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The Digital Factory Becomes Reality

Application Possibilities Taking the Example of a Steel Plant
: Sihn, W.; Pirron, J.; Halmosi, H.

Bright, G. ; University of Natal, Durban, Mechatronics and Robotics Research Group; International Society for Productivity Enhancement -ISPE-:
CAD/CAM, Robotics & Factories of the Future. Vol. 1 : Proceedings of the 17th International Conference on CAD/CAM, Robotics & Factories of the Future CARS & FOF 2001, 10th-12th July 2001, Durban, South Africa
Durban, South Africa, 2001
International Conference on CAD/CAM, Robotics & Factories of the Future (CARS&FOF) <17, 2001, Durban, South Africa>
Fraunhofer IPA ()
digital factory; virtual reality; simulation; Systemintegration

The unbroken trends of the last few years have generated great challenges for businesses in the manufacturing sector. The growing flow of information and its inexpensive availability has fostered market globalization. It has become very easy to compare offers from all over the world for products and services. Existing overcapacities have created extensive buyer markets. Today more and more customers request specific product variants in shorter delivery times. However, they are less willing to accept additional costs for development and logistics as part of the product price. Enormous competitive pressure forces enterprises to regularly renew their production technologies. The resulting destabilization of production leads to more frequent and longer machine breakdowns and thus threatens the logistical efficiency of manufacturing businesses.
In summary, enterprises have become subject to a high level of turbulence which consequently affects their various tasks and responsibilities. The factory planning of the future will not be the one time event that it is today. Product development and logistics management must be allowed to master growing turbulence. Another area for improving businesses' competitiveness is in the area of product-related services.
Holistic modeling and simulation play a crucial role in the support of factory planning, development, logistics, and services. Research and industry experts are currently discussing the concept of a so-called Digital Factory. The Digital Factory uses all of the factory's data and information which create models that generate a virtual and immediate image of the state of the factory and its processes. The Digital Factory's goal is to significantly reduce the work load generated in a production system's entire life cycle.
Primary solutions have been developed for the Digital Factory. The graphic depiction and animation of CAD/CNC data has been central to the solution, but approaches toward the integration of enterprise information systems have also been developed. This article reveals the need for new approaches for the Digital Factory, its requirements and benefits, and presents an example of a feasible implementation of the Digital Factory in a steel mill.