Smart Factory Grids | DFG Research Impulse Methodologies for a service-based highly flexible, dynamically distributed manufacturing with autonomous, adaptive and resilient systems

With the research impulse Smart Factory Grids funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG), Esslingen University establishes a permanent interdisciplinary research network that provides pioneering impulses, innovations, and insights for the transformation of the manufacturing industry, particularly at the industrial location Baden-Württemberg.

The research impulse pursues the vision of a dynamically distributed manufacturing in the future, consisting of several manufacturing facilities, each with specialized capabilities, to enable highly flexible manufacturing for small quantities with short setup times. The basis of this Smart Factory Grid is a network of novel autonomous adaptive cyber-physical systems that:

  • act autonomously, coordinate, and make decisions,
  • evaluate their own health status,
  • are resilient against IT disruptions and attacks,
  • enable highly flexible material flow,
  • flexibly manufacture complex components with a wide variety of variants through additive manufacturing.

Interdisciplinary Research Network

In the research initiative, the faculties of "Computer Science and Engineering" and "Mechanical and Systems Engineering" join forces in five research units, led by scientifically renowned professors:

  • Research Unit 1: Adaptive Control | Prof. Dr.-Ing. Sascha Röck | Faculty of Mechanical and Systems Engineering

    The research unit is located at the 'Virtual Automation Lab' research institute and focuses on optimizing the production process regarding various criteria, such as minimal production time with maximum energy efficiency. This involves automatic online capability assessment of all involved manufacturing systems, called Micro Manufacturing Units (MMUs), based on data, models, and methods with digital twins. Autonomous indoor UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) are being researched as a highly flexible transport system for executing the production process. Research questions on mixed reality-based assistance systems are also considered to support humans in the ever-changing production environment.

  • Research Unit 2: Autonomous Systems | Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Markus Enzweiler | Faculty of Computer Science and Engineering
    The research unit is located at the 'Institut für Intelligente Systeme' and researches the optimal collaboration of autonomous robots as a collective: from perception to action. Furthermore, the adaptation of learned skills to changing environments and tasks through efficient and continuous machine learning based on data collected in the distributed manufacturing of a Smart Factory Grid is being investigated.
  • Research Unit 3: System Health | Prof. Dr.-Ing. Peter Zeiler | Faculty of Mechanical and Systems Engineering
    The research unit is located at the 'Institute for Technical Reliability and Prognostics' and focuses on researching the "health status" of technical systems to prevent failures and downtimes and to enable predictive maintenance. Particular challenges include the variety of heterogeneous data, models, and information, as well as the highly flexible and dynamic manufacturing processes with high load variation.
  • Research Unit 4: Network Security | Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Tobias Heer  | Faculty of Computer Science and Engineering
    The research unit, connected to the 'IT Security Lab', researches novel IT security concepts since classical static and manual security approaches are no longer sufficient in the Smart Factory Grids environment. The focus is on identifying and modeling dependencies between services in complex manufacturing facilities, identifying vulnerabilities and their potential impacts, and investigating secure real-time communication systems in highly networked facilities.
  • Research Unit 5: Additive Manufacturing | Prof. Dr.-Ing. Lukas Löber  | Faculty of Mechanical and Systems Engineering
    The research unit, connected to the 'Materials Testing Laboratory', investigates research questions on the highly flexible manufacturing of complex and functionalized components in a Smart Factory Grid using additive manufacturing. Special research focuses are on the modularization and reconfigurability of additive manufacturing units and processes, as well as mobile additive manufacturing units.

A strong and sustainable cross-linking is achieved between the research units in the institutes and laboratories within the research initiative. Intensive collaboration enables the utilization of synergies between the individual research fields to achieve significant added value in research.


Speaker of the Research Impulse: Prof. Dr.-Ing. Sascha Röck

(Project-ID 528745080 - FIP 68)


Interested? Apply now! for the wintersemester 2024/2025