Background to the research project

Those who want to survive in competition in times of digitalization must react to changes at short notice and thus have a high degree of flexibility and reaction speed in production. Central planning and control of production often proves to be too sluggish to keep up with changing market requirements. Volume fluctuations and individual customer requirements result in the need to shift decisions on different product groups to independent, locally controlled process chains. Technologies such as RFID for the identification of objects and manufacturing execution systems (MES) for the decentralized control of production and assembly equipment are certainly available. However, they are not yet widely used to the extent that they could help increase efficiency and profitability in manufacturing and assembly. Without adaptation of the process environment and connections, there is little potential for optimization. It is often difficult to prove the economic viability for the respective application. Small and medium-sized companies in particular cannot easily do this on their own. They need the possibility of quickly and cost-effectively obtaining reliable statements on the economic viability of technologies and production strategies for precisely their situation on the shop floor. This is where the LUPO research project comes in.

The LUPO research project

In order to be able to demonstrate the economic viability of technologies and production strategies, LUPO is developing a hybrid simulator that combines simulation-based testing of decision alternatives with physical demonstrators. The development of the LUPO simulation environment is the basis for all subsequent subprojects. The simulation environment consists of a mixture between computational and physical models. The main components consist of workpiece and machine tool simulator as well as a transport line. The physical demonstrator consists of a box containing a minicomputer, communication and interface hardware, and integrated screens to visualize the state and current parameters. This hybrid simulation is designed to help manufacturing planners get an approximate real-world idea of process changes without actually disrupting the real production process.

The goal of LUPO

The goal of LUPO is to provide a rapid and informed evaluation of production processes in terms of the benefits of decentralized production control using autonomous technologies. The hybrid simulator developed is intended to combine the advantages of a computer-based simulation with a model factory. With the help of the simulator, promising technologies as well as alternative strategies and measures can be quickly tested for their applicability and economic efficiency before they are implemented in the real production environment.

Application of LUPO in practice

After the end of the project, LUPO will be offered as a service at the Industry 4.0 Research and Application Center to help companies decide whether Industry 4.0 applications could be useful for their own production and logistics processes. Above all, manufacturing companies (SMEs) are among the potential customers. The aim is to improve competitiveness through process analysis and optimization. In addition, a cost reduction in the current production is to be supported among other things by the modernization.

Advantages of LUPO

PreviouslyWith LUPO
Production reality is not reflected by pure PC simulation Consideration of further reality-relevant aspects of the production by combination of objective and PC-supported simulation
Elaborate tests during production start-ups and thus high investment costs and delays Cost-effective tests for production start-ups as well as their benefit evaluation, without causing disruptions to real production
Central production control and planning with complex IT infrastructures Reduction of complexity through decentralized production control and planning as well as increase of process and system stability; thereby increase of simulation speed
Elaborate analyses and presentation of the benefits of autonomous technologies in productionRapid and structured determination of the benefits of autonomous technologies in production through the use of the hybrid simulation environment
Statements about the optimal degree of decentralized and centralized production control and planning only possible through complex and time-consuming analysisStatements on the optimal degree of decentralized and centralized production control and planning through the use of autonomous technologies within 12 days
Tests of promising technologies are expensive when tested in the real production environmentTesting of these technologies for applicability and economic viability before they are used in real production

Project partners, funding and data

The LUPO project, which is funded by the BMWi, is a joint project involving three small and medium-sized companies from the mechanical and plant engineering sector and a leading supplier of manufacturing management systems. In addition to the consortium, the project is supported by a committee consisting of six companies and other multipliers to promote public relations. Partners: Jordahl GmbH, MPDV Mikrolab GmbH, OHST Medizintechnik AG, OKE Automotive GmbH & Co. KG
Funding: 2010 - 2013