A digital materials factory with an AI-based MES
The Dresden Leibniz Institute for Polymer Research (IPF) is building a digitalised materials factory in Dresden. In an ambitious research project called ‘PolyDigMa – Polymers by Digital Material Science’, novel, high-performance polymer materials are being developed.
For this project, the researchers are relying on Symate’s scalable AI platform Detact. This includes all the functions of a modern MES (Manufacturing Execution System), but Detact goes sigificantly further: The AI system additionally offers intelligent, data-based options for the sustainable optimisation of process and quality. These are of great importance, especially in plastics processing, as the properties of the polymer material are only significantly determined by the process conditions. Detact systematically analyses and controls these process conditions, providing researchers with a deep insight into their systems and a detailed understanding of the crucial interactions between individual components and their influence on the processes in the material.
The focus is on the data
An important focus of the IPF project is on the data. But why? With the help of their new materials factory, the researchers want to gain a profound understanding of the relationships between raw materials, process conditions, design and material properties and thus lay the foundation for optimal process design as well as sustainably efficient, economical processes. To achieve this, the team led by Prof. Dr.-Ing. Markus Stommel will collect and systematically analyse extensive data from the entire product creation process, the workpieces and the environment.
AI based workflow optimisation for the polymer production of the future
At the Dresden materials factory, the researchers are supported by the MES features of Detact, because this software works across systems, intelligently, can be customised and provides objective analyses in real time. Since all data is processed and reconciled in the central Detact cloud, the system enables the overarching analysis of the relationships between process variables and material properties. Thus, the researchers are not only developing an optimised workflow for the production of novel, high-performance polymer materials, but also a practical model for the targeted management of processes to generate optimal material properties – or in short: a sustainable approach for the digitalised plastics processing of the future.
Detact leads to transparent interactions
Markus Stommel, head of the Institute of Polymer Materials at the Leibniz Institute of Polymer Research (IPF), explains: “Materials research is the mainstay of our institute and we have extensive knowledge, especially in the field of polymers. Nevertheless, in the past it was only possible to a limited extent for us to draw conclusions from process parameters to the underlying material or to analyse selected properties as part of an interactive system. With Detact, however, this is now possible and therefore we can conduct research in our new materials factory in a completely different way than before. Detact gives us a much deeper understanding of the entire process chain and interactions, because the individual machines, devices and materials continuously provide data that we can now evaluate across processes and in real time for the first time. With the help of Detact’s artificial intelligence and the networking of the digital systems, we would like to take a look at the interactions along the entire process chain, because we are sure that this is where there is enormous potential for optimisation. With the previous technologies, we were only able to make rudimentary use of this. With the new technical possibilities, however, this is completely different: now we can merge the material data across (disciplines) and from a wide variety of data sources and research the polymer material along its entire life cycle and realise completely new industrial planning and control systems in the sense of the fourth industrial revolution (‘Industry 4.0’).”
A demanding task for research
The scientific objectives of the IPF in the field of polymers and the engineering plastics based on them are particularly demanding and diverse. Because: Plastics change during product development and are in an imbalance during this time. In order to characterise the processes for materials research in a fully digital manner, researchers urgently need digital information from such non-equilibrium systems and, above all, data on the existing boundary conditions (e.g. ambient temperatures, air conditioning, etc.). Only the fusion of these data provides a previously unattainable quality of material information for material research and thus a complete picture of the material.
Read more at Leibniz IPF
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