The CICS project on the “Potential, structure and interfaces of cloud-based industrial control services” was launched in 2014. The partners are the Düsseldorf-based Telelabor, a facility operated by the Competence Center Automation Düsseldorf (CCAD), and the Chair for Communication Systems at the University of Augsburg in cooperation with the Fraunhofer ESK in Munich. Also assisting in the project are Software Factory as well as other companies from the automation industry. The research project is funded by the BMWi (German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy) via the electronic engineering research association at ZVEI e.V.
The aim of CICS is to develop a reference architecture based on web technologies that is suitable for the realization of control programs in the form of control services (in accordance with standard IEC 61131). This comprises rapid, reliable and secure process data interfaces (web connectors) and the use of the web protocols HTTP2, WebSocket and WebRTC. The control services use available public and/or private cloud structures for the management and implementation of CICS. An additional variant that is being planned is to execute the control services on web clients (web browsers).
Among other things, the research results are making it possible to develop new, end-to-end, web-oriented control systems that can be adapted exceptionally flexibly and easily to meet application-specific requirements.
The aim of the APOLI research project is to ensure greater security in business processes in the age of Industry 4.0. Focus is placed on the application-friendly authentication and authorization of the persons and objects involved in IT-assisted business processes. Running until the end of 2017, this project will develop optimally automated authentication and authorization procedures for industry, commerce, banks and services.
To this end, the researchers and engineers are evaluating the potential of the new technological approaches that have been the subject of such intense discussion: SDN (software defined networking) and NFV (network functions virtualization). Within the project, the Fraunhofer ESK is responsible for evaluating SDN and NFV. As an expert in the field of Industry 4.0 and the development of customized, requirements-oriented software solutions, Software Factory GmbH is the project partner responsible for machine integration in the solution using SDN and NFV. In addition, Software Factory is contributing its technical and methodological expertise in the field of application lifecycle management (ALM) through the provision of an ALM platform. Another partner in the project is Otto Bihler Maschinenfabrik Gmbh & Co KG. This company is accompanying the APOLI development process, providing the test environment for the machine connections and performing practical remote maintenance tests.
ProMoA is a project devoted to process and model-based automatic system development. The aim of the ProMoA joint project is to develop new methods and IT tools for the automatic, product-based planning of new systems and the simulation-based examination of the suitability and conversion of legacy systems. This planning system is also intended to take account of the impact of product design changes on system configurations. This will permit the optimized and practically fully automated planning not only of completely new systems but also of required modifications to existing systems while simultaneously reducing the effort involved.
A number of other well-known companies are working together with Software Factory in the project. It is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and supported by the project sponsor Karlsruhe Research Center (PTKA).
Software Factory is working together closely with its project partners Beckhoff Automation and Fraunhofer AISEC in the “Sustain Grid” research project, which is funded by the Bavarian State Ministry for Economic Affairs and Media, Energy and Technology.
The aim of the project is to rise to the challenges of the energy transition, which will demand a power supply infrastructure that is fit for the future.
One problem of renewable energies is the very high level of supply volatility. Transmission capacities are playing an increasingly important role in preventing critical supply situations from arising. Modern power electronics could cushion such risks. However, this requires that the key players in the sector coordinate their activities. This makes it necessary to resolve the contradiction between the need for a comprehensive flow of information, on the one hand, and the protection of data and system security, on the other.
Standardized, secure communication within the network is one of the most important prerequisites for the implementation of a reliable smart grid. The object of research is the security and conformity of the grid elements. One aspect of the research assignment is to develop suitable testing tools that permit reliable, long-term system integration, to identify the existing gaps in the field of testing and to remedy these shortfalls in smart grids by developing suitable test tools for the areas of communication and IT security. The focal points in this endeavor are interoperability tests for control devices in accordance with IEC 61850, conformity tests of inverters for the integration of PV systems in the low-voltage grid, testing in the smart metering field, and penetration tests for IT security in the grid.
Modern manufacturing systems are becoming increasingly complex as a result of the growing demand for high productions rates with a consistently high level of quality and flexibility, i.e. the ability of production systems to adapt to constantly changing market requirements. Despite the high level of automation of machines and robots, human beings continue to be at the heart of the manufacturing workflow because it is they who monitor and supervise production. Human operators interact with machines and robots via human-machine interfaces (HMIs) that are unavoidably becoming more and more complex as new functions comprising many different operating modes and work instructions are implemented in production systems. In such scenarios, operators are confronted with many obstacles to efficient interaction with their machines. This is particularly true of middle-aged workers who feel ill at ease when interacting with complex computer systems, as well as of young, inexperienced or disabled individuals who are unable to operate this type of complex production system efficiently.
The aim of the INCLUSIVE project is to close the widening gap between machine complexity and the capabilities of users by developing an intelligent, innovative HMI that takes account of the user’s abilities and ensures the required flexibility by compensating for the operator’s limitations (e.g. resulting from age or lack of experience) while also taking advantage of their experience.
To achieve this, the developed HMI system must first be able to measure the cognitive load that is acceptable for the worker in question and their ability to cope with the automation tasks involved in interaction with the production system. It must also be able to adapt the automation functions and the volume of information in the production system to the measured capabilities of the user. In addition, the HMI must support less able users and train them appropriately to perform complex automation tasks. One way to achieve this is for the solution to include a virtual environment and an industrial social network.
The aim of the project is to ensure the highest possible level acceptance among workers by creating an inclusive working environment and to guarantee the productivity of new automated production systems. As part of this 36-month EU project, Software Factory is working closely together with 10 partners (universities and companies in the industrial and software development fields) throughout Europe.
Today, robots are usually used stationary, e.g. in production lines, due to the common construction of the robots. With research being done on mobile and team robotics, many more use-cases are possible in the future. Robots don’t have to be seen as replacement for human workers anymore then, but as partners, for instance as autonomously driving robots in factories.
Software Factory is part of the research group FORobotics, which focuses on this topic and researches ad-hoc cooperating teams of robots. The project is aiming for solutions on examplary tasks from production environments. These tasks are supposed to be solved by teams of human workers and robots as well as by cooperating teams of robots. As an effect of the cooperation, value-creating time is planned to be increased, e.g. by the robot’s ability to multitask. The aim of the project is set to be reached by creating concepts for working in teams as well as by setting standards for interfaces and platforms, especially industrial standards like OPC UA. The work of our research group is furthermore accompanied by a parallel user evaluation.