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The SmartFactoryKL technology initiative, located at the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI) in Kaiserslautern, is the first European vendor independent demonstration factory for the industrial application of state-of-the-art information and communication technologies.
The venture has the purpose of supporting the development, application and propagation of innovative automation technologies in different sectors as well as providing a basis for their extensive usage in science and industry.
Founded in 2005, the SmartFactoryKL initiative is a successful example of public-private-partnership; being a cooperative venture between vendors and users (manufacturers) of modern automation technologies as well as representatives of public interests. The common projects range from fundamental work on basic technologies to the development of marketable products. Members, sponsors and promoters create a living partnership in order to realize the vision of a future industrial landscape with modern and innovative means.
SmartFactoryKL works as a pioneer for the technology transfer of key aspects of INDUSTRIE 4.0 into practice. By operating several modular pilot plants, both state-of-the-art technologies and cutting-edge research results can be implemented and evaluated. Within these plants, the key aspects of INDUSTRIE 4.0 are demonstrated in an intuitive and accessible way.
The central research and demonstration platform of the SmartFactoryKL is its hybrid demonstration plant which can produce a customized product (soap bottles) in the batch size 1 to customer specification. Terms of requirements, structure and complexity of the laboratory system with industrial production in practice is absolutely comparable. Functional electrical components (i.e. controllers, sensors, actuators) from different vendors are flexibly networked. Communication systems operate wirelessly, both within the system as well as for overall control levels.
The mobile production line showcases the flexible production of an exemplary product whose components (i.e. case cover, case base, printed circuit board) are handled, mechanically machined, and assembled. The product is able to control its own production process as it has all of the necessary information available in its digital product memory stored on an RFID tag. The process is not controlled by a standard programmable logic controller (PLC), but by a service-oriented, decentralized control system consisting of distributed microcontrollers communicating using Internet standards. Human workers are supported with innovative mobile device and augmented reality-based assistance systems.