if you imagine how the factory of the future will look like, you think relatively fast on processes that are fully automated and without having people somehow participate. In this regard, almost
everyone has heard of the term smart factory,
but how can such a vision of the future actually
be implemented in real life? Which role plays the blockchain and
especially how can companies that may not have the
size of Amazon Apple and so on benefit from this? MaibornWolff has together with the
Mittelstands 4.0 Competence Center in Ilmenau implemented
and tested exactly such a project. Today I will talk about this project with Matthias Eiber.
Hi Matthias you can maybe briefly introduce yourself and tell us
what you are doing in Ilmenau? Hi yes, of course. My name is Mathias Eiber I am a
project engineer the Mittelstands 4.0 Competence Center in Ilmenau. We deal with the digitalization of Production and business processes and
because we are funded by the federal ministry of economics and energy, all our offers are for free for small and medium-sized companies.. Can you start with giving us a very briefly explanation what a smart factory actually is?
Yes a smart factory is actually the vision of a production environment in which the
finished product carries information digitally of its manufacturing, e.g.
For example in the form of a data matrix code or RFID transponder and based on
this information and through a networking of production systems these processes are supposed to be without humanly organized interventions and
thereby being able to to manufacture the product automatically. In principle one strives for an economic production from small batch sizes to
to lot size one. Can you go into a little more detailed on the advantages
that occur for companies, as a result of a smart factory?
Yes, first just a completely automated and therefore in
economical sense, low-cost production of products, even in small
quantities up to lot size one and for medium-sized companies the
concept of a smart factory actually opens up the chance for project-related
mergers of several companies and thus being competitive
also towards large companies because a smart factory does not have to
stop at your own company capacities. Large orders, for example, orders that one alone could not implemented can be processed by several companies as well as companies now have the possibility to also optimize the machine utilization. The cooperation works
also of course without smart factories,
as it is the case most of the time today but the effort to
coordination such joint production and also the
transparency along the supply chain suffer of course and through
automation and digitization of processes exactly these risks and
efforts for coordination and documentation of manufacturing processes can be reduced massively. And how would such an implementation
look like? Or what did we actually do together in Ilmenau? Yes, in addition to digitizing
individual processes with the help of so-called cyber physical systems
it is needed for a smart factory to also uniform interfaces and protocols. In principle there is still a lot of work ahead of us. Next to
such a required network of course also a kind
communication channel over which everyone can participants, humans as well as
machines are technical participants that can exchange about the respective processes and that everyone has the same data access at any time and how such a
data exchange could look like is what we have done here in Ilmenau
exemplary in the form of a multi-stage manufacturing chain
replication and the coordination or documentation so to say the exchange of
manufacturing processes, that takes place via a blockchain solution.
Ah yes there is the key word, maybe you can go into exactly how a blockchain was used? Yes, the blockchain forms part of the concept of the actual transaction platform companies can take the form of a
digital identity (more or less a user account) to become active on this platform and for example offer up free machines capacities. But why the blockchain as a transaction platform? Well you could for example argue with “confidence”,
if you network together now, for example companies that work together on small projects maybe don’t know each other and trust it is necessary to create trust amongst the companies, and this is actually achieved through the blockchain, because the blockchain is
tamper-proof and every action of the order processing is
fully documented. Also data that I entrust to the blockchain
by storing it in a distributed network is protected against loss.
And in this whole concept, what role does digital identities or digital twins play? Yes, the digital identity is here
practically a kind of user account or digital signature and it is thereby
unique and easy to assign and all actions taken with the digital identity are thus verifiable and binding. The
digital twins, on the other hand, can be used for example as a digital representations of
production plants and machines. They have at least metadata
that describe their functional properties or also 3D and
physical models that can then be used for simulation, planning or calculations. So the digital twin is in
principle the cyber part of the cyber physical systems and you can therefore assign rights or duties to a machine with their digital twin.
And in the context that different businesses collaborate,
for example in a large factory, how is it possible to guarantee
data security and the safety of business secrets?
Yes, that’s always a very important question. The security of the data or
data security itself is first in the network guaranteed at all times. The
data is encrypted and at least protected against unauthorized access. Then the data is still at the same time on several maybe this is analogous
to the cloud locally distributed over several servers. If one fails, the data is actually still available.
With blockchain there is now not a single owner of this server
because every network participant serves as a data host. If one of the servers fails or the network participants, for example
no longer want to play then the data for the rest are
still there. So nobody can just pull the plug and this is how it my data protection is guaranteed. With the DSGVO
the system is also compatible for example by just storing links in the blockchain itself individual or large amounts of data can be saved off chain, in one separate networks.
The data creator can use his digital key, for example to delete his data,
but the system can not be levered out with this move,
even the deletion is digital documented in the blockchain.
But regarding data protection itself, if
I manufacture in networks automatically some manufacturing data
needs to be given out, in that case also the blockchain can’t protects you from the possibility that someone is sitting somewhere and reads the data and is trying to reproduce them. But in case of a dispute, the Blockchain can help to solve who the actual creator of the data is because of the documentation in the it is very easy to reconstruct. In contrast to the how
Cooperative value creation is currently being lived this will also add some extra
protection. And on the way to more smart factories, what obstacles do you still see that need to be overcome? So for the smart factory
we definitely need the full digitization of analog
processes from order creation to the construction to manufacture and
logistics and that across manufacturers. With uniform definitions and
interfaces for machines. There lays a lot of work ahead of us, a
small step closer to the smart factory can of course bring us the blockchain here,
there is still a lot of educational work required to show companies
how the blockchain actually works and what advantages and possibilities
it offers. Matthias many thanks for the insights into the project in Ilmenau,
if you want to know more about the other projects of the Mittelstand 4.0 Competence Center just click the link in the description to this video. Otherwise if you want to know
more about digital identities and twins,
we recently uploaded a video on our channel.
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Matthias thanks again for your time and to you all out there, II hope to see you here again next time. My pleasure,
take care!