The Faculty of Mechanical Engineering is actively engaged in the transfer initiative which goes by the name of HAW Transfer Platform Industry 4.0, which is funded by the state of Baden-Württemberg.
This platform is particularly intended to make it easier for small and medium-sized enterprises to gain access to the topics relating to Industry 4.0. The universities of applied sciences in Aalen, Esslingen and Reutlingen have teamed up with the Steinbeis Foundation to actively take up the challenges in research, teaching and advanced training to support the small and medium-sized enterprises, or SMEs.
Doctoral theses on topics concerning “Smart Factory Data and Simulation” in the context of Industry 4.0 are supervised in the Virtual Automation Lab of the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering. The work is undertaken as part of the PROMISE 4.0 collaborative doctoral programmes.
The faculty’s in-house research laboratory aims to tackle mechanical engineering topics relating to Industry 4.0 which are of great practical relevance. To this end, doctoral theses are undertaken (for example as part of the PROMISE 4.0 collaborative doctoral programme) in the laboratory which consider issues regarding the development and implementability of Industry 4.0 technologies, especially for small and medium-sized enterprises. The projects are tackled in close collaboration with industrial enterprises to ensure that the research transfer (for example as part of the HAW transfer platform Industry 4.0) is as efficient as possible.
Now that the Mechanical Engineering Faculty has successfully set up a new research laboratory called Virtual Automation Lab (VAL) as part of the ”Transfer platform BW Industry 4.0” transfer initiative, the portfolio is being expanded with the Smart Factory test environment. To this end, manufacturing and assembly processes are being equipped with modern technologies. These include physical assistance systems such as cooperative und mobile robots, as well as virtual assistance systems such as the digital twin and Augmented und Mixed Reality environments. Individual machine tools (5-axis machining centre, servo press) from the Metal Forming and Machining Laboratory (LUZ) are to be integrated into the Smart Factory. They are to be physically networked with each other via flexible handling equipment such as mobile robots (driverless transport systems, UAVs), for example. Digital networking across all stations of the Smart Factory is to be realised via an Edge Cloud platform which already exists at VAL. This platform already allows the simple networking of machines via OPC UA and the visualisation of the data via mobile terminals and smart glasses. An Industry 4.0 control panel for the whole Smart Factory is to be set up on this basis with modern cloud and service-based methods.
The aim is for students at Esslingen University of Applied Sciences to come into contact with modern technologies at an early stage and introduce the know-how they gain from this into the companies. Industrial companies should also benefit from this and be offered the opportunity to try out new technologies in a professional environment. The Mechanical Engineering Faculty wants to facilitate and expand an interdisciplinary collaboration on the issue of Industry 4.0 with other faculties. The Smart Factory test environment will be set up over the next 4 years (Jan. 2019 – Dec. 2022). The project is funded with strategy funds of Esslingen University of Applied Sciences and from budgetary resources of the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering.
Hardly any other occupational profile has changed with such dynamism in recent decades as that of technical specialists: In the 1980s, the introduction of factory automation triggered completely new disciplines and subsequently made new job profiles necessary. Today, with the shift towards the "Smart Factory", similar challenges face us as automation and digital networking of machines continue to increase. In particular, this development will also change the requirements for training concepts.
In order to meet these new requirements for the training of technical specialists, training using Mixed Reality in the Loop Simulation (MRiLS) is being researched as part of this project, which is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research Germany. The simulation model used for this purpose will be connected to the real control hardware, thus making it possible for the first time for technical specialists to work with the real control technology and to experience the reaction of the virtual production plant almost live. The use of modern visualization methods such as Augmented Reality Glasses and Virtual Reality Glasses allows an multiplication of the immersive and realistic virtual image of the real plant, so that the learners can learn cooperatively and across locations. In addition, the use of MRiLS, in contrast to training on the real plant, enables a reproducible representation of hazard scenarios in the virtual world and thus the risk-free practice of behavior in these exceptional situations. The researched methods are tested and evaluated in vocational and operational training as well as in higher education. The task of the project partner University of Applied Sciences Esslingen is to research the mixed reality simulation models and to synchronize several training participants in a common virtual environment.
Project duration: 02/2020 - 01/2023
Supported by: Federal Ministry of Education and Research Germany (BMBF)
Project volume: € 1.83 million (thereof 76% BMBF funding)
ISW, University of Stuttgart
University of Bamberg
Virtual Automation Lab (VAL), University of Applied Sciences Esslingen