Information and communication technology (ICT) has changed manufacturing companies in recent years and will continue to play a growing role in the future, as can be witnessed by ongoing research projects in the area of Industry 4.0. The junior research group "ICT Platform for Manufacturing" at the Graduate School of Excellence advanced Manufacturing Engineering (GSaME) is responding to this trend by developing and evaluating a tailored ICT platform. In addition to its head, the junior research group consists of doctoral researchers of the GSaME who have a direct link to the research topic.
An adaptive ICT platform should not only be focused on manufacturing, but also needs to integrate heterogeneous and distributed information systems from the entire company. In addition, the platform must provide its users with value-adding functionality that for instance enables the integration of mobile devices. As a further example, generic analysis tools for structured and unstructured data have to be provided.
As a major contribution, the junior research group has developed the Stuttgart IT Architecture for Manufacturing (SITAM) that provides an adaptive and scalable ICT platform for manufacturing. SITAM offers an integration environment for heterogeneous information systems and their data across the entire company as well as throughout the whole product lifecycle. Building on this, SITAM enables holistic means to analyze all data. Furthermore, it helps to involve employees more closely in the manufacturing process via mobile devices and mobile information provision. The SITAM architecture as well as its functionalities and initial evaluation results are presented and discussed in the following publication:
Kassner, L.; Gröger, C.; Königsberger, J.; Hoos, E.; Kiefer, C.; Weber, C.; Silcher, S.; Mitschang, B.: The Stuttgart IT Architecture for Manufacturing. In: Enterprise Information Systems, Springer International Publishing, 2017.
Current research activities primarily aim at enhancing the data analysis capabilities offered by SITAM. The junior research group implements various analytical methods and examines their potential to better understand and optimize all artifacts being relevant to the product life cycle, such as products, entire factories, or individual machines. Thereby, different analysis methods have to be considered and evaluated, depending on the phase of the product life cycle, on the concrete data, and on the objective of the analysis. In the product development phase, heterogeneous simulation data may be analyzed by means of reports or more complex data mining methods in order to derive recommendations for improving the product design. In the production phase, an analysis of sensor data from test benches can improve fault diagnosis for defective products. A root cause analysis of quality problems that occur during the phase product usage may be of interest to the customer service department, e.g., to initiate appropriate and timely repair measures or product recalls. In each case, relevant research questions include amongst others: Which analysis methods and algorithms are appropriate for which scenarios? And how should these methods be configured and combined in complex analysis processes?
In accordance with the dual principle of the GSaME, the junior research group links the development of innovative scientific results with application-oriented problems. This is evident, among other things, from the fact that four of the seven doctoral projects of the junior research group are carried out in cooperation with an industry partner. In addition, two other doctoral students successfully applied for the Software Campus Initiative, which is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). The aim of this initiative is to support young academics in their research and at the same time to qualify them as junior executives. These two doctoral students also receive additional funds to implement their research results directly at an industry partner and thus to evaluate them in a practical way.