Coherently, all the components below generate an infrastructure for the realisation of the ecosystem around a demonstration platform, which we determined to be a determining factor for Danish research to push Industry 4.0 principles into the Danish manufacturing industry, hence improve competitiveness and enable bringing production back. In the long run, this also ensures that developed jobs will not be outsourced.
Hyper-flexible cell-based structureThe cells will primarily consist of collaborative robot stations that use SDU’s strength position in reconfigurable robots, which focus on flexible, adaptive collaborative robot cells. The research area within mobile robots will among other be strengthened within localisation algorithms (e.g. 3D Slam), perception, collision avoidance, and collaboration protocols seeking to raise the degree of autonomy and adaption.
Soft roboticsSoft robotics is one of the more recent branches within robotics, giving robots new qualities. Both in terms of the robots’ handling of subjects in production, where stiff objects within robotics can be limited and challenged in terms of handling soft and fragile subjects. Smart and active material, along with additive manufacturing (3D print), is another important component in soft robotics, e.g. through flexible and ultrathin active foils.
Software and digitalization
Fundamentally, Industry 4.0 is about digitalization of product systems, which make Software and data science vital aspects of Industry 4.0.
Concurrently with the increasing demand for a flexible and varied production, is the consequence of a severe increase in complexity of the software which controls the production. If a production plant is centrally controlled and a fully horizontal and vertical integration with all the other systems is still preferred, the programming border on the impossible, and the robustness towards changes is poor. Therefore, the entities in production ought to be controlled by decentral autonomous decision-logic – the software paradigm for this is called multi-agent systems, which originates from distributed artificial intelligence.
A typical production and logistics system will, along with the agent paradigm, be modelled so the decision-makers act as agents in the system. This can for example be operators on simple machines, mobile robots, automation technology, robot cells, cell-controllers, PLC-operations or similar. With the agent paradigm, these entities will be able to act autonomously, coordinate and collaborate on tasks with other agents. This makes it possible to optimize the decision-making processes, significantly raise robustness and reliability and thereby also stability and operational reliability in complex, heterogenous systems, which can easily reach a level of complexity in traditional centralized controls, which affects the system’s overall performance
Simulation and emulation
Industry 4.0 introduces augmented and virtual reality, which allows new possibilities in both the design process of individual products but also in the construction and validation of the entire production system, including the operator’s interaction with the system through computer made information and graphic in operations and maintenance tasks. Therefore, as part of the infrastructure, there will be built facilities to work with augmented reality, partly directly in the production and design phase, but also in virtual reality where planned systems can be validated and inspected and operators can be trained so that the uptime is maximized.