HANNOVER MESSE exhibits virtual factory of the future | Automation.com

HANNOVER MESSE exhibits virtual factory of the future

March 5, 2013 - One visitor magnet at this year’s HANNOVER MESSE might be the virtual factory of the future at the Fraunhofer Society stand in Research & Technology in Hall 2. Tomorrow’s factory becomes a reality with a tour by a 3D web presenter. Visitors can learn about the “Green Carbody Technologies – InnoCaT” Innovation Alliance supported by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) from this flagship virtual factory. The Alliance has set itself the goal of significantly improving the resource and energy consumption of the entire manufacturing process, and of organizing it to be more easily planned and monitored, using the automotive bodyshop as an example. 

“Visitors to the flagship factory get an overview of the entire structure as well as the processes, machines and systems that the Alliance has been researching over the past three years,” explains Dr. Matthias Putz, Executive Coordinator of the Innovation Alliance and Vice President at the Fraunhofer Institute for Machine Tools and Forming Technology (IWU) in Chemnitz. 
 
The virtual environment is based on an automotive plant. Numerous potential resource and energy savings are demonstrated in the tool-shop, press-shop, vehicle body-shop or paint-shop. The 3D web presenter is one of the highlights at the Fraunhofer pavilion (D18 in Hall 2). 
 
InnoCaT is an example of the intensive networking of trade fairs at HANNOVER MESSE. Companies such as Siemens, Phoenix, Rittal, Kuka, Volkswagen and Lütze are presenting additional InnoCaT4 results at their own stands in the Industrial Automation section of the fair. 
 
Four core tasks for the factory of the future 
The factory of the future will function with spontaneously networked and real-time-capable software. This has major consequences on how value creation is structured and achieved. “Therefore, all efforts must be directed towards keeping and strengthening manufacturing and value creation in Germany,” declares Dr. Olaf Sauer of the Automation unit of the Fraunhofer Institute for Optronics, System Technologies and Image Exploitation (IOSB) in Karlsruhe. 
 
According to a study by the Ifo Institute for the European Commission, additional product-related services enhance the overall competitiveness of German mechanical and facilities engineering. The key to such support services is information and communication technologies (ICT), which are gaining ever more ground in traditional mechanical and facilities engineering. Sauer identifies four challenges in particular that must be addressed: interoperability, data complexity, user-focus and security. 
 
Simultaneous translation needed for modern production facilities 
In highly complex manufacturing processes, the various “players” need a kind of simultaneous translator for their different data formats, to be able to work together. Manufacturing IT systems and sensors generate huge volumes of data. The need for automated recognition of anomalies, wear and flaws is growing with the increasing complexity of modern manufacturing facilities. 
 
Additionally, users all need information tailored to their own specific tasks. Intelligent data fusion, filtering and decision support are the foundation for this. Sensitive data must also be protected as quickly as possible from attempts to intercept and manipulate it, calling for mechanisms such as encryption, data signing and authentication. IOSB exhibits helpful solutions at Research & Technology in Hall 2 with a demonstrator designed to showcase “secure plug & work” concepts. 
 
Gesture recognition techniques for BMW Group 
Quality assurance for process chains is crucial for production companies – only in this way can problems be identified quickly and additional costs reduced. IOSB researchers have a particularly efficient approach: Flaws in body parts detected by quality control (such as during painting) can be recorded and documented in the system simply by pointing at them. The non-contact gesture recognition process is also presented in Hall 2 (Stand D18). 
 
The user receives visual feedback from the entry on a monitor displaying a 3D reconstruction of the bumper. What looks futuristic at first glance might soon be part of everyday quality control. The process was developed under contract with BMW Group, and should replace time-consuming testing procedures in the future. 
 
“Until now testers have to note all detected flaws, leave their work station to go to the computer terminal, navigate several screens and then enter the flaw location and type. This is laborious, time-consuming and prone to error,” says Alexander Schick, IOSB scientist. Gesture control significantly improves testers’ working conditions and saves time – employees can remain at their work station and interact directly with the testing object. “If the bumper is fine, they swipe across it from left to right. In case of a flaw, they point to its location,” explains Schick. 
 
Finding flaws with ease 
Touchless gesture recognition is based on 3D data, whereby the entire work station must first be reconstructed in 3D. This includes people as well as the object they are working with. “What the people look like, where they are, how they move, what they do, where the object is – all this information is needed to correctly link the pointing gesture to the bumper,” continues the IOSB expert. 
 
To enable gesture control, the specialists use 3D body tracking that detects the person’s body position in real time. The auto body component is also tracked. Hardware requirements are limited: A standard computer and two Microsoft Kinect systems – comprising a camera and 3D sensors – are enough to create the reconstruction. 
 
Schick and his team developed the corresponding algorithms, which merge several 2D and 3D images, specifically for this application, and adapted them to BMW Group’s requirements. The technology can be integrated into existing production systems with minimal difficulty. Personal data is not collected for this process. 
 
Various Fraunhofer Society innovations and exhibits at Research & Technology address the HANNOVER MESSE theme of Integrated Industry. Solutions for intelligent data processing in crisis management systems are also a subject of the Fraunhofer exhibit in Hall 2: early detection of impending damage in deep-sea drillings, a new broadband sensor system for monitoring drinking water quality, and a sensor network with mobile robots for disaster management, triggered by earthquakes, floods or industrial accidents. 
 
About HANNOVER MESSE (the Hannover Fair) 
The world’s leading showcase for industrial technology is staged annually in Hannover, Germany. The next HANNOVER MESSE will be held from 8 to 12 April 2013 and feature Russia as its official Partner Country. HANNOVER MESSE 2013 will comprise 11 flagship fairs: Industrial Automation - Motion, Drive & Automation (MDA) - Energy - Wind - MobiliTec - Digital Factory - ComVac - Industrial Supply - Surface Technology - IndustrialGreenTec - Research & Technology. The upcoming event will place a strong emphasis on industrial automation and IT, energy and environmental technologies, power transmission and control, industrial subcontracting, manufacturing technologies, services and R&D. 
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