Bosch-Led Project On Software-Defined Manufacturing Takes Shape

Mobility Outlook Bureau
24 Nov 2021
10:08 AM
2 Min Read

The project, called SDM4FZI, aims to make automation technology, machinery, and systems more flexible in order to boost efficiency in the production of supplier components and vehicles.

Software in manufacturing.

Led by Bosch, the University of Stuttgart, and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology and funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, a new research project worth € 35 mn has taken shape to give manufacturing in the automotive industry a facelift.

Over the next three years, the SDM4FZI research project (Software-Defined Manufacturing for the Vehicle and Supplier Industry), with 30 participating companies will define the foundations for software-defined manufacturing.

The project’s goal is to design software that can flexibly plan, manage, and modify everything from individual components to entire factories. Once built, the underlying software is expected to pave the way for more variants and faster model and product changes in the automotive industry, in addition to improving competitiveness.

Many machines in the industry are designed and built specifically for one single new product. And it often takes months, and sometimes years, for the technical elements of the manufacturing chain for a new model to be put in place, from supplier to final assembly. Moreover, the software is usually inextricably coupled to particular machinery and products and is not transferable to other processes. 

Research project for software defined manufacturing. 

All of these, together with the considerable economic cost involved, stymies rapid market launches, said a release issued by Bosch. 

SDM4FZI aims to address this and create a uniform framework for factories that will enable new products to be manufactured in existing operating environments without major retooling times. 

Flexible Manufacturing

As part of the project, prototypes for machinery and production lines are being developed, which are largely defined by software. Such prototypes are based on digital twins, which make it possible to plan, build, and test production systems virtually, thus conserving resources and saving on energy and costs. 

Digital twins also makes the individual manufacturing stages more versatile during production, so they can be adapted more quickly to new market conditions. Thanks to the digital twins, companies can prepare and implement improvements, and also use AI to analyse them, without having to interrupt the production process. 

Digital Twin. 

The projects aims to make automation technology, machinery, and systems more flexible in order to boost efficiency in the production of supplier components and vehicles.

Further, the project partners aim to create a common understanding of the requirements and to develop interoperable solutions by pooling expertise from automation, mechanical engineering, IT, and the automotive industry.

One Step Closer To Adaptable Manufacturing

Matthias Meier, Project Manager, Bosch said, “By linking various Industry 4.0 approaches, we are getting one step closer to adaptable manufacturing. An ecosystem for software-defined manufacturing allows us to bring the benefits of cloud technology to production. Software makes it possible to use automation technology and IT systems for individual, specific applications without having to build the hardware from scratch.”

Rapid retooling of factories.

Michael Neubauer, Chief Technology Officer for ISW at the University of Stuttgart said the large number of project partners demonstrates how substantial a role software plays in the manufacturing of tomorrow. “We are working on pioneering approaches that will improve German companies’ competitiveness,” he said. 

For example, the project partners are drafting a guide for the selection and use of suitable technologies, as well as standards for building software-defined factories.

Share This Page