Nearly all industries and companies in the manufacturing sector in Hesse are confronted daily with the dynamic developments of digitization in the production environment and their issues in connecting to modern IT infrastructures and the feasibility of new, digital business models. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in particular are often overwhelmed by the need to keep up with and implement developments in the field of digitization, as they usually do not have the necessary expertise in-house.
The key to competitive production environments lies in end-to-end digitization and thus in data-driven production, which is characterized by the interlinking of the areas of production process, IT platform and digital services. The major hurdle facing SMEs in particular is the rapid and robust implementation of new, digital technologies.
The aim of the dataPro platform project is to establish a digital and physical environment, unique in Germany, for the transfer of knowledge of research results and development trends in the future field of data-driven production. The focus is on dovetailing the pillars of process, platform and service. The emerging lighthouse spans four locations (research labs and learning factories) of the Institute for Production Management, Technology and Machine Tools (PTW) and the Department of Data Processing in Design (DiK) at Darmstadt University of Technology (TUDa).
In platform dataPro, research results that currently exist in the form of individual solutions and industrial best-practice developments are dovetailed into a continuous process chain and merged into an open digital platform based on industry standards. Based on the production of a customer-specific product on standard industrial manufacturing machines, innovations in data-driven production can be efficiently experienced by visitors and workshop participants in a form established at PTW and DiK. By networking the locally separated learning and laboratory environments, current methods of IT security, cloud computing, edge computing and digital twins are presented, taking into account uniform communication standards. Furthermore, knowledge about state-of-the-art sensor and vision systems, innovative process monitoring as well as grey-box and AI-based analyses will be transferred. In addition, new digital business models (so-called as-a-service models) will be integrated into the platform. By transferring the triad of process, platform and service, companies can experience incentives to increase competition, research institutions can receive impetus for new development activities and students can gain an early insight into future production environments.
In the course of the project, the specific needs of the companies will first be examined so that workshops adapted to Hessian SMEs can be developed. Subsequently, existing demonstrators will be further developed into a continuous process chain. In addition, a guideline will be created which enables the development of virtual action tasks for different target groups, training formats and learning contents, taking into account media-didactic aspects. The developed procedure will first be implemented in the learning factories and test fields at the Technical University of Darmstadt (TUDa) using the example of an existing training course and then tested and further developed together with several partner companies. The learning success will be measured during the training and subsequently in the participating companies on site. Finally, the procedure will be extended for application to other training formats to ensure broad applicability beyond learning factories and disseminated via the partner network, among others.
This project is funded by the Hessian State Chancellery – Minister for Digital Strategy and Development (funding line Distr@l: Strengthen Digitization – Live Transfer). We thank for the opportunity to work on this project.