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.
Prof. Dr.-Ing. Sascha Röck (Project spokesman)