Change a Running System!

Interview with
Andreas Huhmann, Board Member Smart FactoryKL
Interview with
Prof. Dr. Martin Ruskowski, Chairman of the Board Smart FactoryKL
Interview with
Teresa Petzsche, Research Associate in the field of sustainable production networks, Smart FactoryKL
Interview with
Dr. Ingo Herbst, Head of Communication, Smart FactoryKL

The production of the future must be ecologically sustainable. In a conversation with representatives of Smart FactoryKL , gets to the bottom of the question: What steps and technology are necessary to achieve this goal? What do you think the production of the future will look like in 2050?

Andreas Huhmann: First of all, we have to state: Any future production is sustainable. We can no longer afford unsustainable production! Sustainability is not a partial aspect of digitalisation, but stands above everything!

Teresa Petzsche:Petzsche: I imagine the year 2050 in such a way that the production of the future will consume no or very few new raw materials and materials. We will then have changed our system in such a way that when we use resources, we manage to keep them constantly in circulation in order to produce as little waste as possible. We use digital tools to do this. However, not to make products faster, better, more beautiful, but much more to ensure environmental sustainability.

Martin Ruskowski: My picture is that in terms of resources, we will manage to eventually recycle everything that has been recyclable so far. Likewise, we will use materials that are also recyclable and whose use will also be cheaper. But in the future it will go beyond recycling and re-use. It will be common practice to take back products and re-integrate parts of them into new products. But we will also be able to build up energy supplies from sustainable sources and learn within production to react flexibly to their fluctuating supply and use them in a targeted manner. Furthermore, in 2050 I expect that the technological foundations have been laid and that we have derived and implemented the right measures in the regulatory area, which are also the most favourable from an economic point of view under these boundary conditions. I see three main points in the future: Logistics - not only in terms of resilience, but also in terms of reducing transport distances. Secondly: the topic of energy consumption and finally thirdly: the topic of recycling/re-use.

Ingo Herbst:I believe that it is important that companies and the whole economy come to a long-term thinking, that they approach a completely different planning vision. That short hypes with short profit cycles are a thing of the past and that we also think about joint production in the long term - in the sense of "shared production" In 2050, we have common standards that benefit everyone. In the long term, we will also have to come to a realistic pricing of all raw materials and all environmental impacts of products, so that we can see what our products are worth in the long term. With the help of the Digital Twin, we are able to make the product carbon footprint and
the use of materials visible. What must follow this transparency?

Martin Ruskowski: The Smart FactoryKL team and I are all about driving the overall transformation globally. The last industrial revolutions aimed at efficiency and saving labour on the shop floor. It always paid off quickly and that is why the technologies were introduced. The special thing about the 4. Industrial Revolution, however, is that we really have to think long-term in order to still be able to produce and live at all. To achieve this, we need to be resource-efficient and rely on renewable energies. We are currently realising that the costs of the lack of sustainability are catching up with us and exceeding the product costs. What specific sustainable production projects are you currently working on?

Martin Ruskowski: We are currently very concerned with energy recording via the management shell, which gives us transparency about real consumption data and thus enables us to optimise the processes in our modular smart factory from the perspective of environmental sustainability.

Teresa Petzsche: Basically, the topic of data offers a great opportunity. In order to not only collect data, but also to put it into perspective and draw conclusions, we use the "life cycle file" based on the management shell. We collect data in production, in design, over the use phase and share it with
several stakeholders involved. In this way, we can then draw conclusions regarding various R-strategies such as re-use, re-manufacturing and recycling. We create a system like this to link data to a product and to collect and feed it in where it is visible to everyone. Looking at the entire product life cycle, we ask ourselves the question: How can you design the product so that it can be used for as long as possible? That used materials can be reused directly or that the products are durable? We have to do the right thing in the future and not just something less bad! For this, it is necessary to look at the whole system, to transfer it for research and the whole economic system - otherwise we will not reach our goal. You illustrate your production of the future on the Production Level-4 Demonstrator you
have developed. How does your practical example work?

Teresa Petzsche: We are currently working on a new production module to demonstrate a re-use case. Our plant produces toy trucks. As soon as these small trucks come back to us after the usage phase, they are first checked for faults using AI. Quality control determines the extent to which vehicle parts can be returned to use and collected in the re-use warehouse. If a customer now orders a new product, he can choose from various parts - and thus, for example, decide on the driver´s cab as a re-use product. At the same time, he sees how much material and CO2 he has saved as a result. Our circular use case in conjunction with the administrative shell shows: It is possible to make data available and include it in the ordering process. Describe your concept of a "Shared Production".

Martin Ruskowski: By "shared production" we mean: thinking beyond company boundaries, working together, supporting each other. In this way, the sharing of data and technologies is consistently thought through further - naturally under competition guidelines. The aim is to make product data available so that one´s own products can also be recycled by others. Passing on digital images needs to move into the whole economic cycle, because so far digital twins are still a free, expected add-on value.

Ingo Herbst: The core idea of our "Shared Production" is comparable to that of car sharing in cities. Via data rooms, we are able to network machines and use them from different producers. A machine at location XY can therefore be utilised to the maximum - not only by the owner himself, but also by external users. This means a win-win situation: maximum utilisation of a machine. Shared production" must therefore go hand in hand with the idea of a "sharing economy".

Andreas Huhmann: Likewise, "shared production" also means decentralisation and reduction of logistics. Decentralised value chains can be set up and linked up close to customers and individual process steps in such a way that logistics can also be optimised. Has Industry 4.0 triggered a paradigm shift with regard to sustainability?

Andreas Huhmann: Absolutely! In the past, the motto was: "Never change a running system! This must no longer apply in the future. Rather, it should read: "Change a running system!" Because we have the possibility not only to change a "running system" in principle - we can even optimise it from an ecological sustainability point of view in the process.

Martin Ruskowski: Our goal is sustainable production, but this will only last in the future if ecological follow-up costs are included in the production costs. Under this premise, we as Smart FactoryKL deliver the most economical production and show with our demonstrator ecosystem how optimal production can function not only ecologically but also economically.