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Hannover Messe 2016

Research today: Why Industry 4.0 is for SMEs, too...

| Author / Editor: Barbara Schulz / Barbara Schulz

Hannover Messe 2016 is the global hotspot for Industry 4.0 solutions.
Hannover Messe 2016 is the global hotspot for Industry 4.0 solutions. (Source: Hannover Messe)

Industry 4.0 remains a hot topic – above all at Hannover Messe, where the Fraunhofer Institute for Production Systems and Design Technology (Fraunhofer IPK) will present its solutions for the factory of the future. The world's leading show for industrial technology runs from 25 to 29 April 2016.

The Fraunhofer Institute for Production Systems and Design Technology (Fraunhofer IPK) will present its solution for the factory of the future. “We envision a manufacturing organisation which has no rigid plans or fixed processes, one where human coordination and decision-making capabilities play a central role in flow control,” explains Eckhard Hohwieler, head of production machinery and plant management at Fraunhofer IPK.

Industry 4.0 is not equal to factories devoid of humans

One of Fraunhofer IPK’s key aims is to win the confidence of the SMEs for whom Industry 4.0 still generates images of factories devoid of humans. “A common misconception is that Industry 4.0 is about using IT to automate production to the point where human input becomes redundant,” says Hohwieler. The researchers at Fraunhofer IPK have a different plan: They believe that, although sophisticated tools inform his decision-making, the human worker in Factory 4.0 ultimately decides which production sequence to use. This approach decentralises production control, with each worker assuming responsibility and contributing to more flexible production processes and product individualization. IT-based tools ensure that workers at all organizational levels constantly receive the information they need to produce the end-product on schedule – from process management to production planning to final assembly.

The corresponding scenario that Fraunhofer IPK and various partners will present in Hall 17 (Stand C18) is an example of gear-wheel production with five fields of activity. Station 1 is the model-based Industry Cockpit that provides an overview of complex administrative and production processes so that they can be customised to fit individual orders, the researchers say. The cockpit continuously delivers a precise overview of the entire operation, including all processes and the status of the production machinery and the supplier network. All actors – machine operators, shift supervisors, salespeople, and managers – receive real-time information about all aspects of production relevant to their tasks.

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