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Factory of autonomous Products

The film about this demonstrator is here available.
The fourth demonstrator of the CRC 637 has been developed during the second funding period. It shows a production logistics scenario generated by the working group “Demonstrator Platform”. As the demonstrator displays a scenario in which the products route themselves it has been named “Factory of autonomous Products”. The autonomous products can organize themselves and react independently to unpredictable disturbances such as a machine suddenly breaks down.

Demonstration Scenario

As demonstration scenario we have chosen an assembly process of a car rear light. For completing a rear light four process steps have to be carried out and three product types differing in color are available. The diverse assembly parts are illustrated in a so called “variant tree” (in Figure 1). By using the variant tree and considering the model specific components a product type corridor can be derived. This product type corridor describes the options a product has after each production step. For example, after fixing the seal all product types are available, but after assembling clear bulbs the rear light can only receive a colored diffuser. The assembly of the clear bulb narrows the product type corridor down to one option.
This scenario includes the flexibility to change the sequence of the assembly steps. In this case bulbs and seals have to be assembled before the diffuser. However, it is no matter if first bulbs are fitted before the seal, or vice versa. The assembly step “electronics” is also flexible, it could be the first or the last step or even a step somewhere in the middle of the process. Thereby, a number of sequences are possible. To take another aspect of flexibility into consideration, two workstations for bulbs have set up. Therefore, the products have the opportunity to choose between these alternative workstations. For each of the remaining assembly steps there is one workstation (see Figure 2).
The current demonstration scenario starts with ten customer orders for rear lights with a black diffuser. During processing five of these orders will be canceled and five rear lights with clear diffuser and five with colored diffuser will be ordered. Thus, some products change their target variant to prevent an overproduction. In addition, a workstation breaks down. The products react independently on this event and try to avoid this workstation. Either they change the sequence of the process steps and come back later when the workstation is fixed or they take an alternative workstation. In this way the products reduce their processing time.
Presentation of the "Factory of autonomous Products" 2010

Elements of the demonstrator

The demonstrator combines numerous achievements of several subprojects of the CRC 637. The autonomous control methods have been developed by the subprojects A5 “Dynamics of Autonomous Systems“ and A7 “Autonomous Product Construction Cycle“. Additionally, a decision making method of the subproject B1 “Autonomously Controlled Routing in Transport Networks“ is implemented. The subproject B4 “Knowledge Management“ provides the multi agent platform, which is in use. Furthermore, the subproject C2 “Data Integration“ has implemented an ontology-based mediator, that connects the software agents to the hardware of the demonstrator.
The essential hardware elements are a RFID technology as well as a material flow system depicted in Figure 2 & 3. The subproject C1 “Integration of RFID in Die Casting“ integrates RFID transponders into reflectors of car rear lights. The applied RFID technology enables and ensures the identification and the localization of the reflectors within the demonstrator. Moreover, each reflector can be linked to its own software agent. The software agent makes the decisions for its reflector. An especially visualization software has been developed to illustrate this decisions.


The “Factory of autonomous Products” shows how products route themselves through an assembly scenario. The implemented autonomous control methods enable the products to change their target variant as well as the sequence of the assembling steps during processing. Thus, the products can autonomously react fast and flexible to dynamic environmental influences. Hence, the autonomous products achieve an increased robustness of the total logistics system.
Presentation of the "Factory of autonomous Products" 2012