tap the new potential for competitive manufacturing in automotive and mechanical engineering, aerospace technology, medical engineering, electrical engineering, and precision and micro engineering. We focus on scientific developments and contract research concerning components, processes, methods, and the associated complex machine systems – the entire factory.
In ECOFACT we focus on the development of material flow simulation models and optimization algorithms for production planning and scheduling, focussing on the Arcelik and Tofas use cases. Our ”E3 Research Factory Resource-Efficient Production” serves as a testbed for TRL6-validation of results and components that are developed by other ECOFACT-partners.
- Why did your organisation get involved in the ECOFACT project? How does this activity fit with the normal business of your organisation?
We got involved since we believe that many current ecological and environmental challenges need to be addressed on an international level. Thus, besides a large variety of projects in Germany and Saxony we try to contribute to the reduction of environmental impacts of the industry in Europe. At the same time, we can extend our knowledge since we need to deal with further requirements from different countries.
- How will the outputs of the ECOFACT project help production system energy performance?
The material flow simulation will help to identify power peaks or the amount of product-embodied energy, taking different scenarios and uncertainty into account. Therefore, we could say that this allows us to test the general behaviour of the production system virtually. The corresponding optimization algorithms support multidimensional planning of scheduling procedures. So e.g. for the Tofas use case we develop an algorithm that aims for the minimization of colour changes and therefore reduces energy losses of setup-times.
- What are the technical challenges your work in ECOFACT is trying to overcome?
A general challenge is the elaboration and acquisition of appropriate data. This is on the one hand necessary to understand the specific processes of the demo partners and on the other hand to build up accurate optimization models and simulation models. Besides that optimization in production planning and scheduling can quite rapidly become very complex, which is caused by manifold targets and restrictions that have to be considered.
- What positive impacts will the projects have when complete?
Referring to the environmental impacts it will contribute to the emission of greenhouse gases and further ecological damage that is e.g. caused by paint waste. Moreover, the algorithms and models may provide a blueprint for simulation and optimization of discrete manufacturing systems, improving system performance and energy consumption in a combined approach.
View our other partner Q&A’s here.