Digital Factory 4.0

The starting position for Digital Factory 4.0 is a volatile market environment that leads to frequent updates in the basic conditions of the factory processes and factory resources. The digital factory lays a solid foundation for reacting quickly to these updates. Through new developments in the area of Industry 4.0 technologies, quite different possibilities now exist today, for example, with data availability. Digital Factory 4.0 utilizes these advanced potentials to create a dynamically reactive, yet still stable factory through the complete networking of the factory structures. According to each complexity, the regulation of the factory occurs through autonomous, “self-regulating” systems or through the human as an adaptive, flexible decision-maker. IFU focuses on the more flexible approach with the human decision-maker who, within a networked system, must possess the ability to understand the effects of their local action on the global overall system. Therefore, a special main focus lies on the methodical development of decision-making support systems (assistance systems) that have the goal of making clear to the employees on all hierarchal levels, from the company management up to the shop floor, the effects of their actions on the overall system. Through the insight into which effects the local action has on the global system, the advantages of the process orientation are realized within the company.

The significance of Digital Factory 4.0

The technologies of Industry 4.0 serve as a basis for the implementation of these assistance systems whereby through sensor technology and cyber-physical systems, visibility (“What is occurring?”) and transparency (“Why is it occurring?”) are facilitated in the production system by which the evaluation of decision alternatives is quantifiable. With the feedback of the operational data in the planning and the planning data in the operation, the digital shadow can be generated. At the same time, it concerns a dynamic, real-time capable image of the production that makes need-based information available. This digital shadow must be fortified with other data and simulations in order to utilize the data from the existing factory for the planning of future factory systems. This realistic model fortified with other data is referred to as a digital twin. It connects reality and virtuality and creates transparency in complicated processes. Due to their methodical strength in the meaningful selection and aggregation of existing information, assistance systems are suitable for illustrating to the employee the active correlations in the production system using the digital twin. From this, a continuous, consistent and completely safeguarded virtual planning basis throughout the entire factory lifecycle originates.

Development toward Digital Factory 4.0

Digital Factory 4.0 concerns a network of digital models and methods for the integrated planning, realization, control and ongoing improvement of all essential factory processes and factory resources in connection with the product within Lean Enterprise 4.0. Digital Factory 4.0 is based on the foundations of the traditional digital factory. This is fortified with the potentials of Industry 4.0 that allow for a high transparency within the production systems. The concept of Digital Factory 4.0 is based on an integrated planning approach for vertically and horizontally networked factory structures throughout the entire lifecycle of all factory layers from the outer shell through to the technical building infrastructure and up to the individual technologies. In addition, potentials spanning the entire value added system are also incorporated. Various potentials particularly result from the close interlocking and desegregation of the factory planning and factory processes from which a comprehensive network between product origin and production systems as well as distribution and service systems and a continuous improvement of the factory structures arise. Digital Factory 4.0 represents the starting point for the purposeful arrangement and continuous improvement of Lean Enterprise 4.0.

The benefits of Digital Factory 4.0

The added value of Digital Factory 4.0 for planners and decision-makers is the improved and innovative digital assistance systems available throughout the entire factory lifecycle – a clear and purposeful support on the basis of more networked, integrated and current information. This information base supports all involved in the planning along the entire factory lifecycle. With the help of these Digital Factory 4.0 assistance systems, factory and production structures can be planned in a targeted and standardized manner. Planning errors, for example, through false acceptances and the violation of legal restrictions, can be identified in a very early planning phase and be corrected before the implementation. This results a significant shortening of the necessary planning time and in an increase in the planning quality in which the consequences of the decisions made on the entire lifecycle of a factory become clear. This transparency exists in the human, organizational and technical area. Thus, with Digital Factory 4.0, in addition to the consideration of pure lifecycle costs, further evaluations of the factory, for example, in the field of sustainability or ergonomics, can also be conducted.