Edge computing and cloud technologies in smart manufacturing networks

© Fraunhofer IPT

At the heart of the ICNAP, the “Smart Manufacturing Network” provides an environment in which machines, production systems, databases and simulation systems can communicate with each other and share their data and services in a jointly used cloud. In addition to the commonly used, commercially distributed cloud architectures, partners can also access the “Virtual Fort Knox”, which has been developed by Fraunhofer – its servers are located at the Fraunhofer IPT in Aachen – as an independent and safe cloud system for manufacturing applications. Human users use mobile devices to access the process and can interact with all subsystems, control these systems or request specific data.

Such decentralized and modular systems allow engineers to plan, implement, monitor and configure individual manufacturing processes as well as entire process chains quickly and cost-effectively. Efficient networks allow the provisionof flexible and easily adjustable systems for all stages of the customized production cycle, from the drawing board to the recycling facility.

With their comprehensive technological knowledge and understanding of individual processes as well as integrated process chains in the pilot lines, the three Fraunhofer Institutes can deliver nearly complete virtual representations of each process and processing status anywhere along the production chain. The Smart Manufacturing Network stores a digital twin for every individual component, making these twins available for all systems.

The ICNAP ultimately aims to use suitable data architectures, Big Data tools and cloud services to convert this detailed and integrated representation of the process into concrete technological applications.