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sts.components.contact.mr.placeholder Sebastian Webel
Mr. Sebastian Webel

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Pictures of the Future
The Magazine for Research and Innovation
 

The Future of Manufacturing – Inside Siemens’ Labs

Calling all Manufacturing Cells

Tomorrow’s production systems could be based on a Click2Make paradigm. Instead of programming machines step by step, a software engineer (background) simply describes the skills a robot and a human coworker require to jointly build a specified object – in this case a stool. Production plans could be derived from a skills description with a single click.

The sharing economy could soon be coming to factory ordering processes. Siemens researchers have developed a technology that allows suppliers’ systems to automatically derive production plans for an order and use them to make offers to a customer.

Just as the sharing economy has successfully created new markets for accommodations, taxi services and logistics, technology is set to do the same sort of thing for companies that need to find the best place to manufacture a product to their exact specifications and scheduling requirements. With this in mind, researchers Simon Mayer, Dominic Plangger, and Florian Michahelles of Siemens Corporate Technology in Berkeley, Califorinia, and Simon Rothfuss of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Karlsruhe, Germany have developed a technology that triggers an automated bidding process by facilities that have the right machines to fill an order on time. The technology allows suppliers’ systems to “automatically derive production plans and use them to make offers to the customer in real time,” say the researchers.

"This development opens the door to allowing individual manufacturing cells to offer their capabilities as a service."
A software engineer models the skills and capabilities of the humans and machines that contribute to producing a specified object.

Known as “Click2Make,” the new technology supports production-as-a-service, which is becoming an increasingly important competitive factor as consumers demand ever higher levels of personalization. At the heart of the technology are embedded semantic descriptions of the available resources (machine and human) of each responding production cell. “Using these descriptions and given the specifications of the product to be manufactured,” explain the researchers, “our system is able to derive a collaborative plan that composes available resources to achieve a specific manufacturing goal.”

The researchers see mass customization as a potentially revolutionary development. “Instead of today’s high-volume production lines,” they say, “this development opens the door to allowing individual manufacturing cells to offer their capabilities as a service and compete with other cells in a new paradigm.”

Arthur F. Pease