Software-defined Manufacturing for the vehicle and supplier industry
The challenge in the vehicle and supplier industry today is to produce economically despite highly volatile markets and under dynamic conditions. The decisive competitive factor here is the adaptability of production systems. In order to achieve maximum adaptability, a strict separation must be created between the hardware of the production systems and the controlling software. The SDM4FZI project therefore deals with the new method: software-defined manufacturing (SDM). Analogous to solutions from information and communication technology, non-predefined functions are also to be realised by automatically generated software. The basic prerequisite is the abstraction of the existing hardware through digital twins with the help of which the software can be automatically derived and distributed. For this purpose, the existing production OT (Operational Technology) must be rethought in order to make the control and communication infrastructure SDM-capable. SDM creates the basis for innovative applications and business models that use digital twins as their core to optimise adaptable production systems.
SDM Reference architecture model
Digital twins are the key element for the SDM concept. They describe products, processes and production systems by means of data, information and behavioural models that arise and accrue over the entire machine or product life cycle. A uniform blueprint (reference architecture) ensures interoperability between the digital twins across the entire supply chain. They enable a multitude of applications and innovative business models, e.g. automatic software generation.
The second essential building block for implementing SDM is a production OT that makes it possible to distribute automatically generated software in real time and interoperably to the production systems (real-time deployment). For this, the method of virtualisation is used to separate software and hardware through an abstraction layer. This requires a completely new infrastructure with open control architectures and continuous communication from sensor to cloud.
By marrying the reference architecture model with the SDM-capable production OT, enormous potentials arise with regard to the mutability of production. In order to exploit these in the best possible way, strategies are being researched to optimally and dynamically adapt the adaptable SDM factory to the uncertain developments on the market and in the entire corporate environment.
Questions and answers
The goal of SDM4FZI is to make the factories of the vehicle and supplier industry more adaptable. The solution approach is to define production purely via software and thus make it dynamically adaptable.
SDM4FZI is specially tailored to the vehicle and supplier industry, but is basically interesting for all industries that manufacture in production facilities. There are no restrictions with regard to the size of the company. SDM increases the adaptability of the productions of small companies, medium-sized businesses up to large corporations.
A core element of the SDM method are digital twins for products, processes and production systems. These are not per se compatible with each other. To ensure interoperability, a standardised blueprint is required: the reference architecture model.